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In this lesson, we’re going to go over cat and dog behaviors you should monitor at home, specifically eating habits, bathroom habits, and social habits or behaviors. Doing so may help you get a jump on a problem before it becomes serious. At the end of the lesson, we’ll provide you with a Word about making paw-safe ice melt.

Pro Tip #1: We mentioned this in a previous lesson but it’s worth repeating: Before you can determine what’s abnormal for your cat or dog, you first have to understand what is normal for your pet. Consider the following three behaviors a good starting point.

Eating Habits

The first pet behavior you should be keeping an eye on may also be the easiest to monitor – your cat or dog’s eating habits. First, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my pet’s normal eating habits?
  • Is he or she a voracious eater, gobbling down food as fast as you can put it in the food bowl?
  • Or does my pet eat more slowly and graze when it comes to food time?

If your dog or cat normally eats quickly, and suddenly, he or she is pushing around food in the bowel like a disgruntled child moving lima beans around a dinner plate, that’s a good sign there may be a problem.

Also, keep in mind how much your pet normally eats. If your pet is typically a voracious eater and then one day leaves half the food in the food bowl uneaten, again, this could be a sign of a problem.

Pro Tip #2: What should you do if you notice a problem in one of these three pet behaviors? Investigate further! Something tells me we’ll be getting into the how in subsequent lessons.

Bathroom Habits

Another behavior you should consider monitoring is your pet’s bathroom habits. Again, you should be asking the following:

  • What is normal for my dog or cat?
  • How often is my dog asking to go outside?
  • How often is my cat making trips to the litter box?

Bathroom behavior is significant when it deviates from the norm. A simple change in bathroom habits – either an increase or a decrease – can be an early warning sign that something is not quite right with your pet.

Social Habits

The last cat or dog behavior you should try monitoring is your pet’s social habits or behaviors. Ask yourself the following questions to get a sense of what’s normal for your pet:

  • How does my cat or dog interact with me?
  • How does my cat or dog interact with other family members?
  • How does my cat or dog interact with the other pets in the household?

If your dog normally greets you at the door every time you come home from work, or really whenever you’re away, and then one day he isn’t there when you come in, this could be a signal that something is wrong.

Alternatively, if your cat typically wants nothing to do with your dog – as in leaving the room as soon as your dog enters – and then you notice one day that your cat didn’t go anywhere, this again could be a problem.

It might be a mistake to think that maybe your cat suddenly had a change of heart and now loves dogs. Likely, your cat isn’t feeling well, and you should attempt to find out why.

Understanding what’s normal for your pet is the foundation on which much of this course is built. Get to know your pet as an individual. Get to know your pet’s normal behaviors in these three areas listed above. If you do, you’ll be better equipped to notice when something isn’t right.

A Word About Making Paw Safe Ice Melt

In a previous Word section, we provided you with some winter safety tips for your dog. You may recall from that lesson, that normal salt isn’t pet-safe and can actually burn the bottom of your dog’s paws.

Well, in this Word section, we’re going to give you a recipe that you can use to melt the ice on your driveway and walkways that your pet can safely walk on, thanks to pet expert Cara Armour.

Don’t worry, cooking skills are not necessary. Also, these three items are likely already in your household or easy to find at your local store and/or pharmacy.

Paw Safe Ice Melt Ingredients

  • 1 tsp of Dawn dish soap*
  • 1 tbsp of rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 gallon of hot water

Put all of these ingredients into a watering can with a rosette nozzle (kind of like your shower head) and apply to icy areas.

*If you’re wondering what that little star is for next to the dish soap in the ingredient list, it’s there because other brands do not work as effectively. At least, that’s the word on the street; a street we hope is ice-free and safe for your dog.

You can, of course, purchase pet-safe de-icer, but this is going to be much more expensive.

Also, Cara provides one useful tip for those particularly thick icy areas: coarse kosher salt. Check out the entire article for more helpful (and dog-safe) information – How to Make Paw Safe Ice Melt.