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Why Does My Cat Keep Licking Me?

FOR CAT PEOPLE | By Zibby Wilder

Why Does My Cat Keep Licking Me?

Dogs are known for their propensity to show love by giving you a good slurp. Cats, not so much. It’s not often that our feline friends lick things other than themselves and each other, so what does it mean if your cat is–or has recently become–a “licker”?

While getting a little love from our furry companions is generally a nice thing, excessive licking can be tiresome and sometimes even painful. Those little pink tongues are cute but they’re covered with barbs—like you’re getting kissed by a sanding machine. Curious why it happens? Here’s why cats lick and why yours may be licking you.

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Why cats lick

According to experts at Cat Behavior Associates, licking serves many functions for cats including, but not limited to:

Eating: licking is how cats historically get meat off the tasty bones of their prey.

Cleaning: this includes coat maintenance, removing scents after a meal, cleaning other kitties, and for cats with kittens, help with elimination.

Scent: all grooming (group grooming) helps create a familiar scent to a cat colony.

Health: grooming is a way to keep cool, remove external parasites such as fleas, and a method of stress relief.

As for why your cat may be licking you, Marci Koski, a certified feline behavior and training consultant and owner of Feline Behavior Solutions in Washington State, tells PetMD that it’s considered positive. “I usually take my cats’ licking as a compliment,” she says.

Aside from themselves and members of their feline families, common materials cats lick includes cotton, plastic, bedding, and rubber.

Why your cat is licking you

Overall, there are four general reasons why cats lick their people:

1. They need attention

If your kitty’s licking is a new behavior or has become excessive, it’s probably a symptom of boredom or anxiety. Because licking is a soothing thing for cats, they may use it to self-soothe in the event of stressors such as a change in routine or a new family member (both the human and feline kind).

Even if there are no actual reasons you can think of for your kitty to be stressed, help take their mind off it by engaging in interactive play or by grooming your kitty with a brush. This can get their minds off the licking and also serve as quality bonding time, something the two of you can never have enough of.

2. You need to be “cleaned”

Not that you’re dirty or anything! Cleaning is a bonding activity for kitties, and if you have more than one you may see them frequently grooming one another—and that can include you. “Within a group of cats living together, there is typically a designated ‘allo-groomer,’ which is a cat that licks and grooms the other cats in the group,” Koski points out to PetMD. When your cat licks you, it may be your cat trying to include you as part of their family group.

3. You taste yummy

Did you make a tuna fish sandwich for lunch? If you have good smells on you, your kitty might just be wanting to partake. Lotions, lip balms, perfumes or even just extra-salty skin from a workout can all attract a kitty. With scents, synthetic chemicals and essential oils are not good for kitties to ingest. If you suspect your cat is licking scented skin products, redirect the behavior.

4. You are loved

Frequently, licking is associated with nursing behavior, where your cat suckles and makes dough on you. This means your cat feels safe with you and wants to reinforce your bond.

But what if your cat is licking you too much?

If you like getting kisses here and there, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging your kitty to do so. If you don’t like all the licking, it’s a pretty easy behavior to stop through redirection, distraction, and enrichment. Pet Health Network recommends gently redirecting the licking to something else instead of shooing your cat off.

Consider keeping a little stash of toys at hand and distract your kitty with a little play session when the licking starts. Toys that will absorb your cat’s attention and keep her mind busy are also good options, such as an A.I. toy or interactive treat feeder. Mikel Delgado, a cat behavior expert with Rover, says that puzzle toys exercise both your cat’s mind and their bodies. “Food puzzles can be a great way to prevent boredom, increase exercise, and slow down fast eaters,” she says. “They may also prevent or help solve behavior problems that stem from boredom.”

Truly excessive licking that does not respond to any of these solutions may be a symptom of an underlying medical issue. Some issues, such as pica, can look like licking or sucking but results from your cat may ingesting things she shouldn’t. Check with your veterinarian. Once medical issues are ruled out, consult a cat behaviorist if the behavior continues.

Further reading:

This Is Why Some Dogs Sneeze When They Play

FOR DOG PEOPLE | By Cecily Sailer

This Is Why Some Dogs Sneeze When They Play

Dogs definitely sneeze for the same reasons we do—sometimes, at least.

Environmental irritants like dust certainly cause sneezing, though dogs are less susceptible to allergens like the molds and pollens that typically affect human sinuses.

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Dogs will also sneeze violently and frequently if a foreign object, such as a blade of grass, becomes stuck in the nasal passage.

But you may have noticed an odd sort of sneezing in your dog—one that comes right in the middle of a raucous play session with another canine friend.

The Play Sneeze

But why would a dog need to sneeze during a bout of fun and excitement? Do their noses get itchy from all the bouncing around? Is it a defensive tactic to distract the other dog and gain the upper hand?

Dog behavior experts believe this particular sneeze is part of a set of a communication tools dogs use to relate to one another—to signal cooperation, warning, deference, or an invitation to play. The sneeze in this context is a reminder to the playmate that the scrimmage is just play, not a true fight.

You may notice a dog sneeze just as play begins to escalate and become more intense. The sneeze is a cue to the playmate to keep things fun, light, and safe.

The play sneeze is also a sign the dog is having a great time! And it’s definitely fun to watch.

It’s a particular joy watching dogs frolic, chase, and nip at each other. Their energy is remarkable, and their goofy dance with one another is nothing less than delightful. A few random sneezes thrown into the mix only drive up the entertainment value.

When Sneezing Is a Concern

Generally, sneezing in dogs is normal, expected, and yes, pretty cute.

However, if your dog seems to be sneezing more frequently than normal, especially if it’s accompanied by other behavior changes, it could be cause for concern. Less common reasons for canine sneezing include nasal mites, infections, or even tumors. If your dog is experiencing frequent sneezing attacks, it’s a good idea to consult your vet to get to the bottom of it.

For More on How Dogs Communicate

Dogs communicate with us and with each other all the time, though we may not always know how to read their cues. Check out these articles for more on the wide, fascinating world of dog communication:

Learn to Read the Magic of Dog Calming Signals

Dog Speak: Understanding What Your Dog is Telling You

An Illustrated Guide to Dog Behavior

The Most Popular U.S. Pet Names of 2019

Choosing the right pet name is serious business—even if your dog’s name is Peanut Butter. That’s because the perfect name, like the perfect pet sitter, has to fit your pet’s personality (and yours).

Every year at Rover, we delve into our database of over a million pets to determine which names are leading the pack. In the process, we uncover the trends and cultural moments that inspire us.

Read on for the most popular dog names of 2019, plus find name trends and data for cats, dog breeds, and so much more.

And don’t miss this sweet video featuring the stories behind real dog names.

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Name rankings byNational – DogsNational – CatsAtlantaAustinBaltimoreBirminghamBostonChicagoDallasDenverDetroitHoustonLos AngelesMiamiMilwaukeeMinneapolisNew York CityOrlandoPhiladelphiaPhoenixPortlandSan DiegoSan FranciscoSan JoseSeattleTampaWashington DC

Top Female Dog Names

  1. Bella
  2. Luna
  3. Lucy
  4. Daisy
  5. Lily
  6. Zoe
  7. Lola
  8. Molly
  9. Sadie
  10. Bailey

Top Male Dog Names

  1. Max
  2. Charlie
  3. Cooper
  4. Buddy
  5. Rocky
  6. Milo
  7. Jack
  8. Bear
  9. Duke
  10. Teddy

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Trendsetting Pet Names

Variety and creativity are the new normal for pet names. Don’t be surprised to hear “Fetch, Dumpling!” or “Here, Nebula!” at the dog park (or cat cafe) this year. Hot baby names are tops for puppies and kittens, too. Move over Fido—it’s time for Finn and Fiona.

Top 5 Female Dog Names

Bella, Luna, Lucy, Daisy, and Lily are the happy-go-lucky bunch at the top.

dog names this year that are popular include luna, lily, and molly

Top 5 Male Dog Names

Rocky is new to the top five boys’ list, while the other four are solid canine citizens: Max, Charlie, Cooper, and Buddy.

Top 5 Female Cat Names

Cat moms and dads fell in love with Luna! It soared past Bella, Lily, Lucy, and Kitty.

Top 5 Male Cat Names

Pet parents must be nostalgic for Disney’s Oliver and Company because Oliver is big for boy cats. Leo, Milo, Charlie, and Max round out the top.

Pop Culture Pets

Pet parents love their TV, movies, and music.

Game of Thrones Cat and Dog Names

Game of Thrones wrapped up this year, but our furry friends will carry the torch! Arya even slipped into the top 100 dog names.

Music Names for Dogs and Cats

Musicians inspired creative monikers for our pets, from stylish Lady Gaga to girl-next-door Taylor Swift and iconic Beyonce.

Hot this year: Lizzo (up 100%!) and Cardi B in all variations.

More Movies and TV

New movies and classic franchises alike inspired pet parents in 2019: Genie is up thanks to the Aladdin reboot, while WoodyBuzz Lightyear, and Slinky Dog (new this year!) were on the rise due to Toy Story 4.

Superheroes are especially big for dogs! Okoye is up 250%, Nebula is up 163%, and Black Widow is up 100%. Villains find their way onto the list, too, with Sauron and Bellatrix both up 200%, followed by Thanos and Tywin.

Top Superhero Names for Dogs and Cats

  1. Harley
  2. Loki
  3. Thor
  4. Flash
  5. May
  6. Drax
  7. Ronan
  8. Valkyrie
  9. Mary Jane
  10. Stan

Pets Named for Celebrities and Royals

Celebrity baby names are big for pets: Stormi and Saint are trending way up.

Other rising stars include Keanu (up 93%), Kim (up 47%), Ariana (up 54%) and JLo (up 30%).

Royal pet names are trending with Princess Diana up 200%, Queen Elizabeth up 150%, Archie up 45%, Meghan up 42%, and Charlotte up 24%.

Marijuana Dog Names (Cats, Too)

The weed-craze has swept dog lovers as names like Budder (up 600%), Dank (up 116%), Indica (up 93%), Herb (up 66%) and Kush (up 62%) are all trending upwards.

Food and Wine and Furry Friends, Oh My

From boozy brunch to natural noshing, food trends are serious pet name inspiration this year.

Fun fact: dog names after comforting sweets and baked goods took off in 2019.

Trending Carb Names

  • Cake
  • Croissant
  • Brioche
  • Waffles
  • Cupcake
  • Pancakes

Meanwhile, cat owners are caffeinated. Eight of the top ten drink-themed cat names are coffee-inspired! That includes Mocha, Kona, Latte, Coffee, Cappuccino, Espresso, and even Macchiato.

Top 10 Food and Drink Dog Names

  1. Pepper
  2. Ginger
  3. Kona
  4. Oreo
  5. Peanut
  6. Sammy
  7. Cookie
  8. Mocha
  9. Sugar
  10. Biscuit

Top 10 Food and Beverage Names for Cats

  1. Oreo
  2. Pepper
  3. Pumpkin
  4. Sammy
  5. Ginger
  6. Peanut
  7. Cookie
  8. Snickers
  9. Sugar
  10. Mocha

Rover’s Dog Name GeneratorFind the perfect dog name! Tell us your dog’s breed and gender, and we’ll give you three names to choose from: popular, trending, and unique.Get Your Dog’s Name

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Top Dog Names by Breed

Unusual Dog Names

How to Name Your Pet

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Puppy HQ by Rover

Top 100 U.S. Male Dog Names

  1. Max
  2. Charlie
  3. Cooper
  4. Buddy
  5. Rocky
  6. Milo
  7. Jack
  8. Bear
  9. Duke
  10. Teddy
  11. Oliver
  12. Bentley
  13. Tucker
  14. Beau
  15. Leo
  16. Toby
  17. Jax
  18. Zeus
  19. Winston
  20. Blue
  21. Finn
  22. Louie
  23. Ollie
  24. Murphy
  25. Gus
  26. Moose
  27. Jake
  28. Loki
  29. Dexter
  30. Hank
  31. Bruno
  32. Apollo
  33. Buster
  34. Thor
  35. Bailey
  36. Gunnar
  37. Lucky
  38. Diesel
  39. Harley
  40. Henry
  41. Koda
  42. Jackson
  43. Riley
  44. Ace
  45. Oscar
  46. Chewy
  47. Bandit
  48. Baxter
  49. Scout
  50. Jasper
  51. Maverick
  52. Sam
  53. Cody
  54. Gizmo
  55. Shadow
  56. Simba
  57. Rex
  58. Brody
  59. Tank
  60. Marley
  61. Otis
  62. Remi / Remy
  63. Roscoe
  64. Rocco
  65. Sammy
  66. Cash
  67. Boomer
  68. Prince
  69. Benji
  70. Benny
  71. Copper
  72. Archie
  73. Chance
  74. Ranger
  75. Ziggy
  76. Luke
  77. George
  78. Oreo
  79. Hunter
  80. Rusty
  81. King
  82. Odin
  83. Coco
  84. Frankie
  85. Tyson
  86. Chase
  87. Theo
  88. Romeo
  89. Bruce
  90. Rudy
  91. Zeke
  92. Kobe
  93. Peanut
  94. Joey
  95. Oakley
  96. Chico
  97. Mac
  98. Walter
  99. Brutus
  100. Samson

Top 100 U.S. Female Dog Names

  1. Bella
  2. Luna
  3. Lucy
  4. Daisy
  5. Lily
  6. Zoe
  7. Lola
  8. Molly
  9. Sadie
  10. Bailey
  11. Stella
  12. Maggie
  13. Roxy
  14. Sophie
  15. Chloe
  16. Penny
  17. Coco
  18. Nala
  19. Rosie
  20. Ruby
  21. Gracie
  22. Ellie
  23. Mia
  24. Piper
  25. Callie
  26. Abby
  27. Lexi
  28. Ginger
  29. Lulu
  30. Pepper
  31. Willow
  32. Riley
  33. Millie
  34. Harley
  35. Sasha
  36. Lady
  37. Izzy
  38. Layla
  39. Charlie
  40. Dixie
  41. Maya
  42. Annie
  43. Kona
  44. Hazel
  45. Winnie
  46. Olive
  47. Princess
  48. Emma
  49. Athena
  50. Nova
  51. Belle
  52. Honey
  53. Ella
  54. Marley
  55. Cookie
  56. Maddie
  57. Remi / Remy
  58. Phoebe
  59. Scout
  60. Minnie
  61. Dakota
  62. Holly
  63. Angel
  64. Josie
  65. Leia
  66. Harper
  67. Ava
  68. Missy
  69. Mila
  70. Sugar
  71. Shelby
  72. Poppy
  73. Blue
  74. Mocha
  75. Cleo
  76. Penelope
  77. Ivy
  78. Peanut
  79. Fiona
  80. Xena
  81. Gigi
  82. Sandy
  83. Bonnie
  84. Jasmine
  85. Baby
  86. Macy
  87. Paisley
  88. Shadow
  89. Koda
  90. Pearl
  91. Skye
  92. Delilah
  93. Nina
  94. Trixie
  95. Charlotte
  96. Aspen
  97. Arya
  98. Diamond
  99. Georgia
  100. Dolly

10 Common Dog Breed Misconceptions

We at Rover love dogs of all breeds—purebred or mixed. Though dogs tend to have specific traits, certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert Nicole Ellis shared with us 10 common breed misconceptions.

Any dog can behave well in public spaces, like restaurants, given the proper training and socialization. Getting your dog into an exercise and training regimen as soon as possible will ensure your dog gets the benefit of the best traits available. Socializing to new sounds, sights, people, and pets is key to having a very confident but well-rounded dog.

Dog Breed Myths

Ten beliefs about dogs that just aren’t true!

1. Mastiffs are not friendly or low-key

While they may look intimidating, Mastiffs are really friendly and typically well-behaved dogs in public spaces. Puppies can be active, but Mastiffs do mellow out quickly with a nice walk each day: they’ll be very content snoozing, while you enjoy an outdoor meal. Be prepared to clean up some drool, though.

2. Great Danes aren’t compatible with apartments

Believe it or not, despite their size, great Danes can actually be amazingly relaxed pets. While they may physically take up more space than most breeds, they’re known for being gentle giants. Their loving, calm demeanor makes them perfect for public interaction and apartment living.

3. Greyhounds are high-energy dogs that don’t chill out

People often assume Greyhounds need a lot of exercise due to being known for the track, but they are actually often couch potatoes. That doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a walk and some outdoor time but they make great house dogs as well.

4. Pitbulls’ jaws lock if they bite

There is a common misconception that pitbulls’ jaws lock, but this is actually not true; their jaws are the same as other dogs. Pitbulls were actually once known as the American family dog and considered nanny dogs to watch over young kids. Their athleticism and strength can lead to a powerful bite, but that’s not due to their jaws locking. Pitbulls make great additions to the family.

5. All small dogs are yappy

As a dog trainer, I work with some small breeds that are more vocal, but that’s not true for all smaller breeds. For example, the Cavalier King Charles, Chinese crested, Japanese chin and Italian greyhound are actually often very quiet dogs.

6. Shelties and miniature collies are the same breed

While Shetland sheepdogs may look like Miniature collies, they are actually different breeds, both recognizable by the American Kennel Club.

7. Poodles won’t impact those with allergies

All animals produce dander, meaning no animal is truly hypoallergenic. Poodles and some other breeds like Bichon Frise, Cavaliers, and Havanese shed much less frequently, which leads to less dander production. These breeds are great for those with allergies to dogs.

8. Small dogs won’t be able to run with you

Though there is a common misconception that small dogs are less likely to join you in your active lifestyle, many small dogs excel at dog sports. Yes, even Pugs can make it around an agility course quite well. Just watch a Toy poodle or Jack Russell terrier navigate an agility course to be surprised.

9. Long-haired dogs need to be shaved in the summer

Many people think that their long-haired dogs must be shaved for the summer to keep them cool, but it will actually do quite the opposite. While it’s okay to give some dogs a summer haircut, a double-coated dog’s fur is actually designed to help heat escape and keep them cool in warmer months.

10. Breeds like Rottweilers and Dobermans might turn on their owners

Some breeds like Rottweilers and Dobermans are stereotyped to potentially be vicious and turn on their families, but they’re not predispositioned as breeds to do so.

Though they have a big bark, these breeds can be extremely sweet and loyal. With the right socialization and training, they will greet your house guests with lots of love and attention.

To learn more about different traits of popular dog breeds, check out Rover’s dog breed selector tool.

Interested in learning more about services Rover provides?

Dog Boarding | Pet Sitting | Dog Walking | Doggy Day Care | House Sitting

America’s Most Popular Dog Breeds

Ever wonder how your favorite type of dog stacks up against the rest? At Rover, we were curious too, and took a look at dog breed data from over half a million pet parents nationwide to see which breeds reign supreme in America in 2019. We used this data to rank the top 20 most popular dog breeds nationally, and then looked at individual cities to dig up regional differences and showcase the five most beloved breeds in each city that outpaced their national rank. Unsurprisingly, mixed breeds, Labrador retrievers, and Chihuahuas take the top spots both nationally and in most cities across the U.S.Thinking of adopting a new family member? Whether your new pup is a single breed or a mix of five, learning about the best dog breeds for you can help inform your decision.

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Beyond the rank

Breed rankings by cityNational

  • #1National Ranking

Mixed Breed

Often hardy and always unique, mixed breed dogs continually top lists of the most popular dog types in America. There’s a mixed pup out there for just about everyone!

  • #2National Ranking

Labrador Retriever

Labs are one of America’s most popular dog breeds. These high-spirited sporting dogs are perfect for people who love spending time outdoors swimming, jogging, or hunting.Learn more

  • #3National Ranking

Chihuahua

Looking for a lot of personality in a compact package? Adopt a Chihuahua! They’re ideal dogs for city dwellers, but require training to temper their “big dog” attitudes.Learn more

  • #4National Ranking

Golden Retriever

Intelligence and a friendly disposition make goldens one of America’s most popular dog breeds. These smart pups do well with obedience training and make great hunters.Learn more

  • #5National Ranking

German Shepherd

Intelligent and protective, German shepherds make loyal companions. These dogs bond well with their owners through physical activities like herding, tracking, and agility.Learn more

  • #6National Ranking

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies are true terriers: funny, feisty, and braver than their size implies. Known as “the tomboy toy,” Yorkies are also quite affectionate and favorites of city-dwellers worldwide.Learn more

  • #7National Ranking

Shih Tzu

Known as the “little lion dog,” the shih tzu is an outgoing and affectionate breed. Mischievous and playful, you’ll never have a dull moment with a shih tzu around!Learn more

  • #8National Ranking

Dachshund

These spunky pups are full of personality. Ever curious and alert, dachshunds are notoriously stubborn and require patience to train, though the results are totally worth it.Learn more

  • #9National Ranking

Boxer

Fun-loving and protective of their people, boxers make great companions. Consider a boxer if you’re an active individual looking for a playful, high-energy dog.Learn more

  • #10National Ranking

Goldendoodle

The goldendoodle is a fairly new crossbreed that’s growing in popularity. They’re known for their teddy bear looks, low-shedding coats, and friendly personalities.Learn more

  • #11National Ranking

Poodle

From toy to standard sizes, poodles are intelligent, athletic dogs. Bred originally as hunting dogs, these pups especially enjoy retrieving toys, swimming, and long walks or jogs.Learn more

  • #12National Ranking

Beagle

With their pleading expressions and funny personalities, it’s hard to resist a beagle. They make excellent hunting dogs and tend to be very loyal to their people.Learn more

  • #13National Ranking

Australian Shepherd

Australian shepherds are tireless partners and working dogs through and through. This incredibly smart breed makes an excellent companion for experienced dog owners.Learn more

  • #14National Ranking

Siberian Husky

Quite friendly and social, Siberian husky dogs can make great family dogs. They do well with owners who can keep them busy and active on daily walks.Learn more

  • #15National Ranking

Maltese

Outgoing and affectionate, Maltese dogs make charming companions. Requiring only moderate exercise, these pups can be sweet, if at times stubborn, family pets.Learn more

  • #16National Ranking

American Pit Bull Terrier

With naturally gentle, loyal dispositions, pit bull terriers can make great family pets. This breed responds well to training and are popular obedience and agility competitors.Learn more

  • #17National Ranking

Pug

Charming, funny, and mischievous, pugs make loving pets. Small yet solid, they’re the ideal house dog and happy in just about any home—city or country, kids or none.Learn more

  • #18National Ranking

French Bulldog

Stocky like an English bulldog but not as large, Frenchies are great for homes of all sizes. They don’t need a ton of exercise—nice walks and trips to the dog park work well.Learn more

  • #19National Ranking

Pomeranian

With their foxy faces and big dog attitudes, Poms command attention wherever they go. They’re also smarter than their cute appearance may imply, mastering tricks with ease.Learn more

  • #20National Ranking

Border Collie

This energetic workaholic is not for the novice dog owner. At the end of a long day, however, they’ll happily snuggle up with their favorite person to celebrate a job well done.Learn more

Learn more

Find the Right Breed for You

Looking to adopt a dog? Congrats! In a survey of over 1,000 dog parents, we found that nearly 80% considered their own lifestyle in the process, including their living situation (50%), family (42%), schedule (39%), and activity level (30%). Though every dog has its own personality and mixed breeds are the most popular, this tool can help you discover which dog breed traits best fit your lifestyle. Answer questions about your preferences and we’ll match you with compatible breeds from Rover’s list of the 50 most popular dog breeds.

Take the quiz

10 Common Dog Breed Misconceptions

We at Rover love dogs of all breeds—purebred or mixed. Though dogs tend to have specific traits with their own personalities, certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert Nicole Ellis shared with us 10 common breed misconceptions to watch out for.

Keep reading

Interested in learning more about services Rover provides?

Dog Boarding | Pet Sitting | Dog Walking | Doggy Day Care | House Sitting

Homemade Chicken, Beef, and Salmon Dog Jerky Treats Couldn’t Be Easier to Make

These homemade chicken jerky, beef jerky, and salmon jerky strips are great for dogs and people, though we created them specifically for the dogs in our lives. They’re just the kind of chewy, satisfying dog treat your happy hound will go wild for. And with no weird added preservatives, excess sodium, sugar, or carbs, you can feel good about sharing them with all your four-legged friends anytime.

To make these dog jerky treats, all these you need is some lean protein and a dehydrator (or your home oven, set at its lowest setting). In 4-8 hours, you can have a cheaper, healthier alternative to store-bought jerky.

Choose the leanest meats you can find for the healthiest dog jerky with the longest shelf life.

diy dehydrated jerky treats for dogs HERO

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Homemade Jerky Treats for Dogs

You can use this recipe with any lean meat you have on hand. If you’re pressed for time (or just don’t enjoy handling raw meat) check your grocery store for packages of meat sliced thin or in strips ready to go.

  • Author: Kiki Kane
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 Trays 1x
  • Category: Healthy Snacks
  • Cuisine: DIY Dog Treats

SCALE 1x2x3x

Ingredients

Protein options

  • A lean cut of beef like flank steak with little or no marbling
  • Chicken breast or thigh (there will some fat trimming for thigh but we all know it’s tastier than breast!)
  • Salmon (it’s a fatty fish so you’ll want to keep this jerky in the fridge but your dog will go WILD for the flavor). Check for bones and remove with tweezers.
  • Any white fish. Check for bones and remove with tweezers.
  • Game meat (the USDA recommends you freeze game before dehydrating to eliminate E Coli bacteria and any potential parasites. Additionally, you will want to dehydrate a little longer to ensure the meat is cooked fully.) 
  • Lamb or mutton is a tasty option if you find it on sale.

Marinade

A marinade is completely optional, of course, but makes this jerky into a recipe that works equally well for dogs and people. We use low-sodium ingredients and do not add sugar to ensure that this treat is as healthy as it is tasty. You can make as much or as little of this marinade as you need.

  • 1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup liquid aminos (this is like low-sodium, gluten-free soy sauce you can find in the health food section of your grocery store. You can substitute with low-sodium soy sauce if you can’t find this product in your area)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • A splash of fish sauce
  • A pinch of powdered ginger
  • Optional: 1-2 drops liquid smoke

Equipment

  • We used a Nesco Snackmaster Pro Dehydrator but your oven on the lowest setting works fine, too.
  • Ziplock bag or glass or ceramic container for marinating
  • If you’re using your oven, you’ll want to place your meats onto racks on baking sheets, or a sheet of parchment paper on cookie sheets.

Instructions

Mix up your marinade. You will need one batch of marinade per pound of meat.

Prep your lean meats by first removing all visible fat and discarding.

Slice your proteins into whatever shape you like, bearing in mind that:

  • Thinner cuts will dehydrate faster
  • Uniform sized pieces will dehydrate at the same speed for even doneness
  • Cutting with the grain will make a chewier jerky treat
  • Cutting against the grain will make a less chewy jerky treat

Place your protein in the marinade, stirring to make sure everything is evenly covered.

Marinate in the refrigerator for 4-24 hours.

When you’re ready to dehydrate, preheat your dehydrator to 160 degrees F, or your oven to 160 degrees F or your lowest setting.

Remove all the trays from your dehydrator. You don’t want to get raw meat juice all over the trays you aren’t using and it will increase airflow dramatically.

  • Strain protein from marinade, patting dry with a paper towel.
  • Place sliced meats onto trays, making sure to leave enough room between every piece for good airflow.
  • Place trays in the dehydrator leaving good space between each tray if you can.

Set timer for 4 hours.

Check for doneness at 4 hours for the dehydrator, 3 hours if you’re using the oven since the temp will likely be higher.

You want to see the meat shrunk by at least half, dark and consistent in color, and dry all the way through. The meat should bend but not feel rubbery or puffy (chicken, I’m looking at you.)

When meat is completely cooled, store in an airtight container.

Thoroughly clean your dehydrator trays and the inside of your dehydrator, the bottom shelf will get sticky and you don’t really want these flavors transferring to your next cooking project!

Jerky will keep for one week on your counter or two weeks in the fridge. If you want it to last for a couple of months you could use a vacuum sealer. But we’re pretty sure your dog will help you make it disappear in a matter of days, if not hours.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @roverdotcom on Instagram and hashtag it #cookingwithrover.

What the Heck Is a Dehydrator?

A dehydrator like the one we use in this video is a very handy, relatively inexpensive kitchen gadget we love for making dried treats of all kinds. This includes fruits, veggies, and meats.

However, you can definitely make homemade jerky in the oven, as specified in the recipe. Just be sure to go low and slow.

NESCO Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator

Sturdy, easy to use, and versatile for homemade dried snacks of all kinds, for people AND dogs.Find at Amazon for $58.70The Dog People Top Pick

Homemade Dog Jerky Treats are Great for Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys can get boring with the same old stuffing. A high-value reward like jerky dog treats can breathe new life into an older toy. Get the cookie pickle here.

Tasting Notes

Cravealicious!

Homemade Dog Treats

Homemade dog treats have no preservatives, which is great for your dog, but means they won’t last as long as store-bought options. Be sure and store your DIY dog cookies and treats in an airtight container, and use your treats within a week or two at most. The less moisture in your dog treats, the longer they’ll last, so be sure and bake thoroughly for longer shelf life.

Dog treats are not a replacement for nutritionally balanced dog food. Treats should never make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet (though they might be the best part.)

More Great Homemade Dog Treat Recipes

How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone?

Having a dog means having a schedule. You arrange work hours, social outings, and errands based on when you can get home. If you’re anything like me, you sometimes skip a night out because you feel guilty leaving your dog home alone.

Dogs enjoy the company of their humans, but that doesn’t mean leaving them home alone is bad or dangerous. Read on to learn how long you can leave a dog alone, and tips to make their time at home safe and enriching.

Consider the bladder

The first question most people ask about leaving their dog home alone is: how long can my dog last without a bathroom break? According to experts, dogs generally need to pee between three to five times a day. But the timing of potty breaks varies from dog to dog, and puppies and seniors need more frequent breaks.

How long can a dog “hold it” before needing a potty break? Here are common time limits for dogs of different life stages:

  • Puppies: one hour per every month of age (so a three month old puppy can wait three hours to pee)
  • Adult dogs age one year and up: up to eight hours, but ideally no more than six
  • Senior dogs age eight and up: depending on size and health, anywhere from two to six hours

Of course, the above estimates vary depending on a dog’s size, health, and habits. But any dog forced to hold their urine for too long is at risk for urinary tract infection, stones, or crystals. Plus, holding urine for too long is just plain uncomfortable, and can lead to accidents in the house.

For safety and comfort’s sake,  provide a potty break ever four to six hours. Standard work days are eight to ten hours long, so if you can’t swing home at lunch to take the dog out, hire a dog walker for worry-free care.

For safety and comfort’s sake,  provide a potty break ever four to six hours

Exercise counts

Beyond potty breaks, your dog needs physical activity during the day. Whatever your dog’s energy and fitness level, exercise helps them:

  • Stay healthy
  • Digest meals
  • Stimulate their mind
  • Burn calories
  • Avoid boredom (and boredom-induced destructive behaviors)

Individual exercise needs vary depending on your dog’s age, breed, and health level. Herding and sporting dogs often require more intense and lengthy activity; lower-energy breeds and older dogs can do with significantly less (source). But every dog needs to stretch its legs a couple times a day.

In general, healthy dogs need about 60 minutes of moderate activity every day, but it doesn’t have to be continuous. Before you leave your dog home alone for a length of time, spend 20-30 minutes taking them for a brisk walk or play session. Tire them out so their alone time will be more relaxing.

Then, a midday romp (with you or a dog walker) will help break up the day, and of course, spend quality time together when you’re home for the night!

If your dog acts anxious or destructive after spending time alone, it’s possible they need more frequent and intense exercise. Speak to your vet to determine an ideal fitness routine for your pet.

In general, healthy dogs need about 60 minutes of moderate activity every day

Mental activity matters, too

Beyond how long a dog can hold it, or how much exercise a dog needs each day, mental activity is important to keep your best friend healthy, happy, and well-behaved. Puppies and young dogs need more enrichment than adults, but all dogs need a certain amount of mental stimulation throughout the day (source). Without it, they may become bored, and even destructive when left alone.

Whether it’s a training session, exciting neighborhood walk, puzzle feeder, or a round of indoor games, enrichment activities help keep your dog healthy and balance out the time she spends alone.

To keep your dog busy:

The takeaway

All dogs are different, and some can handle more alone time than others. But every dog needs periodic potty breaks, exercise, and mental stimulation. If your work schedule means your dog spends most of the day home alone, consider booking a trustworthy house sitter to stop by and give your dog a break.

dog walker or sitter can give your dog the activity she needs during the day, and help you feel better about being gone—and make your homecoming all the sweeter!

How Long Can You Leave a Cat Alone?

Cats have a reputation for being solitary creatures, but anyone who has one knows that’s not entirely true. In fact, some cats are social butterflies who love to be kept company at all times! Cats form strong bonds with their human and animal companions and can get distressed or lonely if left alone for too long.

Of course, every cat is different. But there are some accepted guidelines for how long you can leave a cat home alone. Read on to answer the question: how long can you leave a cat alone?

Can my cat stay home alone while I’m at work?

Many people choose to have a pet cat instead of a dog because cats are known for being more low-maintenance. And in regards to staying home alone during the day, it’s true: cats can be alone for longer than dogs. After all, their bathroom is indoors, so they don’t need someone to take them out for a walk!

In general, adult cats are content being left home alone for 8-12 hours. But cats can get bored and lonely even in a short period of time. One way to help? Entertainment! When you go out for the day, leave some safe toys and enrichment activities for them to play with. You could even leave the radio or tv on a soothing station at low volume.

Can I leave my cat alone overnight?

In general, vets say it’s okay to leave your cat alone for up to 24 hours at a time. As long as they have a clean litterbox, access to fresh water, and a full meal before you go, they should be fine for a day. Any longer than that, though, is pushing it.

If you’re going to be gone for more than one night, arrange for a friend or pet sitter to visit your cat, scoop the litterbox, and refresh the food and water bowls. Think of it this way: would you want to be stuck in a room with stale food, dirty water, and a clogged-up toilet? I sure wouldn’t. And it’s not fair to put my cat through that, either.

Even more worrisome than messes is the possibility of a sudden illness or injury. Cats can get themselves into jams; just consider the mischief they cause when you’re home to supervise! And a sudden illness or condition like urinary blockages can become serious quickly (source).

Age makes a difference

Kittens and senior cats are vulnerable and may need some extra care when you leave them alone.

Kittens age 3-6 months generally need three feedings per day, every 4-6 hours or so. In addition, kittens are awfully curious and may try to climb up the curtains or eat something they shouldn’t while you’re away. You can set them up in a kitten-proof room, but it’s also a good idea to have someone check on them during the day.

As for older cats, they can be extra-sensitive to changes in routine. Stress can turn to illness in an older kitty. In addition, senior cats may need extra feedings or medication during the day. For these reasons, senior cats should not be left alone overnight.

Help your cat stay busy while you’re away.

If you’re going to leave your cat alone for more than a few hours, you can set them up for success while you’re gone. Feed them a meal shortly before you leave, and refresh their water bowl before you walk out the door. Finally, leave them with a clean litterbox.

Oh, and don’t forget the entertainment! One way to ease cats’ time home alone is with toys, scratchers, and other forms of enrichment to keep them busy. “Play-alone” toys like fluffy balls, crinkle/crackle balls, and catnip mice provide fun and distraction when you’re gone. You can also leave the TV on low volume with a nature program running.

If your cat is extra-curious or mischievous, set up a “cat-safe” space for them to hang out in while you’re away. Bathrooms and laundry rooms make great cat rooms, too. Set them up with a litterbox, food, water, and enough toys to keep them busy until you get home.

How pet sitters can help

As mentioned, it’s okay to leave your cat alone for part or all of one day. But it’s smart to prepare for delays and emergencies. What if there’s a snowstorm, or your car breaks down, or something else prevents you from making it home in time for your cat’s evening meal? Even if you plan to be home for your cat, plans can change.

The truth is, even the most solitary cats need someone to check in on them once a day. A reliable pet sitter can give your cat the care they’re accustomed to while you’re gone. For some cats, a quick stop-in to scoop the litterbox and refresh the food and water bowls is enough. Other cats may benefit from a longer visit with a play session and plenty of pets.

Whatever level of care needed, a professional Rover sitter can help. You can have someone watch them at your home or board them at the sitter’s house. Or, you can ask a friend to fill in. The important thing is that your cat has someone looking after them until you get home.

Further Reading

Dog Calming Treats: Do They Really Work? A Complete Guide

CARING FOR YOUR DOG | By Chelsea Alvarez

Dog Calming Treats: Do They Really Work? A Complete Guide

  •  This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.
  •  Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

Table of Contents

Just like people, our pets can develop anxiety, too (and some are naturally more disposed to the condition than others). But dealing with your dog’s anxiety is another issue, and understanding the factors contributing to your pet’s anxiety can help you determine the best approach to helping her.

A range of treatments are available—from prescription medication to just spending more time with your dog—but this post takes a closer look at the popular, over-the-counter option of calming treats. Are they effective? How do they work? What dogs might benefit from them? Read on for more information about dog anxiety, calming treats, and our list of recommended calming treat brands.

What Is Anxiety in Dogs?

Dog anxiety is a natural fear response gone slightly haywire. The fight/flight/freeze reaction is a healthy and necessary survival tool that is activated in response to a real threat, but anxiety occurs when this reaction takes place in anticipation of something that can’t do actual harm (such as thunder, fireworks, sudden loud noises, a new environment, or even visual stimuli like hats and umbrellas). Pets can develop anxiety for a number of reasons, “from puppy socialization issues and age-related health conditions like dementia to traumatic experiences or genetics,” according to PetMD.

Other sources of anxiety in dogs include aging, and one of the most common forms of stress in dogs, separation anxiety. The American Kennel Club writes that age-related anxiety is “similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in humans…[when] memory, learning, perception, and awareness start to decline.”

Separation anxiety has been anecdotally linked to dogs who have spent time in shelters, have been rehomed, or have a history of abandonment; it can be triggered by a change in routine, family members joining or leaving the household, and/or simply being left alone, for any amount of time.

Dog Anxiety Symptoms

Your dog can’t use words to tell you when or why she’s feeling anxious, but her behavior will offer clues. The AKC provides this list of key indicators that your dog may be struggling with anxiety:

  • Aggression
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Destructive behavior
  • Depression
  • Excessive barking
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors

There are instances where you may be able to easily find and treat the cause of your dog’s anxiety (when you might consider approaches such as situation avoidance, regular exercise and stimulation, and/or behavioral or obedience training), but in some cases, your dog’s anxiety may be totally out of your control (cue the 4th of July fireworks). In those times, you may want to seek out an alternative remedy—which brings us to calming treats.

IMAGE BY STOCKSNAP FROM PIXABAY

What Are Calming Treats?

Using herbs and vitamins as their active ingredients, calming treats are a non-medicinal anxiety-treating remedy you can offer your dog to help soothe her symptoms. Also called calming chews or calming bites, they fall under the category of nutraceuticals, and are similar to nutritional supplements for humans (and are loosely regulated in the same manner). Dr. Erin Perotti-Orcutt, DVM at Four Paws Veterinary Center in Seattle, Washington, says using a common-sense filter and reading the fine print is a good strategy when considering one.

“There are certainly some good ones, but there isn’t much regulation around nutraceutical products so [manufacturers] can make a lot of unfounded claims,” she says.

For example, even though a calming treat may contain chamomile, “a dog would not eat chamomile in the wild,” Dr. Perotti-Orcutt explains. Dogs are carnivores by nature and while there’s no indication that these herbs are harmful to pets, calming treats that contain them generally lack evidence that supports the idea that animals will react to them the same way humans do.

The same goes for other herbal ingredients in calming treats such as lavender or ginger, which have long been recognized as relaxing for humans, but which haven’t been extensively tested for animal use.

More active ingredients commonly found in calming treats such as tryptophan or melatonin have more documented calming effects. Other ingredients such as the amino acid L-Theanine (also known as Suntheanine), is thought to work by increasing your dog’s serotonin and dopamine levels, and probiotics, which are thought to promote digestive health in addition to supporting a positive mental state and help with dogs who tend to get diarrhea when stressed.

So, should you try calming treats? Dr. Perotti-Orcutt says it’s something that should be “definitely in the toolbox,” adding a multimodal approach that includes pheromones, pressure wraps, and puzzle toys is the optimal way to go for non-medicinal home remedies.

Best Calming Treats for Dogs

Vet’s Best Comfort Calming Soft Chews

Jeanette, a dog owner in Seattle, told me that she observed great results after giving her two rescue dogs these treats to help “ease morning walks, for general anxiety, aggression, and to help focus.”

Amazon reviewers generally indicate this product helps promote calmness and soothe over-reactivity.Buy Now on Amazon for $9.20

maxxicalm Natural Calming Aid for Dogs 

Praised by reviewers for soothing dogs with storm sensitivity and for helping calm rescue dogs transitioning to their forever home, maxxicalm is a B vitamin and L-Theanine supplement, bolstered with chamomile.Buy Now on Amazon for $31.47

VetriScience Calming Treats for Dog Anxiety Relief

This sedative-free, L-theanine supplement has an appealing chicken flavor and claims to help keep dogs calm for up to four hours.Buy Now on Amazon for $14

NaturVet Calming Treats for Dogs

Specially formulated with Thiamin, L-Tryptophan, Melatonin, and ginger, these soft chews taste like a treat and are said to help promote normal nervous system function and facilitate a calm, restful state.Buy Now on Amazon for $12.99

Calming Treat Alternatives

For dogs who might reject the taste or texture of a calming chew, are too nervous to eat, or are not treat-driven, consider one of these alternatives to calming treats.

Pheromones

Mimicking the chemicals released by nursing pet mothers, pheromones are a home remedy used for occasional pet anxiety and stress. Available as plug-in room diffusers, a spray (for bedding, near food bowls, etc.), or a collar, pheromones emit a strong, soothing scent easily detected by pets (and barely detectable to humans).

ThunderEase Dog Calming Pheromone Diffuser Kit

Popular pet brands Adaptil and Thunderworks teamed up on this plug-in, 30-day pheromone diffuser, said to cover rooms up to 700 square feet, for situations when your dog might be more anxious, such as when unfamiliar guests come to visit, or you are introducing new pets into your home.Buy Now on Amazon for $21.95

Sentry Calming Collar for Dogs

Those calming pheromones are now with your dog wherever she goes, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety and comfort her in all situations.Buy Now on Amazon for $27.50

ThunderShirts

The ThunderShirt is a pressure wrap for anxious dogs that was designed to have a calming effect by approximating the feeling of a hug. They’re a  popular, drug-free option for addressing a dog’s anxiety, especially when calming treats don’t seem to work.

ThunderShirt Classic Dog Anxiety Jacket

The original ThunderShirt comes in a charcoal gray color and fits dogs of all sizes and shapes. See here for a sizing chart.Buy Now on Amazon for $39.95

Distraction and Puzzle Toys

When your dog’s anxiety is due to a loud event (such as a thunderstorm or fireworks), you can try to create a space in your home that offers a distraction. Using a white noise machine in a quiet room with the blinds drawn—perhaps even a crate with a blanket laid over it—might help. Adding a puzzle toy to mentally engage your dog and help divert her attention from the distressing noise could also help.

Smart Dog Puzzle Toys for Beginners

Reduce boredom and stress with this colorful, interactive toy designed to capture your dog’s attention and stimulate her problem-solving skills.Buy Now on Amazon for $16.70

Further Reading

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Chelsea Alvarez

Chelsea Alvarez

Chelsea Alvarez is a professional writer, content lead, and pet-loving, garden-growing creative manager in Seattle.

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Why Do Dogs Roll on Stinky Things?

BONDING WITH YOUR DOG | By Elisabeth Geier

Why Do Dogs Roll on Stinky Things?

  •  This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.

Table of Contents

I once had a foster dog named Hank who rolled in anything he could get his fur on. Stinky garbage in the alley, a mystery puddle in the street, something dead on the beach…the worst was the time he went in on a fresh pile of you-know-what deposited by my dog Ralph. What could possess a dog to roll in that?!

If you have a dog that rolls in stinky things, you know how baffling it can be. Read on to learn theories as to why dogs roll on smelly stuff (and what you can do to stop the stink).

Theory One: Scent Cover-Up

One theory about why dogs roll in smelly things is that it’s an instinctual hold-over from back when they hunted for food. The idea is that wild dogs may have rolled in heavily-scented stuff to mask their scent so they could sneak up on prey.

For example, a wolf hunting antelope might roll in antelope dung. An antelope would run away if they smelled a wild dog among them, but they wouldn’t think twice about a familiar poop smell.

It’s a documented fact that wolves sometimes roll in animal carcasses or animal dung to cover up their scent, so this theory is based in some truth. However, leading animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell thinks it’s a bit of a reach. First, most prey animals are highly visual, depending more on their eyes than their noses to alert them to predators.

Second, this theory doesn’t explain why dogs roll in stinky stuff that isn’t related to hunting. It’s unlikely rolling in dead fish on the beach would help your dog catch any kind of prey!

Theory Two: Scent Messages

Another theory: dogs roll in stinky stuff as a means of communication. Again, back before dogs were domesticated, they traveled in packs. Some people believe that rolling in something stinky was a way of “telling” their pack mates where they’d been and what they’d seen (and smelled).

Wolves have been observed “sharing” scents in this manner. McConnell relates the story of a wolf researcher who experimented with various scents in a wolf enclosure. When a wolf rolled in something stinky, other wolves followed the scent back to its origin after smelling it on the fur of the roller.

The “scents as communication” theory isn’t unprecedented in the animal kingdom. In fact, bees carry information about food sources back to their hive! So why not dogs? It’s possible that scent-rolling is a way of gathering information to share with other dogs.

However, domesticated dogs don’t tend to travel in packs, so this isn’t the only explanation.

Theory Three: Scent Show-Off

Beyond communicating the location of stinky things, dogs might roll in strong smells simply to show off their strong smell! As McConnell points out, “behavioral ecology reminds us that much of animal behavior is related to coping with limited resources, from food to mates to good nesting sites.” A strong, appealing scent is an advertisement of resources.

You can compare it to why some people wear designer clothes or fancy perfume. It makes a strong impression on people you meet, showing them that you have access to particular resources. Smell might function in a similar way for dogs.

Unfortunately, dogs prefer stuff that smells, well, bad. But keep in mind, their perception of “bad” is different from ours. Dogs choose dirty, rotten, stinky smells because those are the smells that appeal to their doggy natures.

Theory Four: Stinky Stuff is Fun!

Regardless of its evolutionary, instinctual origin, the simple truth is that dogs just love smells! Maybe they’re hard-wired to share information via smell; maybe something in their DNA is coded to cover up their scent with the scent of potential prey. Or maybe, just maybe, dogs simply enjoy strong smells.

Think about how important smell is to your dog. They jam their noses into the most scent-filled areas possible and can sniff out tasty morsels under several layers of clothes. Dogs have 300 million olfactory receptor cells in their noses.

By comparison, humans only have just 5 million olfactory receptor cells, making your dog’s sense of smell 60 times more powerful than your own! If you could smell that well, wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with the smells you like best?

Click here to learn more about the incredible dog nose. We also recommend this book by well-known researcher Alexandra Horowitz, which is both a fun and informative read for dog lovers.

How to Fight the Stink

If your dog rolls in smelly stuff, you’re probably familiar with good bathing practices. But here are some extra tips to take the stink off your dog:

Whether it’s for function or just for fun, dogs are going to roll in smelly stuff. The important thing is to remember that it’s completely normal behavior. The best solution to your dog rolling in smelly stuff is to avoid smelly stuff as much as possible.

But as a dog person, you have to accept that sometimes, bad smells are gonna happen. Thank goodness you have a sense of humor!SHARETWEETPIN IT

Elisabeth Geier

Elisabeth Geier is a writer, teacher, and animal advocate with extensive animal handling experience and a soft spot for bully breeds and big orange tabbies.

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