50 Secrets Your Pet Won’t Tell You

We asked animal behaviorists, nutritionists, veterinarians, and pet groomers to shed some light on what your furry friends would tell you if they could.

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You think my tail wagging is always an invitation for you to pet me more. Wrong!

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Italian researchers found that dogs wag their tails slightly to the right when they see something they like and to the left when they’re confronted with something they want to back away from.

You might buy any old dog-grooming brush at the pet store...

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...but you should really pick the right one for my coat. A rubber brush will promote circulation and loosen dirt. A bristle brush removes dead hair.

Your favorite cat game to play with me involves a laser pointer. The result:

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I get really frustrated because I can't catch it, and I live for the hunt. So if you're going to use a pointer, please sub in an actual toy at the end so I have something to catch and kill. It makes the game worth it. Otherwise, get your laughs from a cartoon cat in the comics.

You're giving me too much food.

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How can you tell? I don't seem motivated by food treats when you're trying to train me. Cut back, and I'll start to pay attention.

Grooming day means you bring out the big blow-dryer. Don't!

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To make dogs like me look fluffy, shake a little cornstarch into the base of the fur and then brush. It will absorb oil and grease and detangle matted fur.

Please don't rush me when I’m going to the bathroom.

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There's a reason dogs circle around before getting down to business: We have an instinct to be aligned with the earth's magnetic field before we poop. In fact, researchers watched 70 of us engage in 1,893 defecations over a two-year period just to figure this out.

You may think it's nice to let me sleep all day, but too much nap time can affect my personality.

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A lot of behavioral problems can be solved by just taking your dog on a daily walk or by playing with your cat for 20 minutes every day.

Since I'm an old dog, I get to eat whatever I want, yes? No!

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If I have arthritis, I'll be much happier if you give me a daily supplement that contains glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which protect joint cartilage. And switch me to a food formulated for an animal my age.

If you lose me...

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...the first thing you should do is call every animal shelter within 100 miles of home, and visit the nearest shelters every day if you can. Many animal control bureaus euthanize animals if they go unclaimed for a specific amount of time. (For good measure, be sure to get me a microchip when I'm young.)

If you're getting me spayed...

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...ask your vet if she can remove just my ovaries, not my uterus. A much less invasive procedure, it's the way cats and dogs are spayed in Europe, and many U.S. veterinarians have already made the switch.

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