SKUNKED! Solving Skunk Stink

Blue Merle Australian Shepherd puppy, 10 weeks old, looking at Striped Skunk, Mephitis Mephitis, 5 years old, sitting in front of white background

It’s not just clueless puppies that get skunked! Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

It happened again—Magical-Dawg found a skunk, at about 6:30 a.m. on Monday. A day later, and the smell lingers in the house. You’d think dogs would learn after one skunk encounter, but time after time he sticks his nose in rude places and gets rewarded with skunky consequences. One summer, he was skunked 3 times in as many weeks, yikes!

How to Solve Skunk Stink

I suspect that the heavy rains have evicted many little black and white furry families from their heir homes. This one Magic found pretty close to the house, rather than the distant field that’s on pretty low (currently soggy) ground. Usually hunting dogs get nailed most often since they’re exposed to wildlife as they hunt. But hungry skunks won’t hesitate to munch pet food left out and can even sneak into your house (yikes!) through a pet door.

My husband has morning dog duty, so he saw it happen—and then decided to bring Magic IN THE HOUSE to tell me about it. Urk! Nothing like eau de wet dog + skunk to start off your morning right. Even Karma-Kat objected, his tiny little nose wiggling and his kitty face wearing an appalled expression.

Once hit, Magic typically rolls around to get rid of the smell. A direct hit in the eyes can cause temporary blindness but he’s been lucky so far. Of course, with all the rain we’ve had, the rolling added wet mud-puppy to the equation.

Why Dogs Get Skunked—Again & Again

Dogs aren’t dumb. Well, most are not…so you’d think they’d learn from one (or two, or five!) encounters. Yet the dogs continue to push the sniff-envelope and continue to get nailed. It’s not entirely their fault, even though skunks give fair warning with stomped feet, turning around and holding the tail high. But this elevated tail poised to launch its smelly cargo sends mixed signals to pets.

A straight-up tail is a greeting behavior for cats, and for dogs a high-held wagging tail begs for a greeting sniff. The skunk has shown the equivalent of a dog offering to shake hands, and gets his feelings hurt when he misunderstands the skunk’s invitation. It’s simple mis-communication.

Why Skunks Stink

Skunks have musk glands on each side of the anus. These glands are equipped with retractable ducts. They can take aim and spray the stink a distance of 10 to 15 feet, so even standoffish pets are liable to get nailed.

Skunk spray contains thiols, an organic compound composed of a sulfur atom attached to a hydrogen atom attached to a carbon atom. The same types of compounds create stinky breath or flatulence. Thiols have a lingering rotten egg odor, and the skunk’s oily secretion makes it difficult to get rid of. Skunk spray is so pungent, a concentration of one in 10 parts per billion can make humans gag. Just think how obnoxious or downright painful the smell is to your pet’s nose.

Eliminating Skunk Odor

A bath alone generally won’t do the job. The oily secretions can be difficult to wash away, and the thiols are impossible to perfume or wash off. Usually a commercial de-skunking solution will be needed, one that incorporates odor neutralizers specially designed to eliminate the pungent aroma. I have on hand some Z Air, a product I’ve loved using around the litter box. Who knew it’d be so effective for skunk smell, too!

Perform clean up outside, too, or you’ll need to deodorize your entire house after scrubbing the pet. Wear comfortable, disposable old clothes and gloves because your dog will transfer odor to you during the bathing process. Trust me on this!

Oh, and do NOT let the dog back into the house until after the bath. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with the skunk smell in the air and potentially your carpet and furniture when the dog tries to rub off the odor. Currently I’ve got a Fresh Wave candle burning, and a CritterZone odor neutralizer running in addition to spritzing odor neutralizers around the kitchen.

What if you don’t have handy-dandy products available that are designed to keep skunk smell at bay? Here are a few options.

3 Home Remedies for Skunk Stink

Tomato Juice. A tried and true home remedy is a tomato juice soak. Wash your puppy first with pet shampoo and towel him dry. Then douse him with the juice and let it soak for ten or fifteen minutes. Rinse him off and suds again with the regular shampoo. Alternate the tomato juice soak with the shampoo bath until he’s less pungent. Be warned, though, that white and light colored pets may turn temporarily pink from this treatment.

Massengill Douche. Professional groomers often recommend Massengill brand douche to get rid of skunk odor. Mix two ounces of Massengill to a gallon of water for small dogs—double the recipe for bigger pups—and pour over the washed pet. Let the solution soak for at least fifteen minutes. Then rinse with plain water, and bathe with normal shampoo once more.

Chemistry Cure. You can also use chemistry to neutralize the thiols. I like this option so much, I included it in my book The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats. Here’s what to do:

  1. Mix one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide with ¼ cup of baking soda, and one teaspoon of pet shampoo (any kind will work).
  2. Apply to the pet’s DRY fur.
  3. Allow the mix to bubble for three or four minutes.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 until odor is gone.

This recipe, created by chemist Paul Krebaum, works better than anything on the market. You can’t buy it, though, because the formula can’t be bottled. It explodes if left in a closed container. So if your pet is skunked, mix only one application at a time. Otherwise you’ll be cleaning up more than just the pet.

What about you? Has your dog ever been skunked? More than once? How did you solve the stink? I suspect Magic likes the aftermath of getting to play hose tag with the water!

 

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Crash Test Dummies, Canine Cars & Safe Travel

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I’m nominated for a BLOGPAWS NOSE TO NOSE AWARD for best written blog, SQUEEE!

Today it’s Memorial Day and however you commemorate this day, please be careful. Many will be on the road and perhaps take their dog for a car ride as well. This week I’m traveling to Nashville to the BLOGPAWS conference, and while my Magical-Dawg and the two cats would love to go…well, maybe Seren would object!…none will be making the plane trip or car ride with me.

That said, over 100 dogs will make the trip (plus about a dozen cats and more critters of various species). Magic is SO jealous! But he does get to travel locally and let’s me drive his “Magic-Mobile.”

Dog car safety is my #1 concern with any pet in the car. Pets loose in cars can interfere with the driver, cause distractions and potentially cause accidents. During an accident, they may turn into furry projectiles that injure other human passengers as well as themselves, becoming seriously injured, paralyzed, lost, or killed.

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Dogs love to ride! Image courtesy of Depositphotos.com

Currently, the United States has no standards or any tests at all for pet travel products, yet many manufacturers advertise claims of successful testing. Distraction protection is very different from crash protection, and some dog products companies take this responsibility very seriously.

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Magic is a car-riding maniac. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

CRASH TESTS & PET SAFETY

A few years ago I met Linsey Wolko, founder and CEO of the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) at the BlogPaws event, and later interviewed her after Subaru partnered with them in 2013 to study the effectiveness of pet safety harnesses. There were mixed results among some of the most popular pet products on the market touted to provide pet car safety. NOTE: No living dogs were used in these tests, all were conducted with “doggy test dummies.”

The study chose eleven commonly available dog harness products to test that came in Small, Medium and Large sizes and advertised the product having been tested for crash protection. Stuffed dogs served as the test dummies in the three size ranges, which a small 25-pound terrier conformation, a medium 45-pound Border Collie and a large 75-pound Golden Retriever, chosen to best mirror the conformation and weight of living dogs.

MGA Research Corporation, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contracted test facility in Virginia, performed independent, third party testing of the harness products. A minimum standard of performance was first tested, and the seven dog harnesses that passed went on to the “crash” phase of the test with the stuff dog dummies.

The tests were created to result in a worst-case potential for injury. For instance, positioning the test dog dummy in a sit position increased the rotation/force in the crash. “The primary goal was to see if we can keep the dog on the seat,” says Wolko.

The “crash test” takes into account the potential “launch” of the dog from his perch on the car seat, rotation force, as well as how well (or not) the harness prevents doggy injury. Some tests not only resulted in catastrophic failure of fasteners and caused severe harness deformation/stitching failure, but also launched the test-dummy dog, stripped off the harness, or hung/strangled the test dummy. Shedding of the harness/leash also leaves the dog open to escape/becoming lost immediately after the accident.

Only ONE of the eleven company’s products passed the test with a five-paws-up ranking. See the results of the tests here. The Sleepypod ClickIt Utility Harness received Top Performer of those products tested. It controlled both launch and rotation of the test dummy dog in all three Small, Medium and Large product sizes.

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Image courtesy of Kurgo

I am not being compensated for writing this post. Kurgo provided me with a free harness in exchange for an honest review. Kurgo is not responsible for the content of this article.

WHAT ABOUT BIG DOGS? 

I wanted to find a safety harness for Magic–but the Sleepypod product didn’t come in a large enough size. The one that seemed the best fit, Kurgo harness, initially failed this 2013 test, but the company was one of several that decided to improve the design and enhance quality control.

So I was DELIGHTED recently to be offered a free Kurgo harness to review with Magic, especially since more recent tests show effective safety with its use. The materials and workmanship are impressive, and the company really takes safety seriously. Unlike some other products, this isn’t simply a converted walking harness. Kurgo uses the same type of engineering design used by rock climbers who rely on buckles and tethers to keep them safe.

That said, because it has a ring on the front chest plate, the Kurgo Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Harness works like a no-pull harness and turns your pup around if he does try to tug you along. (Yes, Magic, I’m talking about YOU!). Fit is important, of course, and for the Kurgo, you simply measure the neck and chest girth to determine the fit.

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Image courtesy of Kurgo.

I liked having five places to adjust fit on Magic. However, the neck band at its smallest girth still ran loose on my GSD, but the company offers instructions how to make a DIY adjustment that worked like a charm. It’s also machine washable–kewl! Price ranges according to size, starting at $22 for the little guys and going up to $32 for the largest harness.

The chest pad reduces stress on the trachea and sternum and in the case of dangerous crashes, this spreads the force across the dog’s chest to reduce injury due to localized impact. The harness comes with a carabiner to attach the harness to you car seatbelt system. There’s also a 10-inch dog seat belt tether to allow more range of movement.

CRASH TESTS

The Kurgo Enhanced Strength Tru-Fit Smart Harness and its steel Nesting Buckles has been tested in both tensile strength, static line test, and finally in a crash test using a sled test (see video, below).

Dog Harness Crash test videos show a 50-lb dog (dummy) traveling at 30 miles per hour. The test was conducted and recorded at the University of Michigan, an accredited National Highway and Transportation Administration lab, using Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213 for child restraint systems.

Magic weighs nearly 90 pounds so I wouldn’t expect the test dog at this weight to be the same result. And nope, I hope that I will NEVER find out how good this harness is by having Magic in a crash with me. However, it’s the best option I’ve found for him when we’re on the road.

For pet owners of smaller cats and dogs, the absolutely best safety tip I can offer is to secure your small pet inside a carrier and seat belt the carrier into the back seat. Wolko recommends placing the carrier on the floor in the back seat, which works well for the smallest carriers.

As with harnesses, there are no required tests or standards that define “safe pet carriers.” Plastic can shatter, metal can buckle, so conduct due diligence in choosing your carrier. Remember that air bags that go off have enough power to crush and severely injure or kill a small pet.

For big dogs like my Magical-Dawg that won’t fit in a carrier, I have him secured behind a dog gate so he doesn’t try to drive. Now I can also secure him with his Kurgo harness. That keeps him out of my hair and from trying to push the gas pedal, too.

Of course, with hot weather soon to arrive here in North Texas, Magic won’t be car riding as much as he’d like. But now we’re prepared. What about you? Do your fur-kids enjoy car rides? How do you keep them safe? DO tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

SHOW AND TELL Cover Reveal!

Show_Tell(1)I am so excited to unveil this lovely, brooding and ominous cover to my next suspense/thriller SHOW AND TELL, the third book in the September Day series. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Because I’m superstitious, it feels a bit as though I’m responsible for the recent violent North Texas weather–sort of like those Night Gallery TV episodes where anything written on the enchanted typewriter comes true (yikes!). Now I’m scaring myself…in a good way. Do you do that, too? C’mon, you can tell me, I can keep a secret. :)

In the previous books, animal behaviorist and trainer September along with her PTSD support/service dog Shadow have dealt with a freak blizzard in LOST AND FOUND, and then barely managed to escape a barn fire in HIDE AND SEEK. Now they have new challenges. This third book, SHOW AND TELL, again takes place over 24 hours in Heartland, Texas, this time with flash floods, hail and tornadoes, a rash of missing pets, and a dog fight ring that could spell the end for both September and Shadow.

Some of your fave characters return in this installment, including September’s trained Maine Coon cat Macy, and of course the hunky Detective Jeff Combs. Will September finally heal enough to risk her heart once again? If so, how will Shadow react? There are some newcomers (furry and human) that I hope you’ll also fall in love with. For those who have read the first two books, you’ll be pleased that SHOW AND TELL brings the story full circle, with some kid heroes this time. (Okay, that’s enough of a hint!).

Stay tuned in the near future for the launch of this round of NAME THAT DOG and NAME THAT CAT contest. Yep, you’ll get the chance to suggest names for some of the furry characters–maybe it will even be your dog or cat that appears in the book! Last time, the hotly contested vote kept us wondering … I’ll announce launch of the contest here on the blog and Facebook probably sometime in the next week or so, but my Sweet Peeps Pet Peeves Newsletter subscribers will get the announcement first. (They got the scoop on the cover reveal 2 days ago…just sayin…).

So don’t wait, go ahead and subscribe now to Pet Peeves. I’ve got some pretty nifty fun perks in mind for the launch of SHOW AND TELL and you don’t want to miss out!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

RT Booklovers Virgin Loves The Experience!

CaroleAmyRTThis month has been overwhelming with travel and events. April 25 at the Earth Day celebration I presented a fun Pet Peeves talk, and the following weekend attended the OWFI conference weekend where I co-presented three wonderful seminar presentations. May 9th was the Amazing Pet Expo in Dallas, where I paw-tographed books and served as the Emcee announcer at the event stage. Whew!

This Saturday join me for another Book Signing May 23rd at Dallas The Cat Connection! 14233 Inwood Rd. Dallas, TX, 75244, 866.386.6369 from 10:00am – 1:30pm. Samples of both Kitty Kaviar™ and a month’s supply Perfect Litter™ will be provided for all attendees, as well as gift certificates for purchases made in-store or on The Cat Connection website. Bring all your pet peeves questions for some advice and info.

But this past week had me nervous and excited all at once, with my first attendance at the RT (Romantic Times) Booklover’s Convention. I’d never gone before because I don’t write romance and (mistakenly) assumed the event was genre-specific. HOLY BOOKS, BATMAN! The event not only featured fantastic romance writers of every stripe, but authors and readers of every other genre also attended. Folks actually were interested in my September Day suspense/thriller series and intrigued by the dog viewpoint character.

RoomKeysModels-lorezAuthors, bloggers, librarians, booksellers, aspiring authors, agents, editors, publishers, COVER MODELS–all attended. And the most important, fun and vital attendees of course were READERS. Avid readers. Readers who consume 3, 6, 10 books a week, form fan clubs to support favorite authors, and just generally are engaging, fun people. Love love loved this experience.

Kudos to the organizers, the volunteers and all the sponsors. Having organized (much smaller!) conventions, I can only imagine what went into this incredibly well run event. Next year it’s in Vegas…already penciled onto my calendar. So…time for your comments, what’s YOUR fav author/reader/writer event? Do tell!

At other “author signing” events it has not been unusual for me to have folks stop by and chat about their pets ask advice, but then say they “don’t read” and so pass on the books. Maybe they’re being polite–or maybe they really don’t read. That’s fine. But at the RT Convention, I found my people–everyone there loves books, reads books, and can’t wait to discover their next favorite book and author. BLISS! Scroll down to see a brief video of the author book signing of 500+ authors…that’s not a typo, there were at least 500 of us!

Did I mention the free books? Or the fantastic seminars (10+ each hour from whic to choose)? Or the “fan-girl” moments” at this event (thank goodness “stalking” is okay at these events). One of my regrets is I didn’t get a photo with (squeee!) Brenda Novak or get her to sign a book. We sat on the same THRILLER panel and we talked dogs–she has a Chow. I was in incredible company on the panel, with John Gilstrap, Andrew Peterson, Reavis Wortham (he lives in Frisco, near me!), and Anderson Harp. I was honored to be asked to sit on the panel, and gratified the audience seemed to enjoy our talk.

So here are a few pictures of the events I managed to attend. Oh, and next year, RT is in Vegas, baby! I am so there!

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Structuring to Sell! Insider secrets for creating a story guaranteed to breakout big! Panelist Cat Clyne (Sourcebooks), Louise Fury (The Bent Agency), Nicole Resciniti (The Seymour Literary Agency), Whitney Ross (Tor Editor), Deb Werksman (Sourcebooks)

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My view from the 17th floor down to the lobby of the Hyatt Regency (Dallas).

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The Writing Voice–audience members read pages for critiques, a great sesson! Kevan Lyon (Marsal Lyon Literary Agency), Sarah Frantz Lyons (Riptide Publishing), Ruth Sternglantz (Bold Strokes Books), Abby Zidle (Gallery/Pocket).

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Mark Coker of Smashwords offered an entire “Indie” track, great stuff as always.

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Mark warns about the SNAKES out there eager to take advantage of unwary authors.

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Self Publishing Panel

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Self pub-panel, Sylvia Day and Karin Tabke

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10 Concrete Ways to Make Release Day a Success: Claudia Gray, Cynthia Hand, Sophie Jordan, Jodi Meadows, Victoria Scott

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Standing room only in many sessions!

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Romantic Fantasy: Jenna Black, Patricia Burroughs, Carole Nelson Douglas, Diana Pharaoh Francis

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AMAZON! Neal Thompson (manager of author and Publishing Relations),

Smashwords

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Urban Fantasy, What’s Next? Patricia Briggs, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Richelle Mead, Diana Rowland, Samantha Sommersby, Jeanne C. Stein, Chloe Neil, Nicole Peeler

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AVON PRESENTS….A Night in Paris, mass book signing/give aways from Avon authors with treats and champagne.

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Comfy shoes win out!

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Carole rockin’ the spots & stripes!

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Me with Kathryn Falk, the founder of RT Book Reviews (Fan Girl Moment!). Told her I might mug her for that jacket…

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View in front of my autograph table…more behind me in the other direction, whew!

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Some fans stopped by the table…but I think it was the K-9 Fat Free Treats bringing in the four-legged fellow!

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Yes, I actually sold a couple of books! Here with my new friend Nancy…

 

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Matchmaking Tips for Cats & Dogs with #FoodShelterLove

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

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Image Courtesy of Hill’s Pet Products

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love® Program, but Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

This past weekend I was the Emcee at a pet expo in Dallas and was thrilled to offer advice to hundreds of pet lovers. There were dozens pet dogs in attendance as well as animal shelter adoption events featuring kittens, cats and dogs, with lots of dog rescue groups. I was pleasantly surprised that so many “dog” folks asked cat questions, because the truth is, LOTS of dog folks love cats, too, but aren’t sure how to make the combination work.

Image Courtesy of Hill's Pet Products

Image Courtesy of Hill’s Pet Products

The Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® program has provided over $240 million worth of food to nearly 1,000 shelters, 365 days a year helping over 8 million pets find a new home…and counting. The program is designed to encourage loving individuals to support their local shelters by caring for and spending time with or even fostering local shelter pets. Mom-cats especially need a foster family for a quiet place to raise kittens until old enough for adoption.

Here’s where you come in. Foster a cat. Volunteer to help. And adopt a needy kitty–even if, or ESPECIALLY if you already love a dog. Here’s how!

CATS & DOGS MATCHMAKING TIPS

Easy-going dog breeds that don’t view smaller critters as LUNCH! make the best doggy friends for cats. Adult cats that have already lived with and been socialized to dogs also help speed up the introduction process. Kittens that are clueless may be more accepting of a new dog friend, especially if they’ve seen Mom-Cat be friendly with those weird-smelling bark machines.

Be aware that dogs and cats body language can mean contradictory things, so YOU need to interpret for them. Wagging dog tails invite you closer, but wagging cat tails warn you away. Just be sure your dog doesn’t get a face full of claws for being too nosy–that’s a terrible way to start a relationship.

Both pets need to be healthy. Cats need preventive care just like dogs do, and kitties that feel under the weather from illness or being spayed/neutered need time to recover before meeting the dog.

Savvy dog folks know that dog-to-dog intros work best on neutral territory–that’s outside your home, perhaps at a park. But cat intros for safety reasons need to happen INSIDE the house, so there are some clear differences in setting up the steps. You’ll find lots more how-to help for dealing with cat-dog challenges in my ComPETability(Cats-Dogs) book, but here are tips for getting started to build your very own peaceable kingdom between cats and dogs.

NEW-CatDogCompet-lorezHOW TO INTRODUCE CATS TO DOGS

  • Sequester the new kitty in a single room with all the necessary kitty accoutrements. Choose a room with a door that shuts completely such as second bedroom. Isolating the new cat tells your dog that only a small portion of the house has been invaded, not all the territory. It also gives your cat a safe retreat and place to cheek-rub and “claim” her territory. Cats will NOT be eager to meet new pets until they feel safe and comfy in their surroundings so give the cat a chance to find all the hiding spots, resting areas and safe perches in this one room for at least a week.
  • Expect cats to posture or hiss and dogs to sniff, whine, growl or bark on each side of the closed door. Feel encouraged once the barking and hissing fade, especially if the canine “play-bows” at the door or the pair play patty-cake-paws under the door. Magic whined…he wanted to meet the cat NOW NOW NOW!
  • After the kitty has been in the room alone for a few days, and any hisses or growls have faded, bring out something the new cat has scented, such as a plate of food where she just ate, and allow your dog smell it. THAT’LL bring on the wags! At my house, Magic gets to clean up the cat food bowls, but cat and kitten food has more protein and calories than dog food so too much could pack on the pudge. We have to be careful because Karma whats to eat Magic’s food, too.
  • Cats and dogs have very different nutritional needs and should eat only food that’s formulated for their specific needs. One lick here and there probably won’t hurt, though. (At least, that’s what Magic and Karma say!). The stress of introductions may cause some upset tummies or skin/coat issues, too. Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin can help.
  • Once the hissing fades and the paw pats increase, allow your new cat to wander around the rest of the house while Rex stays outside in the yard. Don’t force anything, simply open the isolation room door and let Sheba explore and “map” the location of all the good hiding places and high perches to feel safe.
  • While Sheba explores one of the other rooms, let your dog check out the “safe room” to become more familiar with the new cat’s smells. Just be sure the litter box is out of dog sniffing/munching range (yuck!). Putting the kitty potty on a countertop may work well.
  • Next, install a baby gate in the isolation room so the pair can meet at their own speed, but through the safety of the barrier. We still have baby gates for the kitchen that allows the tiny 5-pound Seren-Kitty to come and go but keeps Magic and Karma inside (or outside) as needed.
  • Once Sheba feels comfortable navigating your house, and meetings through the baby gate has gone well, prepare for whisker-to-whisker meetings. Avoid fanfare. Put the dog on a leash, and then open the baby gate and watch what happens. Keep the pets away from halls, doorways or other closely confined spaces during initial meetings. An open room with lots of space reduces tension and gives the cat places to escape and you more control.
  • Feed both pets during this initial meeting, on opposite ends of a room to distract them and also help them associate FOOD with each others’ presence.
  • If the pets aren’t interested in food, engage them in play. Whoever your dog feels closest to should interact with the cat, so Rex sees that YOU accept the kitty and will be more willing to follow his beloved owner’s example.
  • Ensure feline perches are out of dog-sniffing range but within Sheba’s reach. This was very important for Seren-Kitty, and she still prefers second-story territory when Magic is around. Interrupt sniffing every now and then by calling the dog away or guiding him with the leash. Keep these initial meetings short—about five to ten minutes—so you don’t wear out the pets.
  • If they start to play, great! Allow play for a few minutes, and then break up the games and end the session on a good note so they want more of each other. Please be aware–unlike dogs, cats play SILENTLY, so if your cat starts to vocalize during interaction with the dog, the kitty isn’t happy. Separate them and try again later.
  • Continue to segregate the cat in her safe room whenever you cannot directly supervise the pair. Most cats can jump over or can squeeze through the baby gate and regulate interactions. Continue to offer more planned meetings for another week, monitoring the dog until he can control himself and respects the cat even when off leash.
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It took time, but eventually with some very-yummy-cat-treats Seren deigned to come within sight of the Magical-Pup. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Nine years ago we introduced Magic-the-Puppy to Seren, it took her six months to feel comfortable enough to tell him off. Seren spent most of her time in my office on the second floor, and only came downstairs when the puppy slept. The only reason she lets Magic get close today is that at age 18 she can’t run away too well, so she resorts to hissing. Magic lets her bully him because from the very beginning he was taught that Seren was the boss.

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Magic alerted me that Karma-the-Stray needed our help, so it’s only natural they’re best buddies. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

But every cat and dog is different. When Karma came home, it was love at first sight between the kitten and German Shepherd. Magic finally had a cat that would (SWOON!) let him sniff kitty tail! Today the pair play chase and get each other into trouble and old-lady-Seren-Kitty stares with disdain from afar and kvetches.

So what are you waiting for? A shelter cat needs you–and your dog wants a kitty friend of his very own. Take it from Magical-Dawg, a cat can be a dog’s best pal.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!