Animal Behavior College Blog

Where Animal Lovers Pursue Animal Careers

Keep An Eye Out For Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Beat the Heat – Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

By Audrey Pavia

Protect Dogs for Heat Stroke

It’s summertime, and the living is easy. Especially for dogs. Pet owners are home a lot more, spending time barbecuing in the backyard and going on family outings. Dogs get more quality time with their people, and some lucky pups even get to go on road trips.

While summer offers plenty of opportunity for dogs to be outside having fun, it also poses some risks. Heat stroke and dehydration are dangers dogs face when the weather is hot. Unlike humans, dogs don’t cool themselves by sweating, but mostly through panting. This is not a very efficient way of cooling the body in hot weather, making dogs particularly susceptible to overheating.

Some dogs are even more prone to heat-related illness, including older dogs, dogs who are under the weather, and breeds with short muzzles, such as bulldogs and pugs.

You can do a lot to help protect your dog from suffering in the summer heat by keeping him cool, and recognizing potential signs of distress.

Making sure your dog stays hydrated will go a long way to ensuring his comfort during the summertime. Water is essential at all times of the year, but particularly during the summer when hot weather saps moisture from your dog’s body. Make sure your dog always has access to plenty of cool, fresh water so he can keep himself hydrated. If he’s outdoors, drop ice cubes in his water bowl frequently to keep the water chilled.

Dogs love to be outside during the summer, but it’s crucial your dog be able to get out of the hot sun when he’s had enough. Be sure he has a shady area where he can cool off when he needs to. On particularly hot days, keep him indoors in the air-conditioning.

Of course, never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows cracked. On a hot day, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to more than 120 degrees, which can be fatal to your dog.

If you are hiking or playing with your dog outside, keep an eye out for these signs of heat stroke:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty breathing, including heavy panting
  • Tongue and mucous membranes are a bright red color
  • Thick saliva
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal temperature over 104 degrees F (100-102 is normal)

If your dog shows any signs of heat stroke, get him out of the heat right away. If possible take him into an air-conditioned building. If his temperature is higher than 104, put him in a bathtub of cool (not ice cold) water. Take his temperature again in 10 minutes. Once his temperature is back to normal, make an appointment with a veterinarian to have him examined. Heat stroke can sometimes cause damage to internal organs.

Signs of severe heat stroke include staggering when trying to walk; seizures; dark red, purple of blue gums; and coma. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, wrap him in cool wet towels and rush him to a veterinarian immediately.

By taking the right precautions and keeping an eye out for heat stroke, you can make sure your dog has a safe, fun and happy summer.

About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit

June – Veterinary Assistant Program Student Of The Month – 2014

ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Student of the Month
June 2014

Victoria Boone

Veterinary Assistant Student Of The Month Victoria Boone – June 2014

Victoria Boone (“Tori”) lives in Lawrenceville, Ga., and works full time at Tiger Tails Animal Hospital in Duluth, Ga. For the past 16 years, she has worked in the newspaper industry as a copy editor and features writer. In 2009, Tori began volunteering at the Georgia SPCA to give back to the community and, as a life-long dog lover, she devoted a lot of her time there. She was at the SPCA so often that she was offered a part-time position on the kennel staff. Tori loved helping animals but after about 6 months she wanted to do more.

How did you hear about the ABC program and what convinced you to become certified?

I came across Animal Behavior College on the Internet. I liked how ABC worked (and is flexible) with students like me who are older and working full-time but want to go back to school. I also liked the lower cost of the ABC program compared to other schools. I didn’t want to go into a lot of debt going back to school in my 30s.

What has your experience been like in the ABC Veterinary Assistant Program?

My experience in the ABC veterinary assistant program was a very good one. I learned a lot about myself personally and professionally. I learned what I could handle well and what sort of things I needed to work on once I got into my externship. My externship coordinator Samantha and my program manager Penny were both very kind and helpful to me when I had concerns or questions about my externship or my tests.

What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

The most rewarding moment was when a client came in the hospital to pick up her dog’s collar two days after I assisted with the euthanasia of her dog, Sierra, who had cancer. When she came in she looked at me and said, “Thank you for being so nice and thoughtful during such a difficult time for me and my family.” It made me feel like I really helped this lady with the loss of her family pet.

What skills do you want to master during the next 12 months?

The skill I want to master is feeling completely comfortable and confident drawing blood from an animal; it’s been one of the most challenging things for me to master. I also want to master restraining smaller dogs because I’ve found that smaller dogs are harder to restrain than larger dogs because the smaller ones are very squirmy.

What are your future career plans?

My future career plans are just to continue learning from Tiger Tails to become the best veterinary assistant I can be. If I feel like time and money allow it, I may consider going back to school to become a registered vet technician.

June – Grooming Instruction Program Student Of The Month – 2014

ABC Grooming Instruction Program Student of the Month
June 2014

Rina Causey

Grooming Student Of The Month Rina Causey

Born in Okinawa, Japan, Rina Causey moved to Yakima, Wash., a little more than a year ago when her husband, who is serving in the military, was transferred back to the U.S. She is completing her externship at Debbie’s Pet Grooming in Zillah, Wash. The salon’s owner, Debbie, frequently sends ABC praise and pictures of Rina’s latest groom success. She is very impressed with Rina’s progress and potential as a professional pet groomer.

Was pet grooming your first career choice? If not, what was it?

In Japan, I worked as a hair removal technician and I am also a certified massage therapist.

What animal or person most inspired you to pursue a career in the animal industry?

My husband and my miniature poodle, Marty, inspired me to pursue a career in the pet grooming industry. After I moved to Yakima, I couldn’t decide which grooming salon to take Marty to—and he needed to be trimmed badly. I researched online how to trim a dog’s hair and I decided to give it a try myself. The end result was not pretty and not what I wanted my dog to look like. I wanted to improve my skills. Around that time, my husband told me about Animal Behavior College’s grooming school commercial he saw on TV. So I went to its website and received information about the program. I really liked the hands-on training portion of the program and the ability to have online study, since I had just had a baby.

What knowledge and experiences have you gained from becoming an ABC certified pet groomer?

I have learned a lot of things through both my written stages and externship. I learned about dog’s and cat’s anatomy. I liked this part because you learn how the body moves and functions, so when you move the dogs or cats during grooming, it doesn’t hurt them and is more comfortable. I enjoyed the stage about getting familiar with your grooming tools and how to maintain them. It helped me feel more prepared for my externship. I also enjoyed Stage 9 about Business Building. There was a lot of helpful and applicable information in that section.

What was the biggest challenge you have faced during externship and how did you overcome?

I am really enjoying my externship and learning from my mentor Debbie. I am only about halfway through my hours so far. I am working very hard to learn to groom smoothly and efficiently. As a groomer, you want to make sure you can do a certain number of dogs in a certain time, otherwise you will not make a good living. I am working on picking up my speed without compromising the quality of my work. I pay close attention to my mentor and how she moves around the dogs when grooming and how long she takes at each task. I’ve been paying close attention to the clock, as well, so I know how long I should take for each task.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to gain more experience at Debbie’s Pet Grooming. I hope to master scissoring techniques in the next 12 months. I think mastering your scissoring techniques is critical for producing breed standard trims. I hope to open my own grooming salon in the next 10 years. I can really see myself in the future being happy with my career choices and enjoying owning my own shop.

June Grooming Instruction Program Canadian Student Of The Month – 2014

ABC Grooming Instruction Program Canadian Student of the Month– June 2014

Jade Gibbons

Student Jade Gibbons and her puppy KaliJade Gibbons is one of Animal Behavior College’s star students. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and is employed and completing her externship at A Dirty Dog Spa, which is also in Edmonton. Before enrolling with Animal Behavior College, Jade was already involved in the pet grooming industry. She has worked at four different shops and shadowed various groomers as a bather and grooming assistant. Jade took ABC’s pet grooming program in order to strengthen her background and skills, as well as boost her knowledge, ability and creativity as a groomer.

What prompted you to become a pet groomer? Was there a specific event, circumstance or person who inspired you to pursue this career?

I have always loved animals and knew I wanted to pursue something in that field. My very first job when I was 14 years old was at a boarding kennel with a groom shop; I worked as a bather. It was challenging work, but I loved it. From that point on, I knew I wanted to work with animals. At first I wanted to become a veterinary technician, but then found out that groomers make a better living. It sounded like more fun, too, since sometimes you can be creative with your grooms.

What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

My most rewarding moments are the client’s reactions to how wonderful their babies look when they come to pick them up from a day at the spa. The dogs’ tails are wagging and they are yipping and jumping and everyone is smiling. It feels really good to see how happy pet owners are with how their dog looks. It feels awesome to see how much they like the style and appreciate my hard work.

Have you started working professionally as a groomer yet?

Jades dogs Kali and ThorYes, I am working professionally in a grooming salon. I work full-time at A Dirty Dog Spa, the same place where I did my externship. I work as a bather two days a week and the other three days I get to work as a groomer, which is my favorite. My mentor, Margaret, is a national certifier for Edmonton, so we get to do a lot of fun show cuts and, of course, pet cuts as well. I even had the opportunity to help my mentor get her dogs ready for show. I am having a lot of fun.

What are your future career plans?

My plan is to work at a groom shop for at least 3 years straight to gain more experience. I eventually would like build my clientele and experience, and then open my own shop out of my house. Before doing any of that though, I need to get more comfortable with handling my scissors and mastering how to complete faces and double-coated short bath and tidies.

If you could work style a dog or cat after any celebrity, who would it be and why?

I think it would be really fun to style a Standard Poodle after Elvis Presley. He is a legend and had such classic, yet dramatic style. I have seen it done before and it looks so creative and fun. It would be fun to try to create the personality and style in a dog.

June 2014 – ABC Dog Training Program Student of the Month – USA

ABC Dog Training Program Student of the Month – USA – June 2014

Manny Guerra, ABCDT

Manny Guerra Dog Training Student Of The Month

Manny Guerra, a recent graduate of ABC’s Dog Obedience Program, resides in Palm Springs, Calif., and works at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. He was inspired to become a certified dog trainer because of his job at the shelter. While there, Manny gained the basic knowledge of socializing and handling but craved more, and that’s why he started at ABC. He has already started training professionally part-time conducting private lessons and assisting with another company’s basic obedience classes. Manny’s ultimate goal is offer classes through his own business. He approaches training with positive energy and intentions, and said that doing so will result in great responses and lead to his success.

What was/is the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was remembering that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I am a perfectionist and am always trying to reach new heights. We are all human and we all make mistakes. It is what we choose to do after that makes the biggest difference. I was able to overcome this feeling by being consistent and persistent in achieving my goals.

Was dog training your first career choice? If not, what was it?

Dog training was not originally my first career choice but rather an addition to my overall vision. All the other professions I take part in help to reinforce my success as a dog trainer. I am so happy I found dog training because I could not be more passionate about helping dogs. I suppose I am attracted to it because I am already a teacher. Dog training has since helped me with my own dogs as well. My goal is to set up a perfect world for myself where I spend my time inspiring children and dogs to be the best that they can be.

How did you hear about the ABC program and what convinced you to become certified?

I learned about the ABC program through another trainer who was doing work at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. She suggested I start there because it would give me an excellent foundation to build from. Since I was already searching for something to further my knowledge, it did not take any convincing at all and I jumped at the opportunity to sign up.

What are your plans for dog training? Do you want specialize in particular type of training (e.g., aggression, PTSD, therapy or guide dogs) or in training a particular breed of dog?

My plans are to spend as much time as possible surrounding myself with dogs and training them. I will build a successful business while I’m at it. I would love to work with all types of dogs but I do have a soft spot for scared and nervous dogs, so there will be some focus in that area.

What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

The most rewarding moment during my externship was definitely having the opportunity to meet wonderful trainers who have inspired me to do great things. I am blessed to have had the chance to work so closely with these professionals. I was given amazing feedback that fueled my drive even further.

June 2014 Dog Obedience Program Canadian Student Of The Month

Dog Obedience Instruction Program
Canadian Student of the Month
June 2014

Laura Rosati

Dog Training Program Student of the Month Laura RosatiSoon to be Animal Behavior Graduate Laura Rosati lives in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Canada. She decided to become a Certified Dog Trainer for the additional experience and knowledge it will provide for her dog training career. Laura discovered ABC through a Google search. For the past year, she has been training part time at a Petsmart in St. Catherine’s and will become a full time trainer at a Niagara Falls Petsmart location in June. Laura is ecstatic that she will be the Head Trainer and also to have the opportunity to help pet parents, their dogs, puppies and rescues.

What prompted you to become a dog trainer? Was there a specific event, circumstance or person who inspired you to pursue this career?

After graduating Brock University, I decided to take a year off of school and give back to the community. Part of that was volunteering at my local humane society. While there, I fell in love with one of the dogs who had been there for almost a year. I wanted to help her really, really badly. Her name was Maya and it felt like almost everybody had given up hope on her. She was a hyper, rambunctious crazy girl. It seemed as though she was hard-pressed to find anybody who she could genuinely connect with on a positive level. However, it seemed like I had made an impression on her, so I made the decision to go to all of those with authority at the Humane Society to get approval to work with Maya. I had no previous training other than experience with other humane society dogs. They let me work with Maya, so I was allowed to take her off compound and try to socialize her to regular everyday life occurrences. Maya and I connected on a very social and positive level. I firmly believe that our month together played a big role in her rehabilitation, so much so that someone came into the humane society, fell in love with her, adopted her, and now she has her forever home. Maya was my push to make rehabilitation and dog obedience my career goal.

What was/is the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?
I have no major complaints about my externship in terms of difficulties to overcome.

My trainer, Jessica Adams, was an excellent source of information and helped me through everything along the way. My externship felt like smooth sailing. The material was fun to learn and teaching was always a blast. My dog Kramer loved every moment of it as well.

What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?

My top rewarding moment was when Kramer completed a series of commands without any preparation. Jessica Adams asked us to demonstrate before for the rest of the class a series of commands in the chain formation that we have never done. I had to ask Kramer to sit and wait on one end of an aisle, walk to the other end of the aisle, call him to me and without touching his leash, get him to go beside me and heel in multiple different directions. Still, without touching his leash, ask him to sit and go to his bed on the floor a little ways away from me. Kramer completed everything perfectly. This really was a testament, not only to how hard we have trained, but also to the bond Kramer and I have built since adopting him last summer from Guelph Humane Society.

What has your experience been like in the ABC Dog Obedience Program?

Nothing but positive; the course work has added to my knowledge while working with customers at Petsmart. I literally hear people saying, “Wow. You really know your stuff.” Once I was called an encyclopedia. Plus, clients whose dogs I train feel more comfortable with me because I can provide them with sound information.

What are your plans for dog training? Do you want specialize in particular type of training (e.g., aggression, PTSD, therapy or guide dogs) or in training a particular breed of dog?

Laura Rosati Dog Trainer collageMy long-term goal is to be a very versatile pet trainer, with knowledge in all regards. However, if there is one thing my rescue dog Kramer, and all other dogs I have built strong bonds with have taught me, it’s that I have a natural gift with hyperactive, eager, looking-to-please-and-learn types of dogs. Those dogs you look at and think “Wow, they have so much energy I could never handle that,” those are the dogs I gravitate most toward. My experience is that these types of dogs can go one of two directions: they either become a dog who falls into the hands of someone who can teach them all the right commands and behaviors; or one who falls into incapable hands, learns incorrect behaviors and winds up in a humane society to be euthanized.

I see so much potential in these dogs that I want to give them the opportunity to become the best they can be in the right hands. And this is why, along with basic, intermediate obedience and obedience, I want to offer courses that provide outlets for these dogs, such as agility and trick training that can be used in everyday life. My main focus will always be to strengthen the communication between dog and pet parent so both parties can have their needs understood and met.

Animal Behavior College Programs are Ideal for Career Changers

A Young Girl Holding A Clock And Making FaceMany people are re-examining their careers and making a change. Some are pursuing their passion for pets in an animal-related career by enrolling in Animal Behavior College programs in hope of either starting a business or working for someone else. Now may be the time to make the move, as the employment outlook appears promising. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of animal care and service workers in the U.S. will grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.

“Pets today are living longer, eating healthier and receiving more services from groomers, veterinarians and trainers,” Said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of Animal Behavior College. “The College has seen increased enrollment in our programs as demand for these skills   continue to provide excellent employment opportunities for our graduates.”

People spend a lot of money on their pets. In fact, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that Americans will spend $58.51 billion on their pets this year for food, veterinary care, supplies and over-the-counter medicine, pet grooming and boarding and pet purchases combined. High turnover and rapid employment growth is expected to provide excellent job opportunities in the areas of pet training, grooming and veterinary staff.

Animal Behavior College prepares students by offering three certification programs, Dog Obedience Training (DOP), Veterinary Assist Program (VAP) and Grooming Instruction Program (GIP), giving students the education and training necessary to compete. By combining a comprehensive education with hands-on, practical experience in an open-enrollment format that is online and convenient, students acquire essential tools, training and expertise necessary to succeed. The three Certification Programs include:

Dog Obedience Instructor (DOP). This program teaches training techniques using positive reinforcement. Students learn behavioral principles and practical ways to incorporate them into their training regimen. They learn training basics, safety, effective problem solving and pet first aid while gaining hands-on experience and an opportunity to participate in an externship with a mentor. For more information, visit

Veterinary Assistant (VAP). Students learn techniques used for handling and working with animals in a veterinary hospital, as well as situations most often encountered. The curriculum covers office, hospital and examination room procedures, surgical preparation and assistance procedures and radiology and ultrasound imaging to name a few. Students also gain hands-on experience and career building, resume writing, financial planning and effective interviewing skills. This program also provides an externship at a veterinary hospital under the guidance of a mentor. For more information, visit

Grooming Instruction (GIP). Students learn grooming techniques, health and safety, dog and cat grooming, clipper use and scissor control techniques, body styles and breed specific cuts and pet CPR and first aid. Students learn ergonomics and ways in which to perform tasks without causing any strain or damage to their joints and muscles. This program also includes a hands-on externship. For more information, visit

DOP and VAP students attain significant business-building tools to help them succeed in the industry. They learn everything from how to create a business plan to budgeting and marketing techniques. Additionally, they learn skills necessary to work as an employee in the pet industry like resume writing and job searching.

ABC also offers a variety of continuing education programs (CEPs) on several subjects including, cat management and training, pet nutrition, pet massage, pet sitting and training shelter dogs. These programs help students to enhance their skills and increase their knowledge base.

Flea Control – Protect Your Pets from Fleas

Flea Control: When Natural Doesn’t Work

By Lisa King

Anyone who owns a cat or a dog must deal with fleas. They not only make your pets miserable, they bite people, too, causing annoying itchy bumps.

Fleas prefer warm, humid conditions, which means they are seasonal in cold climates but are a problem all year round in the Southeast and Southwest. Dogs bring fleas into the house from outside, but even if you only have indoor cats, be on the lookout for fleas. People can track the eggs in on their shoes.

Natural flea prevention is the safest method (see last month’s article “All Natural Flea Control for Pets” by Stacy Mantle), but sometimes stronger measures are required. If you have a persistent flea problem, ask your veterinarian for advice. Consider the people as well as the pets in your household when choosing flea products—if you live with a pregnant woman or small children, topicals—the spot-on medications that you apply between your pet’s shoulder blades— might not be the best choice. Although topicals kill fleas for a month, it can take a few days for all the fleas to die. In addition, in some areas fleas have evolved to be resistant to certain types of topicals.

If you use topicals on your cat, make sure you are using a product formulated specifically for cats. Many topicals for dogs contain permethrin, which is fatal to cats.

Oral flea medications are an option that will not impact others in your household. Capstar kills all fleas within 30 minutes or so, but has no residual effect. Spinosad (sold as Comfortis) is a fast-acting neurotoxin that can have serious side effects in some animals but is very effective at killing fleas for an entire month. Both medications are approved for cats and dogs.

Sometimes it is worth the risk of side effects to use these strong oral medications. One of my cats is severely allergic to flea bites. He scratches them so hard that he wears off the fur and skin on his neck and face. He has had to take several rounds of antibiotics for skin infections. I finally broke down and gave him spinosad, which he tolerates well, and it has kept him flea-free.

Remember that for every flea you find on your dog or cat, there are dozens more in your home. Here are a few measures you can take to minimize the flea activity in and around your house:

  • Feed your pets a high-quality diet. The healthier your dog or cat is, the easier it will be for him to resist a flea infestation.
  • Bathe your dog regularly with a mild shampoo. If your cat will cooperate (or at least not attempt to eviscerate you), wash him as well, but less often.
  • Use a flea comb on your pets every couple of days during flea season. Drop the fleas in a cup of water with a few drops of dish detergent in it—this will cause them to sink and drown.
  • Wash all pet bedding regularly. Also wash blankets, pillows and rugs where your pets spend time.
  • Vacuum regularly and thoroughly, and not just your floors. Fleas also lay eggs on upholstery and curtains. If you have sofas with slipcovers, you can de-flea them easily by simply throwing the covers in the wash.
  • Keep your pets’ claws clipped. That way, even if they do get a few fleas and scratch, they will do less damage to their skin.
  • Spread beneficial nematodes on your lawn and gardens. They are available at garden stores and some pet supply stores. They not only kill fleas, but many other pests as well.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”


Dog and Equestrian Relationships

Dog and Equestrian Relationships

By Audrey Pavia

It’s difficult to find a horse owner who doesn’t also live with at least one dog. Horses and dogs are a natural combination. If you love horses, chances are you love dogs, too.

Although dogs and horses can often become great friends, danger is inherent whenever these two species come together. The sheer size of a horse, combined with its nature as a prey animal, can mean trouble for even the mellowest dog. Likewise, dogs can pose a great danger to horses as well.

In order to keep your dog safe around horses, it’s important to remember that horses are often afraid of dogs, and will kick, bite or strike to defend themselves. A well-placed kick from a horse can cause severe injury or death.

Conversely, a dog can cause damage to a horse by biting it, chasing it or scaring it to the point where the horse injures itself trying to escape.

Before allowing your dog to be around horses, follow these precautions:

  • Train your dog. Provide your dog with basic training so he will respect your authority when in the presence of a horse. Teach him that horses are not to be chased or barked at. This is especially important if the horse is being ridden.
  • Use a leash. When your dog first meets a horse, keep him on leash so you can control his reaction. Do not allow him off leash until you are certain he will not harass the horse.
  • Teach respect. If your dog has no fear of horses, teach him to stay away from the horse’s legs. Some dogs are so comfortable around horses; they can get underfoot and be stepped on. A healthy fear of horses is a good thing for a dog.
  • Gauge the horse. Before allowing your dog to approach a horse, get a sense of the horse’s reaction to your dog. Determine if the horse seems undisturbed—head and neck are level with the rest of the body, the eye is calm, muscles relaxed—before allowing your dog anywhere near the horse. If the horse is tense, with his head raised and nostrils flaring, or is being ridden, keep your dog away.
  • Watch for pack mentality. Your dog may ignore horses when he’s alone, but could become harassing when in the company of a more aggressive dog. If another dog is present, determine whether this dog might be a bad influence on your normally well-behaved canine.
  • Discourage play. Horses and dogs sometimes like to play together, but this should be discouraged. Horses may find it fun to have a dog run alongside them when they are galloping through a field, but a playful kick from the horse can prove fatal to the dog. This behavior also encourages aggression on the part of the dog, and should not be permitted.
  • Supervise your dog. Never take for granted that your dog is safe around horses. Always keep a close watch on him whenever a horse is nearby.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit

Benefits of Hugging Your Cat

Hug Your Cat!

By Sandy Robins

Did you know that June 4 is officially Hug Your Cat Day? It’s the purrfect oppurrtunity to celebrate the power of the purr.

It’s actually been scientifically proven that cats are good for us. Research done at the University of Minnesota deduced that cat owners are 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack.

There is no question that if you have had a bad day at the office or, for any reason, are particularly stressed, the moment your cat greets you at the door and insists on a game of fetch (as my Ziggy does) or simply climbs on your lap, you begin to relax and benefit from your cat’s slow and gentle purr.

There are many ways to celebrate this wonderful human-feline bond. Sitting and relaxing with your cat on your lap is a no-brainer.

Grooming your cat can be considered “hugging” her, too, because it is a great way to bond. Once you have found the ideal grooming tool, cats enjoy being brushed and it’s a great way to spend time with her, not to mention the benefits of getting rid of shedding fur.

I mention the ideal grooming tool because lots of cats don’t like the feel of anything metal on their fur and skin. They prefer a grooming mitt that offers a simultaneous massage—who can resist that?

Hugging also falls under the heading of playing with your cat. Cats enjoy all kinds of games and will turn anything into a fun toy—such as a cardboard box that you had something delivered in.

However, the best games are interactive ones .In other words, games that involve both you and your favorite feline—just like Ziggy’s endless games of fetch, which we play with a wand toy. Wands and laser tools are a great way for the two of you to interact. Cats enjoy pounce-and-play type games and will often include a couple of head butts during the games. This is their way of hugging you back.

Cats blink at their people and also yawn, which are recognized signs of affection; so be sure to blink back. Your feline will understand the communication.

But the most important thing to remember is that cats enjoy their people every day. It’s not a matter of hugging your cat, but how many times you hug them in a day that really counts!

Hug Your Cat Day is a great idea to have on the pet calendar. Actually, every day should be hug your cat day. Your cat deserves nothing less.

About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as, and She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats