A Veterinarian Answers All of Your Questions About Your Pet’s Behavior

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At one point or another, every pet owner has wished their pet could talk to them—both to find out if the voice you use for them fits and to figure out why they do some of their oddest behaviors. Instead, we rely on experts like veterinarians who understand each animal’s quirks. To answer your questions about your pet’s behavior, we’ve teamed up with Hill’s Pet Nutrition and veterinarian Dr. Kristin Wuellner. Keep reading to see Dr. Wuellner’s answers to our user-submitted questions:

Every pet parent has a long list of questions about their furball, including how to keep them happy and healthy! Hill’s provides science-backed nutrition to help your best friend be their best self. See how Hill’s science-backed nutrition can give your best friend their best life.

My dog is aggressive with her food around other dogs. What is the best approach in handling this?

Food aggression is common and can lead to potentially dangerous situations. I strongly recommend talking to your veterinarian and working with a veterinary behaviorist to help get this behavior under control. In the meantime, make sure you're separating all pets during meal time to help avoid any escalations.

My son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first child in March. They have a mixed breed five-year-old, 66 pound dog. What should they do to prepare him for the new arrival? He has some anxiety, but it is usually brought on by seeing other dogs. His behavior around children has been good.

Welcoming a new baby into the house is an exciting time for any family, dogs included! It's important to make the introductions slow—keep the dog on a leash and gradually allow them to get closer if both parties appear calm. Even after a successful introduction, always ensure that all interactions are supervised. I strongly recommend talking to your veterinarian to see if a more customized introduction plan is needed.

We have taken in a skittish three-year-old, rehomed Sheltie as a companion to our 18-month-old Sheltie. Lately this new addition to our family goes down our back stairs at night in the dark and howls. What does that howl mean? When I howl back, he comes running up the steps to find me.

Dogs howl and vocalize for many reasons, including anxiety. However, it sounds like this new addition may be exhibiting other anxious behaviors so I'd recommend talking to your veterinarian about a personalized behavior plan for your pet.

What is the best way to introduce a kitten to an older dog?

Slow and supervised. Start by keeping them in separate rooms where they can smell and hear each other through the door. If that goes well, move them into the same room, keeping the kitten in their crate and the dog under control on a leash to allow them to interact closer. If things are still going well, allow the kitten to leave the crate at their comfort level with the dog still on the leash. Use your discretion when they no longer need to be restrained, but continue to keep them completely supervised until they're doing well together.

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