Do Dogs Have a Sense of Self?

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We like to think that dogs have many attributes similar to our own; they’re quick to make friends, they enjoy a day of cuddling and they have unique personalities. But do they have a sense of self the way we do? Recent studies have taken a closer look at canine self-awareness. This is what they found…

To understand a dog’s concept of self, it’s important to consider how they perceive the world around them. For example, we understand the world visually, whereas dogs understand the world through smell. When it comes to self-awareness, we can look in a mirror and understand that we are looking at ourselves, whereas dogs might not make that connection.

Keeping this in mind, Alexandra Horowitz, author of ‘Inside of a Dog,’ was curious to see how she might be able to learn more about our furry friend’s self-awareness through smell. To do so, she devised a study in which 36 dogs were presented with two canisters; one with a drop of each dog’s urine, and the other with the drop of urine, plus an additional, foreign scent. Across the board, the dogs spent more time smelling the modified canister, suggesting that the dogs were more interested in the smell that they didn’t recognize as their own. Could this mean they have an understanding of themselves in the same way that we recognize ourselves in the mirror? When taking the study further and separating the altered urine with the foreign scent (in this case, anise oil), the dogs continued to sniff the modified urine longer than the anise oil on its own.

So, what does this mean in terms of dog’s awareness of self? It’s hard to know for sure. “I’d say that they have a rudimentary theory of mind,” says Horowitz, “One that’s not equivalent to a human adult, but that isn’t absence of thinking about one’s self and others.”

While we have yet to know exactly what goes on in our furry pal’s minds, we could spend hours contemplating. After all, they are fascinating animals, with a unique closeness and bond to humans. Sometimes, we’re convinced they’re even more like us than we realize.

What do you think? Do you think dogs have a sense of self? Let us know in the comments!

6 Ways We Are Grateful for Our Pets


We usually use the blog as a way to answer your questions and share all sorts of tidbits and fun facts about the furry creatures in our lives. Today, though, we wanted to do something a little different and raise our glass to our pets – big and small, old and young, they bring us so much joy every year, and it’s worth celebrating! Here are 6 ways we are grateful for our pets this holiday season…

  1. They remind us to take care of ourselves. Even on the days when the last thing we want to do is go for a walk, they remind us of the importance of getting fresh air and stretching our legs.
  1. They offer hours of endless entertainment – and we mean hours! Over the years of working with cats and dogs in New York and New Jersey, we are always amazed at just how entertaining these little creatures can be. There is never a boring day!
  1. They are A+ snugglers, and after a long day, a snuggle on the couch is exactly what the doctor orders (dare we say, snuggles with our pets are #1 in our book!?)
  1. They keep us curious, and help us see the world through their eyes. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of human life, but our pets remind us to stay curious and be present, whether it’s watching our cat laser-focus on a pigeon outside the window, or stopping to see the squirrels play during a dog walk.
  1. They teach us valuable lessons about ourselves. Owning a pet can be challenging, but it can also be a wonderful learning experience. Since our pets so often look to us for cues on how to behave, we are reminded to be aware of our own behavior. They keep us on our toes!
  1. Lastly, they are the world’s best foot warmers!

Happy Holidays from the Pampered Pets team, to all the animal-lovers out there!

4 Qualities to Look for in a Cat Sitter


Finding a responsible, professional sitter can be challenging. Not only are you trusting your pet sitter with your beloved four legged friend, you’re trusting them with your home, too. Plus, there are thousands to choose from these days, as more people take on dog walking, cat sitting and pet care as a side profession. Below, we’re outlining the four key qualities to look for in a cat sitter. Starting with…

TRUST. For and foremost, they must be able to prove that you can trust them (a feeling is not enough!). All pet sitters should have at least a few references readily available in your first meeting.

EXPERIENCE. With pet sitting becoming a popular side gig for many, it’s important to find one that not only has experience, but also fully understands cat behavior, and has years of experience. This means they know what to do under various circumstances, and won’t be stumped or confused by your cat’s behavior or temperament. An experienced cat sitter has seen it all.

BONDED AND INSURED. We can’t reiterate the importance of this enough! We urge you to only consider pet sitters that are licensed, bonded, and insured. Pampered Pets sitters are also trained to notice irregularities with your pet as well as with your home, so they come knowing how to appropriately assess various situations.

ATTENTIVE TO YOUR CAT’S NEEDS. A good cat sitter has an innate understanding of feline behavior; they are knowledgeable, responsible, and in tune with your cat’s needs, whether it’s extra play time, a soothing cuddle on the couch, or no attention at all – whatever the cat prefers.

What qualities are important to you in a pet sitter? Feel free to share in the comments!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Cat’s Nose


We know so much about the furry felines that keep us company day and night — from their funny ticks to their food preferences – but do you know just what makes their noses so unique? Here are 5 interesting facts…

  1. The color of a cat’s nose is directly related to the color of its fur. Colors range from pink, black, grey/blue, chocolate, and even “lavender,” and sometimes become darker with age.
  2. A kitten’s nose is fully developed by the time it’s born, so it can learn to quickly distinguish its mother’s scent and get to know the other kittens in the litter (before it even has its sight or hearing!). Chemical smells and pheromones released from the mother’s glands are thought to reduce stress in kittens and provide them with a feeling of security and safety.
  3. Appetite is stimulated through the nose. Unlike humans, cats have very few taste receptors on their tongues, so hunger is stimulated through smell rather than flavor. If they can’t smell their dinner, they won’t necessarily want it!
  4. A cat’s nose is considered to be about fourteen times stronger than that of humans. This makes them excellent scent detectors, and they use their noses to identify territories, to detect chemical signals, and to get to know other cats. This also means there are strong smells they really don’t like, including citrus, mint, and tea tree oil.
  5. Cats communicate through chemical signals that they detect through smell. It’s hard for us to imagine communicating through smell – after all, humans rely on scent far less than our furry companions – but cats use their noses daily to understand the world around them. Oftentimes, if your cat is continuously scratching or marking furniture (or more preferably, his scratching post), he is leaving his scent, or “cat perfume,” which makes him feel secure in his surroundings — and he thinks it smells quite nice!

What Do Dogs Dream About?


It’s widely understood that dogs dream. If you have a pup, you’ve inevitably witnessed an active dream of some sort, and I’ve seen it all with my furry companion, Juniper (I’m convinced she dreams about playing with her best friend, Luna, and chasing bunnies. Lots of bunnies). While we’ll never know for certain what exactly our furry pets dream about from day to day, researchers have made strides in decoding a sleeping canine’s brain. Spoiler alert – it’s not that different from our own. Here’s what we know so far…

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Q&A: What to Know About Dog Flu


It’s that time of year; with the kids back at school and germs on the rise, everyone is more susceptible to the flu, even our pets. That’s right: with a recent canine influenza outbreak in the Midwest, dog owners are concerned and asking questions. So, today we’re breaking down everything there is to know about dog flu and what we can all do to be prepared….

Q: What is canine influenza?

A: Canine influenza is a respiratory disease in dogs. There are two currently strains identified: H3N8 and H3N2. Both are considered highly contagious. Frustratingly, influenza viruses are able to change quickly and develop new strains.

Q: Where have dogs been diagnosed with the flu?

A: Dog flu was first diagnosed in Florida in 2004 and has since spread around the country. States affected with the flu include Chicago, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Montana, Louisiana, and North Carolina, among others. At the moment, canine influenza has yet to spread to New York or New Jersey, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stay vigilant and up to date on its whereabouts.

Q: How is it transmitted?

A: A dog can become infected by being in close contact with another dog with the virus, especially in kennels, dog parks, groomers, crowded sidewalks, and shelters. Again, it is highly contagious and spreads similarly to a human virus via respiratory secretions (coughing or sneezing) or by being in contact with a contaminated object like a leash or collar. The virus, while originally transmitted via horses, has only been shown to affect other dogs, and in some cases, cats.

Q: What are the symptoms, and what is the treatment?

A: A common question is whether you can tell if your dog has the flu. Yes – once exposed, an infected pup will feel under the weather and may cough, sneeze, run a fever, and have a loss of appetite. Luckily, the virus is rarely fatal. Veterinary guidance is recommended if a dog shows signs of the flu, and a vaccine is available for at-risk canines.

Have more questions? We’ve found this website about canine influenza to be very helpful and informative. If your state has been infected, we recommend taking a look at this article, which outlines prevention and control in detail. Meanwhile, we always urge pet owners to practice cleanliness and safety when it comes to petting other dogs and letting your own furry friend interact with other canines. Hoping everyone’s four-legged pals are healthy and happy!

Cats May Be More Similar To Dogs Than We Think


We tend to think of cats and dogs as being polar opposites. “I’m a cat person,” we explain when passing on the opportunity to pet a pup. But are our beloved felines and canines as different as we think? An experiment conducted in Japan suggests otherwise…

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Ways to Help Pets Impacted by Hurricane Harvey


After the wake of Hurricane Harvey, many pets have been displaced or affected, so we wanted to share ways we can all help in the aftermath. Please feel free to pass this post along to friends and family, and we encourage you to spread the word. Any help, no matter how small, makes a big difference!

The Humane Society has been deployed to Texas and is working tirelessly to rescue, transport, and rehabilitate lost pets. They are taking donations here.

Houstin SPCA and SPCA of Texas are assisting pets and people evacuate North Texas, and providing shelter for hundreds of animals. Last Friday, they rescued 123 cats from a cat shelter! Here is where you can donate.

Austin Pets Alive is currently providing shelter for more than 600 pets, and is need of crates, cat litter, bedding, and more. See the complete list here.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has a page on their website dedicated to Hurricane Harvey, including breaking news, wishlists, lost and found pets, ways to donate and ways to volunteer.

Donating is not the only way to help. If you’re in the area, consider fostering one of the animals, volunteering at a shelter, or dropping off supplies (most shelters are in need of towels/blankets, cat litter, toys, newspaper, and crates). We also recommend following a Facebook page like this one to stay up to date on how you can help.

Sending our love and best wishes to all the furry animals in need right now!

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