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How To Get a Dog To Drink Water

There are four key health requirements for every pooch: tons of cuddles, plenty of exercise, tasty and nutritious dog food, and enough water to keep them hydrated. When it comes to water consumption, though, it can be tricky to know whether your pup’s getting the right amount. And in the event they aren’t drinking enough H2O, it’s important to troubleshoot the reasons why so you can remedy the issue.

In addition to ensuring hydration, water helps your dog regulate their body temperature, assists in nutrient absorption, fosters joint and muscle health, and even aids in urinary and digestive health. Ahead, we’re covering some common reasons why your furry friend may seem water-shy, how much water dogs should drink, and how to increase your dog’s water intake.

How Much Water Should My Dog Be Drinking?

Generally speaking, a dog needs 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight per day, says veterinarian Gavin Casper, DVM, managing director at Hometown Animal Hospital in Weston, Florida. “So, a five-pound dog should drink 5 ounces, a 50-pound dog should drink 50 ounces and a 100-pound dog should drink 100 ounces,” he explains.

This amount may differ slightly based on:

  • Your dog’s activity level
  • Your dog’s diet
  • How much time they’ve spent outside
  • Whether it’s a hot day

If your dog eats wet food, tends to lounge around more or the temperature’s cool, they may not need as much water. Conversely, if you’re working with a high-energy pooch, hot temps or mostly dry kibble, then your dog may need more water.

How To Tell How Much Water Your Dog’s Drinking

The best way to determine how much water your dog’s drinking is to monitor their water bowl or water fountain. Measure how much water you put into the bowl in the morning, allow them to drink freely from the bowl throughout the day (refill as needed), then measure how much water is left at night. If you refill your dog’s bowl during the day, remember to take that into account by measuring each refill. This will give you a good approximation of your dog’s water intake.

Why Isn’t My Dog Drinking Water?

If you notice your pup doesn’t head to their water bowl very often, consider these common reasons:

  • Stale or Gross Water: Dirty water isn’t very appetizing. Make sure your pup has access to a clean water source and that you refresh their bowl each day. “If a water bowl is not clean or the water has an odor or taste that is unappealing, they can be reluctant to drink,” notes Paige Baker, DVM and regional medical director of IndeVet in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Bad Location: If your dog’s water bowl is in a noisy or high-traffic area of your home, they may not drink as much as they should, notes Heather Berst, DVM, a veterinarian with Zoetis, located in Asheville, North Carolina. “Also, another dog in the household may be preventing the dog from drinking,” she adds.
  • Injury: An injury to the mouth or jaw or dental issues can discourage a dog from drinking. Also, if your pup struggles with mobility and the water dish is far away, they may prefer to stay put rather than walk all the way to their water source.
  • Health Issues: “A change in water consumption can mean there is something else going on with your dog,” says Dr. Berst. “Your best bet is to speak with your veterinarian about if your dog is drinking enough and if there are changes in the amount they are drinking.”
  • Canned Dog Food Diet: Dogs who eat canned wet food may not be as thirsty as those who eat dry food, since they’re getting water through their meals. Switching from dry food to wet food can cause a change in drinking behavior from the get-go.

How To Get a Dog To Drink Water

Drinking water keeps your pup healthy and happy. Follow these tips to increase their water intake.

Photo of a woman cleaning a dog bowlPhoto of a woman cleaning a dog bowl

1Keep Their Water Fresh and Tasty

Dogs may steer clear of old or dirty water, so make sure they’ve always got access to fresh water. Cold water with ice cubes is a nice, refreshing treat on hot days. If you’re traveling and they don’t like the water wherever you are, try switching to store-bought water bottles for the time being.
Photo of a dog standing beside a dog water bowlPhoto of a dog standing beside a dog water bowl

2Provide Multiple Bowls of Water

Dr. Berst recommends placing several water bowls in different locations around the house to see if your pup has a preference for one spot over another. This can also help your pup if they’re fearful about another animal in the house and don’t want to share the same water bowl.
Photo of a dog drinking from a dog water fountainPhoto of a dog drinking from a dog water fountain

3Try a Different Bowl

Consider swapping out your dog’s old water bowl for something new to see if that sparks interest in good old H2O. “My favorite bowls are stainless steel, because you can sanitize them easily in the dishwasher,” says Dr. Baker. She adds, “Make sure you are cleaning their water bowls daily to prevent the buildup of dirt, debris or slime.”

Also consider a water fountain, which keeps the water running all day long. The sound is a beacon to your pup, and they may enjoy the running “fresh water” appeal. A nice option is Pioneer Pet Stainless Steel Dog & Cat Fountain Raindrop Design.

Photo of a dog eating wet foodPhoto of a dog eating wet food

4Add Wet Food to Their Diet

Incorporating wet canned food into your dog’s diet will naturally increase their daily water intake. “Canned food has a higher water content than dry food and will naturally aid in water consumption as a result,” notes Dr. Casper.

Alternatively, you can try giving them a bone broth—such as Brutus Broth Beef Flavor Hip & Joint Human-Grade Dog Food Topper—throughout the day, or you can drizzle a little over their dry kibble as a topper. Just be sure to monitor their caloric intake, since wet food can sometimes be higher in calories.

Photo of a woman giving a dog a treatPhoto of a woman giving a dog a treat

5Reward Your Dog for Drinking Water

In the same way you can train your dog to sit, shake hands and stay, you can train them to head to the water bowl for a good drink. After they finish drinking their water, give them affirmative praise and a small, tasty treat.
Photo of a dog stepping on a water toyPhoto of a dog stepping on a water toy

6Play Water Games

Encourage water consumption by playing games or using toys that involve water. “You can squirt a hose and have them jump at it or buy a water toy for dogs,” suggests Dr. Berst. For example, the Pet Fit For Life Dog Step-on Sprinkler Dog Toy is a fun one!

Crunchy ice cubes are a pup favorite that helps increase their daily water consumption, too. It can be fun to swap them in for your regular treats during playtime. They’re especially nice on hot days where a cool treat is much appreciated. Consider tossing your pooch one or two cubes at a time throughout the day—but be aware of potential risks like tooth breakage, wear on tooth enamel, and choking. Find out more about these risks, and talk to your veterinarian for advice tailored to your dog.

Is My Dog Dehydrated?

It is important to know the difference between a thirsty dog and a dehydrated dog. “A thirsty dog may simply need a bowl of water, while a dehydrated dog may need to be evaluated by a veterinary professional,” says Dr. Casper.

Signs of a thirsty dog include:

  • Panting
  • Heavier breathing
  • Excess drool
  • Standing close to their water bowl

Dehydration is much more serious and requires immediate veterinary intervention. Signs of dehydration include:

  • Low energy
  • Tacky gums (versus slippery)
  • Decreased skin elasticity
  • Dry nose
  • Vomiting
  • Sunken eyes

Learn more about dog dehydration and how to prevent it from happening.

Keeping your pup hydrated is a must in order to ensure their short- and long-term health. Keep an eye on their daily intake to make sure they’re getting enough, and follow the above tips to increase their intake if necessary. If loss of appetite is an issue, check out our advice on how to entice a dog at mealtime.

Expert input provided by Dr. Gavin Casper, DVM, managing director at Hometown Animal Hospital in Weston, Florida.; Dr. Paige Baker, DVM, regional medical director of IndeVet in Charlotte, North Carolina; Heather Berst, DVM, a veterinarian with Zoetis in Asheville, North Carolina.

The post How To Get a Dog To Drink Water appeared first on BeChewy.

Can Dogs Eat Ham? Is Ham Toxic to Dogs?

As a pet parent, it’s tempting to want to share every meal you eat with your furry friend, but unfortunately, that’s not always in their best interest. While some “human foods” are OK for our pups, and may even offer some nutritional benefit, ham is not the best choice. In short, the answer to the question, “Can dogs eat ham?” is yes. But should dogs eat ham? Not necessarily.

Ham isn’t toxic, but there are other foods that are more beneficial to your dog’s health. If you want to give your dog a small slice of ham every now and then, it likely won’t cause harm, but there are some things to consider.

Expert input provided by Dr. Leslie Sinn, DVM, ACVB, CPDT-KA, founder of Behavior Solutions in Ashburn, VA.

Is Ham Toxic to Dogs?

Ham isn’t inherently toxic to dogs, but it’s still a “proceed with caution” type of food, according to Dr. Sinn.

In other words, a little bit of ham here and there likely isn’t going to cause any harm, but it has the potential to cause stomach upset and inflammatory conditions, like pancreatitis, if your pup overdoes it.

Risks of Ham for Dogs

High Fat Content

One of the biggest risks of ham is its high fat content. The risk is not the ham itself; it’s the fat intertwined with that ham, says Dr. Sinn. Fatty meals can precipitate pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. This can affect all dog breeds and include clinical signs like vomiting, fever, lethargy, abdominal pain, diarrhea and decreased appetite. While mild cases of pancreatitis typically resolve on their own, your dog may need veterinary care if symptoms persist.

The fat in ham can also slow down digestion, which can lead to bloating and constipation.

High Sodium Content

In addition to lots of fat, ham has a high sodium content. Eating too much can cause excessive thirst and long-term health issues such as high blood pressure (hypertension), kidney disease and heart disease. A small amount of ham every once in a while isn’t enough to trigger these types of health conditions, but large amounts can contribute too much salt to your dog’s diet.

High Sugar Content

Many commercial hams are also prepared with excessive amounts of added sugar, which isn’t a part of a dog’s normal diet. Eating too much sugar can contribute to obesity and metabolic changes, like diabetes, that can affect the way your dog processes food.

Too Many Calories

High-fat typically means high calories too. While a piece of ham here and there won’t likely contribute too many calories to your dog’s diet, you want to be mindful of their overall calorie intake when you’re feeding ham or any other human food (or treats).

According to Dr. Sinn, taking in too many calories doesn’t just lead to weight gain, it can also cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset that results in diarrhea, vomiting and more frequent defecation.

It’s Highly Processed

Ham is a highly processed meat, and it often contains sodium-based preservatives like nitrates and nitrites. Some research has indicated that these types of preservatives can potentially increase the risk of certain types of cancer in dogs. There’s also some speculation that a large amount of nitrates can negatively affect a dog’s thyroid gland.

These findings could be potential issues to consider. And it might not be worth the risk.


This isn’t an issue with the ham itself, but Dr. Sinn says that one of the problems veterinarians—especially emergency veterinarians—see is blockages from opportunistic dogs who got into something they shouldn’t have.

She says that, often, pet parents will trim away excess fat and discard the fat with bones in the trash. This may be wrapped in tin foil or a plastic bag that a curious pup will sniff out and ultimately ingest. In this case, it can become a medical emergency if there’s a blockage.

Can I Give My Dog a Piece of Ham? How Much Ham Can I Give Them?

Dr. Sinn says it’s fine to give your dog a piece of ham now and then, but make sure you’re limiting their intake. There’s no official guidance on how much you should give them because it really depends on their size, specific calorie needs and what else they’re eating.

In general, you should consider ham equivalent to a rich dog treat and give them only a small piece every once in a while. It should not be a daily occurrence, and you definitely don’t want to overdo it.

If you do feed your dog ham, opt for unprocessed and uncured meat if you can, and make sure the meat is unseasoned and fully cooked.

What Do I Do if My Dog Eats Too Much Ham?

Dr. Sinn recommends a “watch and see” approach. Because ham isn’t toxic, eating too much probably won’t do much more than mess with your dog’s digestive system and cause some short-lived stomach upset.

But you want to be aware and monitor your dog for any signs that something more serious is going on. And if you suspect your dog has gotten into anything indigestible that can ultimately end up in a blockage, like foil wrappers or a plastic bag, you want to be extra vigilant.

Some signs of underlying issues include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy or weakness

If you see any of these, it’s best to check in with your veterinarian ASAP.

FAQs About Ham and Dogs

Here are some more commonly asked questions about giving your dog ham, plus expert advice from Dr. Sinn.


Can I give my dog a piece of ham?

A:Yes, it’s okay to give your dog a small piece of cooked ham here and there, but try not to make a habit of it. While ham isn’t inherently toxic, it also isn’t inherently healthy for them and too much can contribute to obesity and negatively impact your pet’s health.


Can puppies eat ham?

A:Just like adult dogs, puppies can have a small amount of ham, but you want to be extra careful with younger fur babies. While puppies have higher protein and calorie needs than older dogs, too many calories can result in weight and overall growth problems. It’s best to stick to pet food for your puppy, but a small ham treat here and there isn’t too concerning.


Can dogs eat spiral ham?

A:It depends. Spiral and holiday hams may have additives and/or sugars injected into them, so there’s still a concern about preservatives. To add to that, many people use various herbs and seasonings in the preparation of spiral ham. You can give your dog some spiral ham as long as there are no added spices or other flavorings or anything else that’s toxic to dogs on the meat, but it’s best to give them meat that’s as plain as possible.


Can dogs eat ham bones? Can puppies eat ham bones?

A:No, you should never give your dog or puppy a ham bone. Dr. Sinn says there are two concerns here: If the bone is hard enough not to fracture in the digestive system, then it’s likely that it’s hard enough to cause damage to your dog’s teeth.

On the flip side, if a bone is soft enough that it won’t cause oral damage, it can splinter and cause an intestinal perforation or blockage if your dog swallows it.

Some ham bones are also considered a choking hazard, according to Dr. Sinn. Bone-in hams can have round bones and if they’re cut just right, the bone can get hooked around your dog’s lower jaw and require an emergency vet visit.

This applies to both raw ham bones and cooked bones. Both should be discarded safely in the trash and not given to your pooch.


Can dogs eat gammon bones?

A:No, your dog should not eat any kind of bones. They come with more risk than they’re worth, according to Dr. Sinn.


Is ham toxic to dogs?

A:No, ham isn’t toxic to dogs, so you don’t have to worry if your pooch eats a little bit here and there. However, too much ham can contribute to obesity and certain medical conditions, so you want to be mindful of how much you’re letting them eat.


What meats can dogs eat?

A:Turkey and chicken are good options for dogs because they’re lower in calories and a decent source of low-fat, high-quality protein. But the same rules apply here: Make sure the meat is unseasoned and thoroughly cooked before giving it to your dog.
While giving your dog a piece of ham here and there likely won’t cause any harm, it’s not the healthiest treat option. At best, it has the potential to cause some digestive upset and, at worst, it can trigger some inflammatory health conditions. If you want to surprise your dog with a delicious treat, a lean protein such as turkey is a better choice.

The post Can Dogs Eat Ham? Is Ham Toxic to Dogs? appeared first on BeChewy.

Itchy Cat? Here’s Why Your Cat’s Scratching So Much

If your cat won’t stop scratching, you might immediately suspect fleas. While it’s true that these little buggers are one of the most common reasons for an itchy cat, there are several other possible causes of itching—medically referred to as pruritus.

To help you narrow it down, we talked to three vet experts about why your cat might be scratching so much and what you can do about it.

Why Is My Cat Scratching So Much?

Allergies and flea infestations are the two most common causes of itchiness (yes, even in indoor cats). However, there are other likely culprits, too.


Allergies are one of the most likely triggers for itchy skin, according to Dr. Leslie Sinn, DVM, CPDT-KA, ACVB, founder of Behavior Solutions in Ashburn, Virginia. These can be airborne/environmental allergies like pollen, food allergies or contact allergies.

Environmental Allergies

An allergy to an airborne substance, like pollen or dust mites, is called atopy, and this type of reaction is often referred to as atopic dermatitis. It can develop at any age and in any breed.

In simple terms, atopic dermatitis is a result of your cat’s immune system going haywire. An environmental allergen triggers a response, which results in skin problems and itching. Atopic dermatitis can be seasonal or chronic, with no obvious change in symptoms throughout the year.

Food Allergies

A food allergy can manifest in a variety of ways, but itching around the head, neck, ears and face is a classic pattern. Because a food allergy is systemic and can affect your cat’s digestive system, you may also notice other signs, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Straining to go to the bathroom
  • Rashes or sores
  • Discharge from the eyes and/or nose
  • Sneezing or wheezing
  • Coughing

Beef, fish, chicken and dairy are the most common food allergies in cats, and a cat has to be exposed to the allergen at least once to develop an allergy to it.

Contact Allergies

Contact allergies develop when your cat touches or rubs against something they’re allergic to. Typically, these reactions are localized to the spot where the contact occurs. Flea collars, shampoos, topicals and certain types of bedding can cause contact allergies.

Flea (or Other) Infestations

Itchiness and nonstop scratching are telltale signs of a flea infestation.

When a flea bites your cat, flea saliva gets into your cat’s skin. This can trigger an allergic reaction that results in extreme itchiness—a condition called flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). In extra sensitive cats, just one or two flea bites can be enough to cause major discomfort.

Dr. Sinn says cat owners often rule out a flea infestation because they don’t see bugs on their cat. But, she notes, fleas actually spend very little time on the animal; they typically bite and then jump off.

If you get to the point where you actually see bugs on your cat, you have a major infestation.

Even if you don’t see the fleas, they often leave behind flea eggs, which look like little white dots about the size of a grain of salt—or flea dirt, black specks that are a mixture of blood and flea waste. You often see signs of fleas if you brush your cat with a flea comb.

The most commonly affected areas where fleas affect cats are the head, neck, back, base of the tail, and hind legs. If you suspect fleas, look in these areas first to see if you can spot any bugs or insect bites. If you do, make an appointment with your vet to get flea treatment. 

It’s also possible your cat has a lice infestation (officially known as pediculosis) or scabies mites, but Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM, cat expert and founder of Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York City, says this is relatively uncommon in otherwise healthy cats. If your cat has an immunosuppressive disorder, like feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection, these might be more likely causes.


Ringworm, a fungal infection, is the most common infectious skin disease in cats, according to Dr. Plotnick. It can affect cats of any age, sex or breed, but young cats, senior cats and longhaired breeds are affected more often.

In addition to scratching and overgrooming, you may notice the following symptoms if your cat has ringworm:

  • Crusty skin
  • Circular areas of hair loss
  • Inflamed or irritated skin
  • Dandruff
  • Changes in fur or skin color

Unlike some other causes of constant itching, ringworm is more easily diagnosed by doing a fungal culture.

Parasitic and bacterial infections of the skin are also possible infectious causes.

Medication Side Effects

In some cases, itching can be a medication side effect. Methimazole (brand name Tapazole or Felimazole), for example, may cause itching. Many cats develop hyperthyroidism as they get older, and methimazole is a common part of treatment, Dr. Plotnick says.

Typically, if the medication causes itching, it will mostly be concentrated around the head and face.

Stress or Boredom

Excessive scratching doesn’t always have a physical cause. If everything checks out with your cat’s health, this behavior may point to stress, anxiety or boredom. More often, you’ll see overgrooming (i.e., excessive licking); and stressed or bored cats may chew or scratch more than relaxed, content cats.

This is more likely in indoor cats because they don’t get as much stimulation as outdoor kitties.

When To Go to the Veterinarian about Cat Scratching

When your cat excessively scratches for long periods of time, their skin can become damaged and even infected. Consult a veterinarian if your cat is scratching for more than three consecutive days.

If the scratching is accompanied by other signs like visible fleas, take them to a vet as soon as you notice something is off.

How Vets Diagnose the Cause of an Itchy Cat

Diagnosing the cause of your cat’s itching typically begins with a thorough physical examination, after which your vet may recommend additional tests such as skin scrapings, blood tests or allergy testing to pinpoint the underlying cause.

Dr. Plotnick says it’s best to visit a veterinary dermatologist if you suspect atopy, or airborne allergies. The dermatologist will perform an intradermal skin test, injecting small amounts of allergens into the skin and charting the skin reaction.

Once they’ve found the cause, your vet will recommend a treatment plan based on the results of the testing.

Treatment for Cat Itchy Skin

Treatment options will vary depending on the root cause.

If Itching is Caused By Allergies…

If allergies are the main issue, your vet may recommend antihistamines or steroids to soothe the itching and make your cat more comfortable, says Dr. Bradley Krohn, DVM, a veterinarian with mobile veterinary service The Vets, based in Portland, Oregon.

If the itching is caused by food allergies, your cat will likely have to make dietary changes. The exact changes depend on what your cat is allergic to, but your vet may recommend a hypoallergenic cat food or a novel protein diet as a good place to start while you narrow down the right formula for your cat’s needs.

Dr. Sinn says hypoallergenic food should come from a vet’s prescription, if possible. While there are some hypoallergenic food options available without a prescription, cross contamination can be a major issue if the food manufacturer isn’t diligent about sterilizing equipment or keeping proteins separate.

An oral Cyclosporine solution may be recommended for cats who have chronic atopic dermatitis. Cyclosporine is an immunosuppressant that calms immune system overreactivity to reduce your cat’s itchiness and make them more comfortable. You will need a prescription for this one, as well as dosing recommendations from your vet.

If Itching Is Caused By Infections or Infestations…

Infections and infestations will be treated with medication.

Parasitic infestations will often require anti-parasitic medications, while bacterial skin infections may need to be treated with antibiotics. Ringworm is treated with an antifungal.

If Itching Is Caused By Fleas…

If fleas are the culprit, the first step will be to use a fast-acting oral flea treatment, like Capstar, to kill all the fleas. From there, your vet will likely recommend a preventative to make a recurrence less likely.

If environmental reactions or seasonal allergies are uncovered, your vet may recommend an injectable anti-allergy medication to control the itching and related symptoms.

No matter the cause, it’s crucial to follow your vet’s guidance regarding medications and treatment for best results.

How Can I Soothe My Cat’s Itchy Skin?

At-home remedies for itchy skin won’t replace professional treatment, but there are immediate things you can do to try and make your cat feel better in the short term.

It’s always best to talk to your veterinarian about the itch-relief products you can use on your cat, but here are some general recommendations.

Regular Grooming

Brushing your cat can help remove irritants and reduce itching. It also removes dead hair and debris. Dr. Sinn says brushing is a good way to keep tabs on your cat’s coat and body condition so you always have an idea of what’s going on.

A warm bath

If your cat will allow it, give them a warm bath with a hypoallergenic or medicated shampoo. The warm water can help soothe the skin, while the shampoo can wash away potential allergens that may be the cause of itching.

Dr. Sinn recommends bathing your cat with a humidifying shampoo that contains a soothing ingredient, like aloe. She says this calms the skin, removes any crust and debris and can hopefully make the cat a little more comfortable.

Avoid perfumed shampoos or anything your cat can ingest that may be toxic. In other words, get a fragrance-free shampoo that’s effectively tested for safety on cats. Try the Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Shampoo—or if your cat won’t tolerate water, the Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath.

Topical shampoos and creams

These contain active ingredients that can reduce inflammation and soothe the skin. Make sure you’re using shampoos or creams that are proven safe for cats.

Some options include the Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Itch Relief Spray and/or the topical Ventinque Labs Dermabliss Hydrocortisone, which are both cost-effective options that can provide some relief. Both products contain hydrocortisone, a steroid cream widely known for countering itchiness and reducing rashes, Dr. Krohn says.

Vacuum often

If your cat is allergic to dust mites or something environmental, vacuuming dust and dander can help decrease exposure.

Supplement with fatty acids

An omega-3 fatty acid supplement, like Vetoquinol Triglyceride OMEGA, can act as a low-level anti-inflammatory agent that reduces discomfort and itching.

Flea prevention

This won’t provide immediate relief, but protecting your cats from fleas and maintaining a clean, flea-free environment at home is essential to minimizing additional irritants.

To catch an infestation early,  brush cats regularly with a flea comb.

While itch-relief products can make your cat more comfortable in the short term, it’s important to uncover—and treat—the underlying cause of itchiness for lasting relief. In most cases, you’re probably dealing with fleas or allergies; Sinn says the location of the itching can give you clues. Ultimately, you’ll need to visit your vet for a proper diagnosis.
Expert input provided by Dr. Leslie Sinn, DVM, CPDT-KA, ACVB, founder of Behavior Solutions in Ashburn, Virginia; Dr. Bradley Krohn, DVM, a veterinarian with mobile veterinary service The Vets, based in in Portland, Oregon; and Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM, cat expert and founder of Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York City.

The post Itchy Cat? Here’s Why Your Cat’s Scratching So Much appeared first on BeChewy.

December Calendar: 31 Festive Ways to Spend the Holidays With Your Pet

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, some combination of the three, or simply love the magical feeling in the air as the year draws to a close, there’s no doubt that having your pet by your side makes it all that much more special. So, follow along with our printable December calendar of ways to fill this season with fun festivities. Oh, and don’t forget to send your pet’s letter to Chewy Claus!

Get Your December Calendar

Download a PDF file of our free printable calendar below.

31 Things to Do With Your Pet This December

December 1

The holiday season is in full swing! Find out how pet parents like you are spending the holidays this year.

December 2

Use these tips to take the perfect holiday photo for the ‘gram.

December 3

Make pet-friendly holiday plans for the whole month with our list of ways to celebrate.

December 4

Don’t forget to pick up some presents to put under the tree for your pup

December 5

…and your cat too, of course!

December 6

Outfit your furry friend in a cute new holiday sweater.

December 7

Happy Hanukkah! Get your dog in on the fun with these Hanukkah gifts.

December 8

Make a festive Advent calendar for your pet.

December 9

Need more gift inspo? Find out what our editors are loving this season.

December 10

Bring the outdoors in with our guide to pet-safe holiday plants.

December 11

Some holiday decor can be dangerous to pets. Here’s how to get festive without sacrificing their safety.

December 12

For a fun DIY project, recycle your Chewy box into festive tree ornaments.

December 13

Take your pup to a dog-friendly holiday light show.

December 14

December 15

Snuggle up for a holiday movie marathon with your bestie.

December 16

Let your cat “help” with holiday traditions like wrapping gifts and baking treats.

December 17

No toppled Christmas trees this year! Make sure your tree is properly cat-proofed

December 18

…and dog-proofed, too. (You know your pup would love to chew those lights.)

December 19

Traveling for the holidays? Be prepared with our guide to flying with pets.

December 20

Celebrate the holidays Martha Stewart style! Bake a batch of her holiday dog biscuits.

December 21

Don’t forget to stuff your cat’s stocking!

December 22

In advance of your big holiday meal, brush up on foods that are toxic to dogs.

December 23

Decorate your front door with a fresh foraged wreath.

December 24

Read this heartwarming holiday bedtime story to your pet on Christmas Eve.

December 25

December 26

Did you get a new puppy for Christmas? Pick the perfect name from this list.

December 27

The weather outside may be frightful, but your dog still needs a walk. Here’s how to deal.

December 28

Make a New Year’s Resolution for your pet based on their zodiac sign.

December 29

In advance of New Year’s Even fireworks, treat your cat to this calming cocktail.

December 30

Take measures to keep your pets safe during New Year’s Eve fireworks.

December 31

Reminisce about your favorite parts of 2023 with our annual guide to the Year in Pets.

Of course, you don’t have to do everything on our monthly calendar. (Life gets busy, we know!) If you have time for just a few special moments with your pet this month, add these adventures to your to-do list:

And don’t forget to celebrate these December holidays!

The fun doesn’t stop here—we’ll be back next month with more ways to make the most of your time with your pet. Looking for more fun things to do in the month of December? We’ve got you covered:

The post December Calendar: 31 Festive Ways to Spend the Holidays With Your Pet appeared first on BeChewy.

Dog Zodiac Signs: What Their Sign Says About Them, 2024 Horoscopes and More

You probably know your own zodiac sign, but do you know your dog’s zodiac sign? Dog astrology signs can provide insights into what makes your pet tick, and knowing more about your dog’s personality can help you better care for them.

Since the beginning of time, people have been staring at the stars and planets in the sky trying to figure out their place in the cosmos. By examining the positions of the planets at the time of an individual’s birth, astrologers can learn a great deal about a person or pet, such as their character and potential as well as their limitations and how to resolve them. Astrology can also give us insight into current issues, the timing of events and how compatible we are with the important people—or pets—in our lives.

Is your dog an attention-loving Leo, rebel Aquarius or energetic Aries? Read on to learn about the dog zodiac signs, what your dog’s astrology sign says about them and their 2024 horoscope provided by celebrity astrologer Lisa Stardust.

Aries (March 21-April 19)



Aries is the first sign of the zodiac so it’s no surprise that these pets are born leaders. Male or female, these alphas love action and excitement. They are ambitious, courageous, thrive on being the boss and being first. Mars ruled canines are independent, driven and determined. They may insist on walking you rather than the other way around. They have a mind of their own and don’t necessarily come when they’re called. On the plus side, they have big hearts and a loving spirit that is irresistible and contagious.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Sagittarius
  • Leo
  • Gemini

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Pisces
  • Cancer
  • Libra


  • Tons of energy
  • Love to exercise and be outdoors
  • Fun personality


  • Loves to exercise—even when you don’t
  • Competitive with other dogs
  • Possessive of their owners

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“Aries pups are easy to love through their playfulness and charm. Through all of this, they have a disobedient side and can push their parents’ buttons! 2024 can bring a new sense of orderliness to Aries pooches if parents are aware of their energy and guide them in helpful ways.” — Lisa Stardust

Your Aries Dog Will Love:

Taurus (April 20-May 20)



You can sum Taurus up in one word: cozy! Born in the spring when the ground is lush and warmed by the sun, they’re sensual, earthy and natural. They are also practical, dependable and hard working with a deep love of nature and beauty. Like their human counterparts, Taurus canines can be stubborn and hate change. Do not move their water or food bowl. They also don’t like exercise but need it; make sure they have a regular routine. They thrive on creature comforts met in a physical environment that is quiet and safe. They have a loving disposition and are extremely loyal.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Cancer
  • Capricorn
  • Pisces

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Aries
  • Leo
  • Aquarius


  • Affectionate
  • Dependable
  • Loves to snuggle


  • Can be lazy
  • Immovable at times
  • Lives to eat

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“These pups crave security and are generally very focused. In 2024, Taurus dogs will stay right by their parents’ side and be hyper-aware of protecting them. Taurus dogs usually enjoy lounging in the sun and have a deep love for nature.” — Lisa Stardust

Your Taurus Dog Will Love:

Gemini (May 21-June 20)



Ruled by mental Mercury, the Gemini sign is associated with communication, information, speaking and media. Gemini dogs are usually vocal. They are always busy and on the move, so they have a lot to bark about. Like their human counterparts, Gemini canines are super smart and highly curious, which can lead to both fun and mischief. Their personality can change from calm to crazy at the drop of a biscuit. But they have a comic quality that is thoroughly charming and will keep you entertained—and on your toes.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Aries
  • Aquarius
  • Libra

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Cancer
  • Virgo
  • Pisces


  • Curious
  • Smart
  • Loves to play


  • Finicky eater
  • Hates routines
  • Chases cats

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“Gemini pooches love playtime and find stimulation through toys and outdoor activities. They are very friendly and great learners. 2024 is a great year for them to spend time with other dogs and be more in tune with their social butterfly trait.” — Lisa Stardust

Your Gemini Dog Will Love:

Cancer (June 21-July 22)



Cancer is a water sign, motivated by emotion rather than logic, which makes them sensitive, compassionate and intuitive. Born when the sun is highest, they possess a quiet but intrinsic power and move at their own speed. Cancer canines love their naps and snacks. Because they’re not a fan of exercising, several short walks are better than long hikes. Loud noises are upsetting; they thrive best in safe, cozy surroundings with people they love. Born nurturers, they make good companions to other pets. Best of all, they’re deeply devoted and protective of their human parents.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Taurus
  • Virgo
  • Pisces

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Aries
  • Sagittarius
  • Gemini


  • Sweet disposition
  • Make great emotional support pets
  • Affectionate


  • Can put on weight
  • Afraid of thunderstorms
  • Doesn’t travel well

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“You can’t go wrong with a cancer pooch. This dog is nurturing and intuitiveit may seem like they can read your mind. They are wonderful healers and are extremely dedicated. In 2024, they are going to want to help others around them as much as canine possible!” — Lisa Stardust

Your Cancer Dog Will Love:

Leo (July 23-August 22)



Leo is the sign of the king, queen, performer and the lion. They are proud beings who are born to rule, born to shine and love being the center of attention. Naturally charismatic, they exude warmth, vitality and power. Leo canines don’t like competition; they prefer being a single dog in a household that worships them and caters to their every need. They also adore being groomed and pampered and look forward to a trip to the doggy spa. Whether out on a hike or strolling through downtown, these celebrity pups will make you look like a star.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Libra
  • Gemini
  • Sagittarius

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Taurus
  • Scorpio
  • Aquarius


  • Demonstrative
  • Entertaining
  • Good health


  • Requires lots of attention
  • Acts like royalty
  • Doesn’t like sharing the spotlight

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“A very strong and willful pooch, the Leos of the dog world can be a little vain and domineering, which leads to a struggle for their pet parents. 2024 can bring some liveliness to them as they get along well with other pooches and can benefit from playtime with their mates.” — Lisa Stardust

Your Leo Dog Will Love:

Virgo (August 23-September 22)



Virgos get a bad rap. They are said to be critical, obsessive and overly analytical. The truth is they care a great deal and want things to be perfect. They are extremely dedicated and hard-working, with high ideals, great integrity and a love of service. Like Gemini, they are ruled by mind planet Mercury so Virgo pups know how to communicate, with their bark, actions or a serious look. They do best with order and routines: same food, same time of day. They also love being clean and groomed. They make great babysitters for kids and pups alike.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Taurus
  • Capricorn
  • Scorpio

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Gemini
  • Sagittarius
  • Pisces


  • Clean
  • Takes direction well
  • Quick learners


  • Picky eater
  • Bossy
  • Doesn’t like to share toys

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“One of the most well-behaved dog signs, Virgo pups are the best for companionship. They are loyal and determined but also analytical and relaxed. 2024 will bring a sense of freedom for these pooches to be with themselves and spend time lounging with their best buddies!” — Lisa Stardust

Your Virgo Dog Will Love:

Libra (September 23-October 22)



Ruled by romantic Venus, Libra is the sign of love and marriage. Their goal is to create harmony, beauty and tranquility, so it’s no surprise this sign is associated with the artist, lover and the diplomate. They are known for their charm and have the gift of sensing what others need. Venus-ruled canines have appealing personalities and are deeply attached to other pets and humans. They prefer company rather than being alone and often like to follow their humans around. They’re uncomfortable in a stressful or chaotic environment and value peace and quiet over action and adventure.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Leo
  • Gemini
  • Aquarius

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Aries
  • Capricorn
  • Scorpio


  • Calming presence
  • Social
  • Exceptionally good looking


  • Overly attached
  • Easily frightened
  • Doesn’t like to be alone

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“Libra pups make friends easily and are very gentle. They definitely love to be out and about and hate being left alone. Make sure to give this pup some stimulation in 2024 by taking them with you to the store or on a long walk!” — Lisa Stardust

Your Libra Dog Will Love:

Scorpio (October 23-November 21)



Scorpio is a much-misunderstood sign. They’re known for being sexy and mysterious—which is often true, but it’s really about intensity with this sign. Scorpios know that life is tenuous and live more passionately as a result. They are the shamans and psychologists of the zodiac, exploring deep subjects, living on the edge. Like Scorpio humans, Scorpio canines are private, make serious eye contact and seem to be able to read your thoughts. They love being loyal to one person. It takes them a while to build trust, but when they do, you have a friend and ally for life.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Cancer
  • Capricorn
  • Pisces

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Taurus
  • Gemini
  • Aquarius


  • Independent
  • Devoted
  • Magnetic personality


  • Can be anti-social
  • Doesn’t forgive easily
  • Hides in places where you can’t find them

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“The most excitable and energetic of the signs, Scorpio pups will very much want playtime in 2024. But be aware of their cold shoulder naturethey are usually in tune with their parent but will always strive to protect them no matter what mood they are in.” — Lisa Stardust

Your Scorpio Dog Will Love:

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)



Sagittarius is the symbol of the traveler, the philosopher and the student. They may not know the meaning of life, but they know life has a meaning and are on a quest to find it. For them, life is a daring adventure. They are known for their big dreams, big personalities and a love of travel. Sagittarius canines need room to roam and can feel anxious when they’re forced to stay indoors. They are happiest being outside as much as possible. They have colorful and comical personalities and are friendly (both with people and pets), and make superb traveling companions.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Aries
  • Leo
  • Aquarius

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Virgo
  • Capricorn
  • Pisces


  • Healthy
  • Great on road trips
  • Vivacious personality


  • Love to wander off alone
  • Easily bored
  • Impulsive

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“The most engaging of the dogs, Sagittarius pups love being social and make friends easily. You can’t catch them having a shy moment! 2024 will bring new adventures and discoveries for this highly intellectual and flexible pooch.” — Lisa Stardust

Your Sagittarius Dog Will Love:

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)



Capricorns are associated with responsibility, authority and power. Ruled by serious Saturn, this sign is known for its drive, determination and strong work ethic. Their symbol is the mountain goat; they have ambitious goals and are not afraid to work hard to climb to the top. Cap pooches aren’t lazy. In fact, they come alive when they have an opportunity to learn a new task or skill. They follow orders and love to complete their duties. They’re great guard dogs and babysitters; they’ll even keep other pets and family members in line.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Taurus
  • Virgo
  • Scorpio

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Aries
  • Gemini
  • Sagittarius


  • Steady personality
  • Predictable
  • Protective


  • Bored when not busy
  • Can be pushy
  • Moves slowly

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“These pooches feel deeply and as a result bond with a singular person. They love watching movies and lounging with their parent. Lots of treats are in Gemini pups forecast for 2024 for their patient and wise behavior.” — Lisa Stardust

Your Capricorn Dog Will Love:

Aquarius (January 20-February 18)



Aquarius is the sign of the rebel and the non-conformist. These individuals are smart as a whip, stubborn, rational and eccentric. Aquarius people and pets alike march to their own beat and make their own rules. Governed by eccentric Uranus, they can be unpredictable at times. They love change and hate being bored. Aquarian canines are always ready for a new toy, trick or getaway. They may not be warm and cuddly, but they’re extremely social and outgoing with people and other pets. In fact, no one makes a better or more loyal friend than these zany canines.

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Gemini
  • Libra
  • Sagittarius

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Taurus
  • Cancer
  • Scorpio


  • Outgoing
  • Highly intelligent
  • Loves new things and people


  • Lots of nervous energy
  • Doesn’t always obey orders
  • Needs stimulation

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“Curious and smart, these dogs have a mind of their own! They may seem cold to those who don’t know them well, but they can definitely warm up. In 2024, you may find them spending time playing outdoors or in a deep sleep on the couchthere’s no in-between!” — Lisa Stardust

Your Aquarius Dog Will Love:

Pisces (February 19-March 20)



Ruled by inspirational Neptune, Pisces governs the invisible and the unseen world of inspiration and imagination. These are the dreamers, mystics and musicians of the zodiac. Deeply sensitive and highly intuitive, they need space and quiet. Pisces canines are gentle souls—kind and caring to a fault. They love being close to their humans, sometimes even following them around and sleeping under the covers. They also sense your moods which is why they make excellent therapy dogs. Dozing in a sunny spot with some easy listening music is their happy place. (See our Zen Dog Spotify playlist.)

Most Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Taurus
  • Cancer
  • Capricorn

Least Compatible Zodiac Signs

  • Aries
  • Gemini
  • Sagittarius


  • Loving disposition
  • Quiet
  • Good with other pets


  • Highly sensitive
  • Overly attached
  • Can be lethargic

✨ 2024 Horoscope ✨

“Affectionate and insightful is the Pisces pup! They love cuddling and are usually known to be therapy dogs. 2024 will bring some extra rejuvenation and calmness for this all-around warm and gentle dog.

Your Pisces Dog Will Love:

Next, find out which health and wellness habit best suits your pup based on their zodiac sign.
Expert input provided by NYC-based astrologer, tarot card reader, energy healer and two-time best- selling author Lisa Stardust. 

The post Dog Zodiac Signs: What Their Sign Says About Them, 2024 Horoscopes and More appeared first on BeChewy.

10 Dog War Movies About Military Canines

You know those films that just tug at your heartstrings? Dog war movies definitely fit that bill. Whatever the canine’s character—trained service animal, therapy dog or civilian’s best friend—dog war movies honor all that these incredible animals do for us humans.

So, on your next night in, why not curl up with your furry best friend to watch a few of the top dog war movies? You’ll probably want to grab a chew toy for them and some popcorn for you—and maybe some tissues, just in case. Here are 10 of the best.

The 10 Best Dog War Movies

1“War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend”

This movie will make a dog lover out of the hardest of hearts. This gut-wrenching HBO documentary—executive-produced by Channing Tatum, by the way—speaks to the heart and soul of the bonds between soldiers and their military canines. You’ll watch heroic stories unfold about war dogs and their handlers who have served in the United States military in places like Afghanistan and Iraq—including one veteran who credits his dog with saving his life.

The film highlights the immense roles these highly trained military working dogs play in various military operations, including detecting explosives, searching for survivors and providing emotional support to soldiers in the most challenging and dangerous situations—sometimes even giving their lives to do so.

You’ll get an inside look at the rigorous training that these American heros—both the dogs and their human partners—undergo before deployment, and come away with a better understanding of the sacrifices and contributions canine soldiers often make.


Watching “Max,” you get a glimpse at what returning to civilian life can look like for some military animals or dogs who have been through war trauma. Max is a Belgian Malinois whose handler, U.S. Marine Kyle Wincott, was killed in action. After Max returns home to live with the fallen soldier’s family, he shows signs of anxiety, fear and sadness, which an expert attributes to post-war PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

However, Kyle’s younger brother, Justin, quickly forms a bond with Max, only to find out some unsettling news about his brother’s death. Together the pair dig into the controversy, survive some harrowing situations and protect each other and their family every step of the way.

This dog war movie is both heartwarming and action-packed until the very end. Through it all, the lessons of patience, healing and redemption are front and center.


You’ll find yourself laughing, crying and hugging your own dog a little tighter while watching “Dog,” starring Channing Tatum. The actor plays Jackson Briggs, an Army Ranger who returns from deployment struggling to adjust to civilian life. After being asked to help bring Lulu, a war dog partner of a fallen fellow soldier and friend, to the funeral, he begrudgingly accepts and embarks on a wild road trip.

Lulu, who has not taken well to anyone since her soldier partner’s passing, is not exactly well-behaved or cuddly to Briggs at first. But as their journey progresses, both human and canine begin to better understand each other and lower their guards.

Together Briggs and Lulu find healing, support and a renewed sense of purpose that makes for an uplifting, adventurous and satisfying film.

4“Megan Leavey”

Kate Mara stars as corporal Megan Leavey in this drama film based on the true story of a U.S. Marine by the same name and her military dog, Rex. During deployment, the pair is focused on explosive detection, which Rex excels at. Their partnership saves lives and earns them recognition for their courage and dedication, but when they are both injured during active duty, sadly, they are separated.

The rest of this dog war movie chronicles Leavey’s fight to get Rex officially retired from service as she tries to make a life for herself back at home. As a viewer, you get a taste for the potential struggles and red tape involved in declassifying a military dog, whom some may view more as a tool for war than a sentient being and loyal companion.

All in all, the movie is an emotional rollercoaster that highlights the depth of the connection between a military handler and her service dog. By the end of it, you’ll totally understand just how difficult it would be to live without a Rex-like dog in your life after all you’d been through together.

5“Finding Rin Tin Tin”

Rin Tin Tin was a real German Shepherd who became a Hollywood star after being rescued by an American soldier during World War I. But you don’t have to be familiar with the origins of this famous canine to enjoy the entertaining, family-friendly dog war movie, “Finding Rin Tin Tin,” which came out in 2007.

The movie is an adaptation of the dog’s famous rescue and rise to fame, so you’ll watch as soldier Lee Duncan discovers the dog, whom he nicknames Rinty in the film, and takes him along during his deployment. What unfolds is a lighthearted dog war movie that includes both heroic moments and mischief from Rinty while on base.

While this particular four-legged actor is obviously not the original Rin Tin Tin, it’s easy to see that these stately, intelligent and loyal dogs have serious star quality.

6“My Dog Skip”

If you’re interested in a dog war movie that’s less about watching actual battles and more about what life is like during times of war, then “My Dog Skip” is for you. The film is set in the 1940s during WWII and centers on a young boy named Willie. Willie’s father has come back from the Spanish Civil War with the loss of a leg, and a neighbor returns from WWII disgraced. The entire community is feeling the ripple effects of the conflict of this unique era.

That makes the introduction of Skip, a smart and talented Terrier, as the family’s pet and Willie’s new best friend and supporter, all the more uplifting. Skip takes loyal companionship to the next level, helping Willie face social anxieties (and bullies) as he navigates growing up—not easy, no matter what decade you’re living in.

This dog movie is a coming-of-age story not just for Willie as a young kid, but also a town trying to find its footing during war times. You’ll feel every high and low point Willie and Skip go through together, but you’ll end the film feeling hopeful and proud of everyone’s resilience.

7“Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog”

The story of Kaleb, a German Shepard born and raised by a Jewish family, is at times difficult to watch, but it’s a story worth watching. Understanding the story of Kaleb and his companion, Joshua, the son of the family, means also better understanding the plight of the Jewish community during World War II.

When anti-semitic rules, such as stripping Jews of the right to have pets, are enforced, Kaleb is instead trained as a military dog for an SS officer, which now makes him the opposition. Like a gut punch, you watch as young Joshua meets his old friend Kaleb once again at a Nazi concentration camp. It’s immediately clear that Kaleb recognizes Joshua and has never forgotten him.

The rest of the film follows the journey of both man and his best friend and their struggle and hopes to reunite. The poignant film explores what it really means to be loyal, and the enduring bond between humans and our pets, even in the face of extreme adversity.

8“To Be of Service”

This heartwarming documentary follows military veterans and their service dogs. The stories you’ll watch highlight how many service men and women have struggled to find a treatment plan for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) following their time in active duty. Medication sometimes isn’t enough or leaves them feeling fatigued and unlike themselves. But everything changes when they are paired with a service dog.

No matter what these veterans are dealing with from their past and present, you can see just how transformative these service dogs have been for their lives and their recovery. The movie also addresses the broader issues surrounding veterans’ access to service dogs—who gets them and why—and the efforts to raise awareness and funding for this vital form of therapy.

If you’ve watched other dog war movies on this list and have seen how critical dogs can be on the battlefield, you’ll be in awe of just how equally important they can be after the physical scars of war have long been healed.

9“Army Dog”

“Army Dog” is another family-friendly film, following Army sergeant Tom Holloway and his dog Conner, who return to the U.S. after a highly successful mission and aim to settle back into family life. Holloway’s daughter isn’t immediately excited to share her dad’s attention with someone on all fours, as she’s missed her father and is struggling to find her place in his post-war life.

As the story unfolds, Holloway brings his daughter and Connor on a camping trip that goes awry. He gets badly injured and, now, it’s up to Connor and his daughter to work together to find help for him. You might be able to guess that Connor wins Holloway’s daughter over during their high-stakes adventure.

10“Dog Jack”

This dog war film is set during the American Civil War and follows the harrowing story of Benjamin Gardner, an enslaved man who escapes and eventually joins the Union Army to secure his freedom alongside his loyal dog, who, you guessed it, is named Jack.

Together they head off to war, where in the midst of battle, the young man meets the slave owner from whom he escaped. The film is based on a book by the same name, which is based on a real-life story of a four-legged mascot of sorts during the Civil War. The movie takes you back in time to a struggling and divided America and makes you thankful for the progress made and determined to push for the progress left to reach.

Looking for more dog movie inspo? Check out our list of the 50 best Hollywood dogs.

The post 10 Dog War Movies About Military Canines appeared first on BeChewy.

How to Train a Dog Not to Run Away

Of all your responsibilities as a dog parent, keeping your pup safely nearby and out of harm’s way is a top priority. This includes training your dog not to run away, and all the other commands—like sit and stay—that can help ensure they stay put in everyday situations. It also means understanding some common triggers that may cause them to run away—like loud noises or thunderstorms—and securing your home if your dog has escape artist tendencies.

Ahead, we’re teaching you how to train a dog not to run away; offering guidance on how to train a dog to be off leash; and covering some common reasons dogs run away—and the best thing you can do if this does happen. Our guidance applies whether you’ve got a new puppy or a fully-grown dog, so keep reading.

How to Train a Dog Not to Run Away: A Step-by-Step Guide

Teaching your dog to not run away involves teaching them specific, small cues that ensure they remain by your side. This process takes time, but the effort is well worth it.

“Dogs thrive on consistency and structure,” says dog trainer Sylvia Wilson, co-founder and certified trainer with Bark Busters International. “A dog well-bonded to its owner or family unit is less likely to escape when its needs are met. Understanding your dog’s canine nature and providing proper education through training and routine is key.”

Here are some steps you can take to teach your dog to not run away.

1Teach Basic Cues Like Stay, Sit, and Heel.

Simple obedience training is step one in keeping your dog safe and preventing them from running away. We’ve covered all of the essential commands in our comprehensive basic dog obedience guide.

2Prioritize Recall Training

Teaching your pooch how to come back to you when their name is called is another element of their basic obedience education. The cue for this is “come.”

Effective recall training is essential for your dog’s safety since it allows you to call them away from potentially dangerous situations, off-leash areas, or simply to have them return to you during off-leash walks or outings. Here’s how to teach a dog to come in just five steps.

Practice all the above cues both at home and in areas where there’s some distraction, so it can better prepare your pup for real-world scenarios when they’ll need to follow your orders.

3Provide Positive Reinforcement

When your dog obeys your cues, make sure to provide positive reinforcement. This involves lots of vocal praise, yummy treats, and loving affection. Make sure to do this at home and in public. You want to make sure they associate their good behavior with being rewarded.

4Remain Consistent and Patient

Preventing pups from running away is a lifelong practice. As such, dog parents must remain consistent in their cues and rewards, and practice patience at all times.

“Consistency allows dogs to settle into predictable behavior patterns,” Wilson says. “By being reliable leaders, dog owners can teach their pups that running away isn’t acceptable, and that home, or nearby their owners, is where they belong.”


Peggy Cheung/Getty

How to Train a Dog to Be Off Leash

Once dogs have mastered basic obedience commands and have reliable recall—meaning you trust they’ll listen to you no matter what and in any situation—you can consider taking them off leash. This provides them with more freedom to run and roam.

1Practice “Come” Indoors or In a Fenced Yard

The first place to practice off leash is in a safe, calm and quiet environment that you can control. Your home or a fenced yard is best. With your dog off leash, practice the “come” cue with an excited and happy tone of voice. You can also practice cues like sit and stay while they’re off leash in this safe environment.

2Make Coming Back a Joy

Make sure to provide positive reinforcement when your dog obeys any command while off leash. Give them delicious treats, lots of affection, and positive words. This creates a joyful experience for your dog when they come back to you or follow your cues.

3 Use a Long Leash in Public Settings

Once your dog has reliable recall in a fenced yard, you can graduate to a new setting. This might look like a nearby park or fenced dog park. Here, keep your pup on a long leash (20-30 feet) and continue practicing your commands. This provides safety and control while allowing your dog more freedom.

4Move Off-Leash

If your dog develops reliable recall, you can move to an off-leash situation. There may be hiccups along the way, but always practice patience; remember to use positive reinforcement; and never scold or punish your pup.

Important note: Some dogs simply don’t do well off leash. These tend to be high-energy pups; dogs with an innate sense for hunting and herding; and dogs who are more fearful than others. If your dog seems more comfortable on leash, or they cannot reliably come when called, it’s best to keep them leashed.

Why Do Dogs Run Away?

Dogs run away for all kinds of reasons, ranging from pure obliviousness and utter curiosity—they may not understand the dangers of the world and have a desire to roam and explore—to fear or feeling triggered to run in order to find safety. There are other common reasons, too. Let’s explore.

They’re Trying to Find a Mating Partner

Both male and female dogs can experience an intense desire to find a mating partner, and few things can keep them from tackling that mission, Wilson says. This is particularly true—and most common—in pets who haven’t been spayed or neutered.

In unspayed female dogs, hormonal changes occur when they go into heat, which can lead to an uptick in sexual behaviors and receptivity to mating. Unneutered male dogs, on the other hand, tend to exhibit more persistent sexual behaviors, including mounting and seeking out females in heat. Wilson says that this is one of many reasons why it’s so important to spay or neuter your pets.

They’re Naturally Explorative

Some dogs are just innate explorers and want to see everything the world has to offer. So if they get a rare chance to run out the front door or dig their way out of a yard? They might just seize the moment! Dogs who fall into this category tend to exhibit the following tendencies:

  • High-energy pups, like Border Collies, Huskies, and Pointers, may have a strong desire to explore and may try to escape, particularly if they’re desperate for some physical and mental exercise.
  • Dogs who were bred to have hunting and herding instincts, including Beagles, Australian Shepherds, and Greyhounds, can experience a strong urge to chase after prey or control their environment.
  • Super independent dogs, like some Basenjis and Afghan Hounds, may feel less needy or not as attached to their owners, which can make them more prone to wandering off on their own.
  • Many dogs thrive best in dog communities, and may be prone to running away, especially if they’re feeling isolated or lonely.
  • Breeds known for their curiosity, such as Terriers and German Shepherds, might be more likely to explore their surroundings, and escape to investigate interesting scents or sights.

It’s important to remember, however, that every dog is unique, and breed is not a determining factor in a dog’s behavior.

They’re Dealing With Separation Anxiety

Though it may sound counterintuitive, Wilson says another reason dogs run away is because they’re experiencing an intense bout of separation anxiety.

“If they are not properly trained or conditioned to cope with being left alone, they may panic when the dog owner leaves,” Wilson says. “And on the flip side, never separating from your dog—even when at home—can cause the dog to bark and try to flee when finally left alone.”

When your dog is alone—even if for a short period—they may do everything in their might to try to escape. In their mind, running away accomplishes a handful of things: First, they’re seeking comfort and security, especially if they’re feeling trapped or confined, and need relief from their overwhelming emotions. Running away may also let them explore and distract themselves from their feelings—and in some cases, they may be so stressed that they aren’t thinking clearly.

They’re Scared

Even dogs who are not usually prone to running away may experience a desire to bolt when facing a scary trigger that tells their brains to flee for safety—for instance, a loud thunderstorm full of cracks and booms.

Fireworks, gunshots and even construction sounds can do the same. ​​These sounds “can trigger a flight-or-fight response in some dogs,” Wilson says. “This instinctive reaction can lead to panicking dogs crashing through doors or windows trying to get away from the scary sounds.”

When out and about, small triggers such as an unfamiliar object—like an aggressive or rambunctious dog, an umbrella opening, or even a weird-moving balloon—can spook your pup and trigger them to dash.

They’re Bored or Lonely

All dogs benefit from routine physical exercise, mental stimulation and loving interactions with their parent. This is true of both low-energy pups and high-energy doggos. When they don’t get enough of these things, it can trigger behavior-related issues, with running away being a potential result.

To make sure your dog is getting the appropriate amount of mental and physical exercise, take them on long walks; spend time at the dog park; engage in training sessions to teach them new tricks; and introduce fun toys into your home.

What to Do If Your Dog Runs Away

If your dog runs away, do not panic. We know it’s a scary feeling—one that elicits a flurry of fears and what ifs in your mind—but safe reunification is very likely.

If Your Dog Runs Away When You’re With Them

If you’re with your pup when they run away, you may be tempted to chase them and yell out your dog’s name, but Wilson says this can actually make things worse.

“Chasing the dog is never a good idea, but running in the opposite direction and getting the dog to chase you could work,” she says. “Try running with a toy or treat, and convincing your dog to run after you.”

It’s also important to use a calm, reassuring and upbeat voice—versus one that sounds angry or panicked. Dogs respond to the tone of their parent’s voice, so try to sound as inviting as possible.

If Your Dog Runs Away While You’re Gone

If you return home to discover your dog has run away, there are a handful of steps you can take. Ideally, Wilson says, you’ve already put important measures in place that increase reunification chances.

“All pets should wear collars with identification and contact information,” Wilson says. “Microchipping is essential, too. Just remember to update your registered address if you move.”

When your dog goes missing, act quickly and swiftly by alerting and checking in with nearby shelters, rescues, vets and neighbors while getting the word out on social media. Make sure to use a very clear, up-to-date color image of your dog when sharing.

Along with contacting shelters and notifying people via social media, it’s a good idea to go house to house and let your neighbors know your dog has gone missing. Dogs can run far, but there’s a strong chance they’re not too far away—especially if they haven’t been missing very long.

As you’re walking from house to house, call for your dog using a gentle and upbeat voice, and carry their favorite treats with you. Check out our other tips on how to find a lost dog.

Should You Punish Your Dog for Running Away?

Once reunited with your dog, you may feel intense relief and joy—but also anger and frustration. However, never punish your dog for running away. That means no light scolding, yelling, “grounding” them, or punishing them in other ways such as taking away toys or not giving them attention.

“Your dog could relate the scolding to coming back to you,” Wilson says, “and that’s not a lesson you want to teach.” It also can take a toll on your bond, which can only exacerbate their tendency to run away.

How to Keep a Dog From Running Away From Home

Apart from training, there are additional steps pet parents can take to keep their dogs from running away.

  • Secure your home and fenced yard: Look around your home and yard, and assess whether there are gaps in your fencing or other easy outs your dog can take, then make sure to fix them. Inside, double check that all windows and doors are secure.
  • Supervise them when outdoors: If your dog is an escape artist or has a history of running away, supervise them closely whenever outdoors. This includes them spending time in your front or back yard, at the dog park, or on leashed and unleashed walks.
  • Make your home safe and inviting: When home is a place they want to be, your pup will not be as inclined to run away. Stock up their toy collection; make sure they’ve got fresh water and yummy food; and give them all the cuddles.
  • Curb separation anxiety: Dogs who experience separation anxiety are more likely to run away. Take steps to cure their separation anxiety. This involves gradually getting your dog used to being alone. Start with short periods of time, and gradually increase the duration. Keeping them in a quiet and peaceful part of the home when you’re gone, and having them wear a ThunderShirt, can also help.
  • Provide exercise and mental stimulation: Give your pup lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation. Without these things, they can become bored and restless, and have a desire to burn their excess energy.

If you’re the parent of a runaway dog, you’re definitely not alone. Plenty of pet parents contend with this natural instinct in their pup. The key to keeping them safe and within your sights is to make sure they’re spayed or neutered; that your home is safe and secure; and that you’re doing what you can to address anxiety, fears and exercise needs they may have. If your dog escapes despite these efforts, it can be helpful to work with a veterinarian or a dog trainer to assist with dog obedience training.

Expert input provided by Sylvia Wilson, dog trainer and co-founder of Bark Busters International, which provides dog training across the United States, Canada, Australia, and other parts of the world.

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The Best Dog-Friendly Holiday Light Shows Across the U.S.

What can make the magical holiday season even better? Getting into the Christmas spirit with your furry friend at your side! One way to do just that is by visiting a holiday light show that you can drive through with your pup as the passenger or, when it’s permitted, walk through to get an up-close look at all the sparkling lights.

Your dog will be delighted by the moving, twinkling light displays, and at many shows, they’ll get to enjoy some treats of their own, too. Just keep these two rules in mind: When visiting a drive-through show, in most cases, your dog will need to stay in the car at all times. For walking events, your doggo should always be leashed.

For a captivating holiday experience, be sure to visit one (or a few!) of these dog-friendly holiday light shows.

We hope you and your best furry friend will have a wonderful holiday season. And although this time of year holds fun light shows and all kinds of merry activities, you’ll want to keep your pup safe as always. That’s why it’s a good idea to brush up on dog etiquette tips for the holiday season; learn about holiday hazards to avoid; and find out how to make your puppy’s first Christmas safe and joyous.

Kristen Arendt contributed to this story.

The post The Best Dog-Friendly Holiday Light Shows Across the U.S. appeared first on BeChewy.

Cat Suckling: Why Cats Suckle and How To Stop It

Long after kittenhood, some adult cats continue to suckle, and the behavior can be perplexing (and maybe even distressing) to pet parents. While unusual to us humans, suckling is actually a completely normal behavior among cats and is rarely a cause for concern. However, if you would like to discourage the habit—or simply learn more about your four-legged feline friend—it helps to understand the motives and meaning behind this behavior.

To increase your kitty IQ, read on for everything you need to know about suckling in cats, from why it happens to how to stop it.

What Is Cat Suckling?

Suckling is a natural instinct left over from your cat’s early days snuggling up to mom and nursing.

“When kittens are nursing, the act of suckling on their mother provides them not only with nutrition, but also comfort and security,” says Dr. Sabrina Kong, DVM, a California-based veterinarian.

Some cats stop suckling once weaned, while others continue to do so into adulthood, sucking on soft objects—such as blankets, T-shirts or even their pet parent’s fingers—in lieu of mom. Many times, it’s accompanied by “kneading” and purrs.

Why Does My Cat Suckle?

Reasons cats continue to suckle into adulthood include:

  • Self-soothing: “The repetitive motion and the sensation can be calming for them, much like how some humans find repetitive actions, like knitting or tapping, soothing,” says Dr. Kong. Suckling can be compared to thumb-sucking among children, adds Stephen Quandt, a certified feline behaviorist and founder of Stephen Quandt Feline Behavior Associates.
  • Early weaning: Early weaning is associated with stress-related behaviors in adult cats, explains Quandt. Kittens who are separated from their mothers early may be more likely to suckle into adulthood.
  • Genetics: “It’s more common in Oriental breeds than in European breeds,” says Quandt. Such breeds include Siamese, Burmese, Tonkinese and Balinese.

“For most cats [who suckle], this is a benign behavior,” Quandt says.

Why Do Cats Suckle on Blankets, Specifically?

Cats are known to suckle on a variety of objects and surfaces, with blankets being a classic choice.

“Blankets, in particular, seem to be a favorite for many cats to suckle on,” says Dr. Kong. “The soft texture of blankets can mimic the feel of their mother’s fur, making it a comforting item to latch on to.”

Similarly, cats may suckle on knit sweaters, textured pillows and plush toys.

When To See a Veterinarian for Cat Suckling

In most cases, suckling is a perfectly normal, healthy behavior for cats. However, because suckling can be a self-soothing behavior, Quandt explains that it can also be a symptom of a behavioral issue, like stress or boredom, or an underlying health issue that’s causing pain.

Other signs of stress or pain may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased sleeping
  • They’re avoiding you

If you suspect your cat is suckling in response to pain or stress, a prompt check-in with your veterinarian is in order.

Additionally, excessive suckling can lead to other, potentially dangerous, behaviors—including overgrooming, tail chewing and choking—which require a veterinary visit.

“If your cat is swallowing parts of the thing they are suckling, or exhibiting more serious behaviors like overgrooming, then consulting with your vet is in order,” says Quandt.

Learn more about overgrooming.

How To Stop a Cat From Suckling

Suckling is usually harmless. However, if you’d like to discourage your cat’s suckling behavior (and save your blankets), there are a few strategies to try.

Offer a Replacement

If your cat is damaging a favorite blanket, try replacing it with a plush, textured cat toy, pet blanket or other blanket you don’t mind giving up, suggests Quandt.

Initiate a Play Session

The next time your cat begins to suckle, grab the feather wand! Not only will playtime distract your cat from suckling, it could provide the mental stimulation and connection they may have been seeking, says Dr. Kong.

Practice Positive Reinforcement

When your cat chooses not to suckle, remember to acknowledge and reward the behavior. “Positive reinforcement can be effective, like praising the cat when they choose not to suckle or redirecting their attention and then rewarding them,” says Dr. Kong.

Never Punish Your Cat

If your cat continues to suckle, do not react negatively. “Don’t shout at or punish your cat, as this will add stress and may make it worse,” says Quandt. Instead, continue to offer redirection and consult your veterinarian if the habit is excessive or if you’re concerned that it has become a compulsive disorder.

Cat Suckling FAQs


When do kittens stop suckling?

A:Kittens begin to wean from their mother at around 4 weeks old; by 8 to 10 weeks, most kittens are fully weaned and ready to be adopted. While some cats will never suckle after they stop nursing, others will continue the habit into adulthood.


Why do cats suckle on blankets?

A:Cats tend to suckle on things that mimic a mother cat. Soft, textured and warm blankets are good substitutes.


Why does my cat suckle in his sleep?

A:Suckling can be relaxing and soothing for cats, so don’t be surprised if your cat dozes off while doing it! If your cat tends to suckle when they’re most relaxed, they may also suckle in their sleep.

In most cases, suckling is a perfectly normal habit that some cats practice long after kittenhood. However, if you’re concerned that your cat is suckling too much or is in distress, it’s important to contact your veterinarian.

Curious about your feline friend’s other quirky habits? Learn more about 15 weird cat behaviors and what they mean.

Expert input provided by Dr. Sabrina Kong, DVM, California-based veterinarian, and Stephen Quandt, a certified feline behaviorist and founder of Stephen Quandt Feline Behavior Associates in New York City.

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The Best Dog-Friendly Coffee Shops in Each State

As dog parents, we love taking our four-legged friends with us wherever we can. But finding a dog-friendly coffee shop with friendly baristas, good coffee and maybe even a pup cup for your pooch isn’t always easy to come by. We scoured all 50 states for dog-friendly patios, off-leash eateries and Fido-themed coffee bars that offer pet-friendly options for your best friend.

Whether you’re aiming for dog-friendly adjacent or just plain dog lovers when it comes to your coffee shop, you’re spoiled for choice with this list. There are plenty of furry friend fanatics in the U.S. to celebrate and toast your favorite cup of joe with here. Want to kick the coffee creativity up a notch? Try one of our recipes for coffee-inspired dog-friendly drinks.

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