6 min read

5 'Nice' Things You Do To Your Pet That Actually Aren't So Nice

<p>(<a class="checked-link" href="https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/nguyenhoangnam1142002/2518915940/">Flickr/nguyen hoangnam</a>)</p>

It's hard to look at your cat or dog and not want to grab him and snuggle all evening long. While it's great to show your little friend affection, sometimes it can be too much. Before you wrap your arms around your pet, remember these important things that, while seemingly innocent, might not be the best thing for your best friend.

1. Hugging him too tightly (Flickr/Dizão Gonçalves)

With their reputation for being cool and aloof, cats aren't exactly known for their love of cuddling. But it might surprise you to know that some dogs aren't fans of being hugged either. Well-intentioned as your hugs may be, they might be restricting movement and causing your pet unnecessary anxiety. In one study to determine the causes of dog bites, it was found that "benign" interactions such as hugging and petting were responsible for nearly 18 percent of attacks. The ASPCA offers tons of helpful tips on how children should show affection and avoid bites from dogs, but the advice works well for adults, too.

2. Staring him down (Flickr/Franci Pavlin)

There's something about the way an animal stares up at you with those big loving eyes that can just draw you right in. But believe it or not, holding eye contact with your cat or dog actually signals aggression and may make him feel threatened. Since animals communicate primarily through body language, they use their eyes to express many emotions, like fear and submission. When you see them staring at each other for long periods of time, it means they're about to tussle.

3. Feeding her scraps (Flickr/cheriejoyful)

It can be hard to figure out which foods are safe to feed our furry friends and which aren't. It's particularly difficult when movies and commercials recklessly portray harmful myths, like milk being good for cats. It's not. Cats and dogs don't produce enough lactase, making them essentially lactose-intolerant. But that's only one of many human foods that cause harm to pets. Others include garlic, raw bones, onions and grapes.

4. Petting her the wrong way(Flickr/allygirl520)

Have you ever noticed that when you try to give your cat a little rub on the belly, the claws come out and he might try to bat your hands away? That's because cats, thanks to their small size, have to be incredibly protective of their bellies. The belly is one of the most vulnerable parts of a cat's body and is home to her most vital organs, so she'll become naturally defensive if you try to touch her there.

5. Over-grooming him (Flickr/DaveJamesMiller)

Brushing your pet's fur can be a relaxing experience for him, but overdoing it can be dangerous. It's important to use a brush with bristles that are soft enough that they won't scratch the skin. Even then, brushing more than once a week can cause skin irritation. The same goes with bathing your dog. Overdoing it can cause his skin to become flaky or lose essential oils that keep him healthy. Always check with your vet and follow her advice when it comes to how often you should bathe your dog - each breed is different.