Articles


Here at Happy Tails online magazine, we focus on the all things that make for happy animals. Find answers to your questions about health and behavioural issues, enjoy our feature and health related articles and take heed of professional advice so that you and your pet can be happy together - forever.

Photo by www.tamedandframed.co.za / Natalie Brink and her lovely family


Let’s get over the idea that older dogs can’t learn new tricks. They can. We’re not talking about balancing a ball on the end of his nose (although that can be done) but about enriching both your lives through activities you enjoy together. ...read more
 

This everyday phrase takes on a new meaning for pet lovers. Welcome to the world of Tellington TTouch® What is Tellington TTouch®? This is a gentle and positive way to help animals and humans to relax, to manage environmental stress, increase body awareness and promote healing. ...read more
 

Have you ever slipped your pooch a bite or two off your plate? Dished up turkey with all the trimmings so that they can celebrate too? Sprinkled leftover fish fingers over kitty’s pellets? Topped up their bowls with scraps from the kids’ plates? Many of us have… and then felt guilty or worried afterwards. ...read more
 

Dogs became domesticated thousands of years ago, creating a mutually beneficial relationship, but we need to remember that they are a different species, have different needs, ‘speak’ a different language, and behave in a different way to us. We need to respect that in order to keep our families – and our pets – safe. ...read more
 

Adopting an adult cat is like inviting a friend to move in with you. The relationship is an equal partnership based on trust, co-operation and understanding, and compensating for each other’s differences, strengths and weaknesses. ...read more
 

Every animal deserves to be looked after well, including their health. This means regular check-ups, dental care, vaccinations, parasite treatment, and sterilisation, as well as getting prompt treatment if they are ill or are injured. Bottom line: if you have a pet, you need a vet. ...read more
 


“To see a dog flourish and bloom into a loving, trusting and trustworthy companion is life-defining. There is nothing better than knowing that you are worthy of his or her love and devotion; you have truly earned their adoration and respect.” Adopting adult or senior pets from animal shelters is a truly wonderful thing to do. It’s also easier than you may think… ...read more
 

I first met “Vesper the Brave” one sunny day at Woodrock Animal Rescue Centre, near Johannesburg. This little black-and-tan mite never lacked attention and she was absolutely adorable. She was also paralysed in her hind legs… ...read more
 

You researched, discussed, planned, and picked the perfect pet. But what happens once you bring them home? Will they settle in without a hitch? And what if they don’t? How can you ease their way? When is it time to call in help? Our guide will help you get things off to a great start. ...read more
 

Does your pet waddle when he walks or have a bulging belly that sways from side to side? Are her ribs buried under so many wobbles that you can’t feel them when you stroke her? Puffs and pants when you head out for a walk? Then, chances are you have an overweight or obese pet. ...read more
 

Parrots are beautiful birds and can be fun, talkative household companions who entertain us with their antics. But, in order to live happily ever after, doing your homework is crucial... ...read more
 

True or false: black cats are bad luck? True… if you’re a black cat. Sadly, this kind of myth is responsible for thousands of these beauties being last on the list of adoptions, along with tortoiseshell, calico, and senior felines who also fall prey to myths and perceptions. ...read more
 

You’re just leaving the shopping mall when you glimpse a graceful feline form slinking between the parked cars towards some dumpsters. You stop and see a small cat crouched in the shadows, watching you with huge, wild-looking eyes. Wanting a closer look, you approach but, with a flick of its elegant tail, the feral cat is gone before you can even blink. ...read more
 

There’s nothing like an animal’s companionship to lift the spirits. They are non-judgemental, accepting, and their love is unconditional. They can help us immeasurably when we’re ill, be it physically or mentally. That’s why they’re increasingly forming an important part of healing treatment for people of all ages: Animal-assisted Therapy. ...read more
 

When mild-mannered journalist Clark Kent (aka Superman) dashes into a handy phone booth and we spot that flash of blue and red, we all know a superhero is on his way. But did you know that real superheroes walk among us? What lies beneath their everyday appearance isn’t a cape or costume; it is a heart big and strong enough to save – and love – many. ...read more
 


With low-carbohydrate and Banting diets gaining popularity, xylitol has become popular as a sugar substitute. This has resulted in an increase in the incidence of cases of xylitol toxicity in dogs. ...read more
 

Dogs need their nails trimmed on a regular basis. As with our own nails, left too long, they can break or even curl into the dog’s pads (or with dew claws, into the leg.) Over-long nails can also affect the gait, causing an imbalance that can affect the skeletal structure and cause health problems. ...read more
 

Running is a sport that can be done year-round and enjoyed by young and old alike. Many enjoy it so much that they do end up running every day. However, if you are like me, it’s not always possible to get in those regular runs – my best friend is very demanding, not to mention her smelly breath and flatulence, and insists on going for hour-long walks at least three times per week. ...read more
 

Animal lovers know that if you truly love your pets – and care about animals everywhere – you will have them sterilised. Aside from the massive animal overpopulation crisis, known to lead to neglect and abuse, there are many diseases, some life threatening, which you can avoid or completely prevent simply by having them spayed or neutered. ...read more
 

Submissive and excited urination are an involuntary loss of bladder control caused by various environmental triggers. While puppies under the age of 12 weeks have limited bladder muscle development and may lose control, this usually stops as the puppy develops. If it doesn’t, there could be more to the situation… ...read more
 

Every pet lover knows that at some stage it is likely that this deep and wonderful bond will be challenged by the unimaginable sense of loss. We express our love by doing the very best we can for our pets. Letting go, for whatever reason, is a part of that love. ...read more
 

As humans, we are familiar with the concepts of anxiety and stress. They are related, but somewhat different in their origins and treatment. Anxiety is generally seen as an unpleasant emotional state, including feelings of uneasiness, apprehension, and distress. Stress, on the other hand, is caused by specific external circumstances such as problems at work, family and financial conditions. How we deal with stress varies with the intensity of our reaction to stressful incidents and our innate or learned coping skills. ...read more
 

Epilepsy or, more correctly, Idiopathic Epilepsy, is a term used to describe a condition of abnormal electrical activity in the brain which causes seizures or convulsions. A seizure is an episode of involuntary muscle contractions of the body’s voluntary muscles (the major muscles responsible for walking and other normal movement). Typical signs involve altered consciousness, collapse with stiffening of the muscles, and paddling movements of the legs; this is usually transient. Any convulsions that do not cease require immediate veterinary attention. ...read more
 

Fleas and ticks are probably the worst among the various parasites that affect our pets’ well-being. ...read more
 

Dogs and cats use marking as a way of communicating with other animals – when they pee or defecate, pheromones are released that are their ‘profile’ in animal terms. It’s natural, but of course when it happens in the house, it is a behaviour we want to change! ...read more
 

Puppies are adorable. Puppies are bouncy. Puppies are love and joy personified. Indeed, puppies are many wonderful things – but one thing they usually are not is predictable, especially in what size they’ll be when they’re grown up, particularly if they’re mixed breeds. ...read more
 

The myth that deaf dogs can’t learn, or are more aggressive than other dogs is simply not true. While they may require more patience with training, and have a few limitations that require management, the bond they form with their owner is often strongly developed and they can lead happy and fulfilled lives. Some dogs are born deaf, others may have compromised hearing and some lose their hearing with ...read more
 


My tabby cat, Trigger, is 12 years old and has gingivitis. I know this could be from an underlying cause, such as Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) but, thankfully in his case, he isn’t positive for these. ...read more
 

Our new Labrador puppy, Aslan, chews stones almost continuously – actually, he chews just about everything his mouth touches, but mostly stones. Is this because he’s lacking something in his diet? ...read more
 

We adopted a puppy from a rescue organisation earlier this year and although she is due for her last puppy vaccination soon, we would like to know more about the vaccination regime going forwards. ...read more
 

Please help! I really love my rescue dog, Roger, an Africanis-mix. As an adopted adult dog, he has settled down wonderfully and I can’t fault him on anything. Our challenge, however, is that when I come home from work, he is so excited that he jumps up – and doesn’t stop. ...read more
 

My 11-year-old German Shepherd-Canadian Wolf Dog, Balto, has been struggling with bouts of runny tummy, and there have been traces of blood in his stool. He is prone to eating sticks and pine cones from the garden, which also can’t be helping matters. He has been diagnosed as suffering from Colitis... ...read more
 

My 6-month-old Beagle puppy, Boots, eats his own poop – and any other that he finds on walks. It’s really unpleasant as his breath stinks, and I’d love to have cuddle kisses with him but that’s obviously a no-no. What can I do to help him? ...read more
 

I’d like to adopt a puppy, but apparently she has mange, which is being treated at the shelter. They say there will be some after-care required. I would like to give her the best possible care but am uncertain what this involves. What causes mange, and is it contagious to my other animals? And could the mange return? ...read more
 

We recently adopted a young adult Yorkie; she has settled in well and we love her dearly. However, the problem with her is that she fiercely guards her food and becomes quite aggressive if any of our other animals or my husband and I go anywhere near while she’s eating. We’re not sure what the best way is to handle this behaviour and really need your advice. Please help. ...read more
 

I recently adopted four little rescued feral kittens who were posted on Facebook as looking for Forever Homes – possibly to be homed together. Having been saved from a shopping centre roof, my heart just melted and I immediately offered them a home. While travel arrangements were kindly being made to get them to me, they developed snuffles, but were fortunately successfully treated by their vet. ...read more
 

I’m afraid of dogs but would like to get one for my kids, who adore animals – how do I get over this? ...read more
 

I recently adopted a Terrier-cross from our local animal shelter. She promptly stole my heart and settled in wonderfully. She’s an independent little dog with lots of confidence. Although she was a little dominant in her previous home, which I was worried about, she quickly found a balance with my two other rescues with whom she now shares her life with. The only problem is that she cries terribly every morning when I leave for work ...read more
 

We noticed recently that our adopted 10-year-old Border Collie limps if she plays too hard or goes on long walks. After a thorough vet check, she has been diagnosed with arthritis; fortunately, her health is otherwise excellent – it seems this is due to her age. As advised by our vet, she takes arthritis supplements, and we’re looking into moving her onto a joint-specific dog food which our vet recommended. She really loves her walks and playtime,... ...read more