3 minute read
Take your relationship to the next level by understanding your pets’ nonverbal cues.

Your pets are full of fascinating quirks and behaviors. Dogs and cats use interesting cues to let owners know their state of mind.

In this blog, two of our Firehouse veterinarians – Dr Sherry Hill and Dr Kristen Ussery from Firehouse Cedar Park – unravel the mysteries behind their non-verbal communication.

A better understanding of your pets will strengthen your bond with your furry companions.

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? 

Many dog owners have pondered this question. Let’s dive into the few reasons behind this behavior.

  • Dogs are omnivores by nature: This means they have a diet that includes both plant-based and animal-based foods.
  • They’re hungry for nutrients: Like humans, dogs may instinctively crave certain vitamins, minerals, or fiber they find in grass.
  • If seeking stomach relief: Some dogs eat grass to heal a sore stomach, digest food, induce vomiting, or ease discomfort.
  • Natural behavior: Sometimes, it’s just because they’re dogs! Studies have shown that dogs eat grass instinctively.

Dr Hill notices her dog nibbling on the same 3 plants every day on their morning walk. “It’s like she’s eating a salad.”

As long as the dog isn’t vomiting or showing signs of distress, veterinarians say eating grass is generally considered harmless.

Why Does Your Dog Wags His Tail?

We often associate a wagging tail with happiness.

“In vet school,” says Dr Hill, “behaviorists taught us that a wagging tail shows a dog’s readiness to interact.” Yet, you know your dog best. Consider the context and your dog’s mood.

Dr Ussery adds that tail wagging can also mean “I’m nervous.” You’re your dog’s advocate. So if you’re in a new park or with strangers, observe your dog’s signals.

Why Do Dogs Lick?

Affection from pets is the best!

Dogs lick our faces for several reasons:

  • As a gesture of appeasement
  • As a sign they want to engage
  • Because they like the smell of your most recent meal. 😁

For puppies, licking our faces might reflect an ancestral habit. Wolf pups lick their mother’s face in search of comfort, care, and food.

Why Do Cats “Boop” Us With Their Heads?

Cats show affection by head booping.

This funny and unique feline characteristic is a sign of wanting attention and closeness. It’s their way of saying, “Let’s hang out.”

Why Do Cats Whip Their Tails?

Tail whipping signals your pet’s readiness to interact. It can also be a warning to step back.

Learn to differentiate between the two:

  • Vigorous tail whipping while pouncing shows they are happy
  • Tail whipping may also indicate they feeling cautious. They might be telling you to “back off,” says Dr Ussery.

Why Do Cats Follow Us From Room to Room?

Cats might trail you around the house to show their affection. “They way they show you that they love you, is that they are with you,” says Dr Hill.

Dr Hill advises pet owners to enjoy these moments as a way to bond with your kitty. “They are looking for attention,” she says. “Slow down and give them some love.”

Dr Ussery echoes, “they’re very subtle” about the way they show their love. Know the cues so you can interact when they want to receive love.

Creating a harmonious connection with your pet is built on understanding. You know your pet best. If they are acting out of the ordinary, schedule a visit or contact us with questions. We’re here for you 24/7.

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