What to do about a bully in your house

The phrase, “they fight like cats and dogs” certainly holds a lot of truth for some families. We recently had a family come in to see us because, no matter what they did, their cat just kept starting fights with the other four-legged family members. Their poor mom couldn’t get them to live in harmony. During the appointment, the doctor and technician shared with her some simple tips and tricks to keeping the peace between the fur kids.  Although we can’t promise your cat will ever become best friends with your dog, we can help you keep the peace. Here are a few tips for helping cats and dogs live together:

Give everyone equal attention

If your pet-babies don’t get along well, consider some of this week’s blogs tips and tricks for keeping the peace!

Although your cat may hate your dog, they love you. So be sure to acknowledge their presence, especially if they initiate the attention. For many pets, jealousy can rear it’s ugly head, and your love and attention may just be the trigger.

Feed separately

An often tumultuous time for pet-siblings is meals. Your cat may want to take their time, while your dog wants to wolf down their food, and then help your cat finish theirs. An easy way to avoid a fight is to separate pets when feeding. Pets can either be fed in different rooms, at different heights (table/counter and floor), or at different times.

Just like humans, a good workout can solve just about anything

Dogs need a nice walk or romp at the park to lower their energy level and your cat needs to exercise their prey drive.  It is important to get your feline family members moving. A laser pointer, electronic mouse and remote, or other toys that attract their attention and get them moving, are all good options. Reducing their energy level and prey drive will help reduce their moodiness and need to bully their furry family members.

When home alone, separation is a must

Coming home to flying fur balls and scratches is never a good sign. To help your pets maintain a civil living environment in your absence, keep them apart from each other. The time apart will allow them to rest and recuperate while they await your return.

Offer your pets a hideaway

For many pets, space is at a premium. Offer both cats and dogs a chance to get away from each other by giving them places to relax. For a cat, an empty shelf, or cabinet top, or an empty box out of the dog’s reach can be the oasis they need. We all know a good bed, a snack, and your undying love is everything a dog really wants in life, so why not treat them to a special space away from their bullying sibling.

There is no shame in being the parent of a leash kid…or pet

You secretly laugh at them in public, but the truth is a good harness can work wonders.  A bullying pet can successfully live in peace if you are in control of the situation and work to teach them good behavior. Placing a harness or leash on your cat or dog for controlled interactions gives you the opportunity to physically re-direct them without ending up the accidental victim of a flying paw or snapping mouth. This also helps prevent giving your pet a reward of physical touch for bad behavior, as you can guide them with just the leash.


If separation, calming the environment, and controlling their interactions doesn’t seem to stop your cats and dogs from going at each other, call your veterinarian. For some pets, the fight or flight question will always seem to be answered with fight. These pets may be not feeling well, have higher anxiety levels, or other issues that a doctor can help identify and solve.

Six Big Wives with Tails…Or Was it Wives’ Tales?…

Garlic cures or prevents heartworms, fleas, and parasites

Although your family and friends may agree that the large amounts of garlic you eat make them want to run for the hills, this wives’ tale holds no truth. Garlic will not prevent heartworms, fleas, parasites or anything else related to your pet. Garlic is a natural toxin to your pet and will do more damage than good to their health. If you think your pet may have a parasite, call your veterinarian and schedule an appointment. Most parasites can be easily removed from your pet, and you will have the added bonus of your pet not being garlic-scented!

Who would dare say a black cat is bad luck?! Talk about a wives’ tale


All Pit Bulls are aggressive

This is by far one of the sadder wives’ tales we often hear about pets. Historically every decade or so a different breed becomes the new “worst dog to bring home.”  Right now that unfortunate and untrue title belongs to pit bulls. Bad press and a lack of education regarding safe training, breeding, and handling are often the cause of this common tale. Many dog breeds, especially those that have had a bad rap, are extremely intelligent and require pet-parents who are dedicated to teaching them good behavior and giving them lots of love. If you are looking for more information about pit bulls’ behavior, think you may want to adopt, or have further questions about the breed, contact one of the local pit bull rescue groups or the San Diego Humane Society.

In ancient times it was thought if you were bitten by a dog with rabies, you had to eat the dog to avoid getting rabies yourself.

You are likely thinking what we were thinking when we first read this: Thank you modern medicine! This wives’ tale, although never really true, has died out over the years as education surrounding rabies increased. The best way to prevent rabies is to have your pet vaccinated. If you live in California, you may already know that starting January 1, 2014, the age limit to receive the mandatory rabies vaccine for pets was lowered to from 4 months to 3 months. This is in line with many other states that have a lower age limit for the rabies vaccine. In addition, exercising caution around animals, especially those showing signs of aggression, will lower the likelihood of being bitten, and in turn lower the chance of potential rabies transmission.

Never look a dog in the eye

Although they certainly won’t grow a second head, looking a dog in the eyes can be an easy inter-species miscommunication. Many dominant dogs can use a simple glance to put a misbehaving dog in their place. So it’s not surprising that a small human accidentally staring down a dog, can be an unintended and unsafe miscommunication between the two.  Generally when teaching kids to be safe around dogs, it is a good idea to follow this precautionary wives’ tale and teach them not to look a dog in the eye.

You don’t need to brush your pet’s teeth since they don’t feel pain

We cannot even begin to explain all of the things wrong with this wives tale! There is zero truth to this sad and unfortunate tale. Your pet can certainly feel pain, but like any creature that doesn’t speak human language they learn to live with the pain since they can’t tell you something hurts. When it comes to oral or dental pain, many pets will begin to only chew with one side of their mouth or try to not chew their food at all, to avoid agitating a painful spot or tooth in their mouth. To help keep your pets from living with unwanted pain, brush their teeth regularly; even older pets with their grumpy ways can get a good brushing.  It is also a very good idea to have their veterinarian check at least twice a year for broken teeth, receding gums, or issues with the roots of your pet’s teeth.

Walking by a black and white dog on your way to work means good luck for the day!

Although we couldn’t find any research to support or deny this wives tale, we do like to believe it’s 100% true. Who knows, maybe our many black and white patients, and the luck they bring, are why we love to be at PAH so much!

Fecal Matters of the Heart

Ok, we’ll be honest, “love” may be a little strong, but talking about your pet’s fecal matter is something we do like to do. This of course is not because we love to make you uncomfortable, but instead to make sure your pet’s examination is comprehensive.

Why do we care so much about your pet’s poop?

Who says your pet’s fecal matter isn’t important? Your pet’s poop can help their veterinarian give an accurate and complete look at your pet’s health.

  • We are looking for hookworms, whipworms, roundworms or even protozoan parasites, such as giardia or coccidia.
  • To protect your pet and YOU! The Centers for Disease Controls reports that several thousand people are checked for roundworm and hookworm infestation every year.  The most common source of these worms is our pets!
  • Most puppies and kittens are born with intestinal parasites
  • While adult animals can pick up these nasty worms from the yard, the dog park, potting soil or from our hands and feet if we have been working in the yard or garden!
  • These parasites can wreak havoc on your pet’s intestines. If left untreated, the damage can be irreversible.


Many hospitals, ours included, recommend intestinal parasite testing (aka fecal tests) every six months. This will help detect eggs or adult parasites, and keep your pet and your family safe.


It’s not just us: The CDC, the Companion Animal Parasite Council and the American Animal Hospital Association all recommend regular fecal exams for our pets. Everyone likes to talk about poop!


For a slightly less gross, but equally fascinating fact about your pet’s bathroom habits, check out this fascinating article about how dog’s align themselves to a north-south axis to use the facilities!




Source: all statistics and facts are thanks to www.VNN.com; a resource and guide for veterinary news!