PetSafe Pet Author
Dr. Meredith Stepita, DVM, DACVB
Dr. Meredith Stepita grew up in Maryland, but now calls Northern California home. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee in 2006. After completing an internship and working in general practice in Arizona she entered into the Clinical Veterinary Behavior Residency Program at the University of California-Davis, becoming a board-certified veterinary behaviorist in 2011.
She is the owner of Veterinary Behavior Specialists and spends most of her time in the San Francisco Bay Area helping pet owners improve their pet's behavior problems.
Her research involves the frequency of parvovirus in puppies attending puppy socialization classes, finding that vaccinated puppies attending these classes were no more likely to be diagnosed with parvovirus than those not attending these classes. She has authored chapters on dog aggression, cat anxiety, house soiling in cats, and mourning behavior in veterinary texts, and is a local and national speaker.
Dr. Stepita’s areas of interest include canine and feline anxiety and aggression, the human-animal bond, and animal welfare. She shares her life with her husband Chris, and their dogs (Chewy and Snoopy), cats (Maddie, Cali, and Tarzan), and the occasional foster dog.
Articles by This Author
Learning to read cat body postures can decrease your cat's stress and may even save your cat's life.
We've all seen cats living outside that look just like our pet cats. Some of these cats may have owners, but others are what we started calling feral long ago. Feral cats are the same domestic cats that live in our homes, but they aren't socialized to humans or have lost that socialization over time by either being born outdoors or abandoned. Wondering how to tell if a cat is feral and what you can do to help her?
You are probably like many dog lovers and consider walking your dog part of your daily routine. Watch out for these potential hazards you may encounter while walking your dog to help keep you and your four-legged friend safe.
Dog barking can be a big headache and major nuisance. In some areas you can even be fined for your dog barking excessively and disrupting your neighbors. To successfully keep your pooch calm and collected, you first need to understand why he's barking. Try these training methods to help your dog learn he doesn't need to bark so often.
Dogs with separation anxiety panic when left alone. Common signs include going to the bathroom in the house, destruction, barking, whining, howling, and even hurting themselves. Once diagnosed, treatment with extensive behavior modification and sometimes anti-anxiety medications can lead to successful management of the problem. When separation anxiety is severe, be prepared for treatment to take many months.
Many dogs are motivated by food, and many enrichment toys keep your dog's interest by dispensing food if he manipulates the toy in just the right way. Some dogs will even choose a food dispensing toy over food placed directly into their bowl! But where to start? There are so many food toys these days. It will take some trial and error to figure out which toy is best for your dog.
Does your dog follow you around the house after you get home? Do you see signs of destruction or attempted escape by the door or windows? About 15% of dogs have separation anxiety. Separation anxiety in dogs is actually a phobia, an extreme or irrational fear, in which dogs panic when left alone. There are many reasons dogs can display signs of separation anxiety that are not really due to separation anxiety, and correct diagnosis is important for appropriate treatment. Read on to discover the symptoms and how to rule out other factors.
What do you do when you have a scaredy cat? Not just a cat who's afraid sometimes, but a cat who's always stressed out? Many things we take for granted often scare our pets, like fireworks, bumpy car rides, and strangers visiting. Your cat may show her stress in subtle ways, so it's important to learn to read cat body language. Once you identify what stresses your cat, the first step is to avoid these triggers as much as possible and then find ways to associate those scary things with more positive rewards.
Indoor cats have a very relaxing life, but just because your cat lives indoors doesn't mean that her life has to be dull and boring. Providing mental stimulation and physical exercise helps combat boredom, decrease stress, and improve quality of life in pet cats as well as pets in the shelter. Think of it as the feline version of Sudoku.
What is your dog trying to tell you when you reach for his head and he leans away or pulls his ears back?
Do you know if your dog is happy or nervous when his ears are back? Is a yawning dog tired or anxious? Get some pointers that will help you read your dog's body postures and understand what he’s trying to tell you.