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It's hard to stay mad at your pets, even when they're pooping on your sheets or chewing on your Mr. T action figure collection (to clean the delicious poop out of their teeth, of course). After all, your pets are just creatures of instinct. You may reprimand them, but you'd never just outright hurt them, as -- we're giving you the benefit of the doubt here -- you're not a total SOB. But you may be unwittingly engaging in behaviors that are making your pet's life a living hell.

Hugging Your Dog Pisses It Off

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One of the best things about pets is how affectionate they are. For example, Rover will just smash his face into your arm when it's petting time (which, by the way, starts now and ends seconds before the heat death of the universe). Mittens, on the other hand, instinctively knows when you're stressed from taxes, so she'll do her best to distract you by splaying her body across your keyboard, knocking those bad old spreadsheets out of sight and out of mind.

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"Your attempts at productivity will prove futile. You will be broken."

But it turns out that our understanding of pet affection may be a bit flawed. Back in 2010, an innocent-looking children's book called Smooch Your Pooch caused a stir with pet advocacy groups. This book was published to teach little kids about the proper ways to interact with their pets, and by "proper" we actually mean "absolute worst."

Yes, Smooch Your Pooch advocated such a fucktrociously backward model of pet stewardship that the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior drew up a press release regarding the book, which can be succinctly summarized as "NO NO NO NO."

It was the first book to earn this kind of condemnation since Head-Butt Your Pit Bull, He Can Take It.

You see, hugging, kissing, or getting your face too close to a dog's face is going to make that dog mad. Even the most good-natured, kid-friendly dogs are still animals, and -- like any other animal -- they can become annoyed or frightened when you smother them with claustrophobic affection. But don't tell that to the author of Smooch Your Pooch, who instructed wee ones to hug their dogs "anytime, anywhere" ...

Hand them a steak and then tear it away, dogs love that shit!

... and to feed their pups pizza, even though onions and garlic are toxic to dogs.

Because he's suicidal.
From all of that kibble.

Seriously, this book may as well have been called Smooch That Really Big Homophobic Football Player in Front of His Extremely Judgmental Peer Group.

Roll the dice, kid. You've lived long enough.

Staring at Cats Communicates Aggression

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How's this for a familiar situation: You, the sociable cat owner, are entertaining guests in your home. Everyone's sitting around, minding their own business, until the cat wanders into the room. Immediately, your friend group splits in two -- everyone who loves cats starts cooing like utter lunatics and invitingly slapping their laps, while the dog people (and the hopelessly allergic) ignore your four-legged toxoplasmosis bomb.

And then what does the cat do? It walks right past the babbling peanut gallery and starts cuddling with those stone-hearted souls who have zero interest in getting cat hair all over their crotches.

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"I just can't get comfortable without the sound of someone's lungs closing up."

What's up with that? You see, cats use extended eye contact to display aggression or dominance, whereas looking away is either submission or an invitation for affection. So does that mean you can never look at your cat again?

Of course not. If you want to look at your cat but not come off as a jerkwad, just meet its gaze and then blink very, very slowly, a gesture that reassures it that you are not a threat or competitor. You can also go that extra mile and try exchanging blinks in Morse code, but that may simply reveal that your cat has been silently swearing at you for years.

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"You are one thumb and one Glock away from a fancy feast of lead."

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Half the Food in Your Kitchen Is Pet Poison

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Animals are famous for eating just about any goddamned thing they find. If a dog happily eats cat shit it finds in the street, then it seems impossible to screw up at feeding time. Yet a few seconds of Google searching will turn up long lists of all of the seemingly harmless foods that will straight up murder Fluffy if he eats enough of them. For instance, we have previously mentioned that, contrary to what decades of Warner Bros. cartoons taught you, rabbits cannot subsist on carrots (if you didn't know that, you shouldn't feel too bad, since only 8 percent of rabbit owners do).

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Which makes this stock photo super unsettling.

All right, so what about cats? Give a stranger a kitten, and the first thing they'll do is give him a little saucer of milk. That's fine, right? Nope! Despite what virtually every facet of our culture has ever told you about cats, milk is actually super bad for them. In fact, they don't even have enough of the enzyme necessary to process the stuff, so it's not even an "in moderation" thing: They're biologically lactose intolerant.

All right, so what else have we seen cartoon cats eat, other than lasagna? Fish, right? Surely the key to a healthy feline is a nice can of tuna every day. Nope again -- while tuna isn't poisonous to them, a steady diet of it can lead to nutrient deficiencies and a dreadful (if unthreateningly named) condition known as "yellow fat disease."

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We would have gone with "Garfield Syndrome."

And if you think your cat-shit-eating dog is any less picky, think again. Vets will tell you you should never give your dog bones or raw meat (both once again in open defiance of everything cartoons have taught us), as well as other seemingly harmless things like raisins and dairy. Again, it's not like the animal is going to instantly explode the moment its tongue touches the offending substance -- the effects manifest themselves over time, in the form of allergies, constant scratching, or the ever-popular "diarrhea all over the new carpet."

Shopping at Pet Stores Causes All Sorts of Horrible Problems


What kind of sick bastard could ever be sad in a pet store? There's tons of brightly colored toys lining the walls, chipper animal-loving clerks bopping around offering advice, and domesticated fauna pawing playfully at the glass, just begging you to take them home. It's the happiest place on earth! Or at least at the mall.

It's like a prison, if prisons sold their inmates to random families.

Or at least it would be, if the animals weren't trying to escape from the sordid web of torture and murder they're trapped in.

Odds are that you're at least familiar with the existence of puppy mills and kitten factories (if not, you can read the details here, because that shit's way too dark for a comedy website). These organizations sacrifice any modicum of comfort for the animals in exchange for the maximum amount of cuddly creatures catapulted out of the womb as quickly as possible. Aside from the obvious and immediate animal abuse problems, this contributes to animal homelessness by bloating the already overwhelming unwanted pet population, since there are already way more animals in need of homes than there are homes available. But hey, this is an entry on bad pet stores. Your pet store down the street doesn't buy its animals from mills, right?

"If you believe that, we've got a farm outside the city you should check out."

No, it probably does. According to the ASPCA, 99 percent of puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills. Even that remaining 1 percent might be full of shit: When the Humane Society went undercover in Chicago and New York, they found that the majority of pet stores that claim that they don't get their animals from mills are nonetheless pretty secretive about where they procure their animals for sale.

Even Petco -- one of the biggest pet store chains in the world, which in theory should be doing everything it can to protect its own reputation -- has been heartily sued in recent years for mistreating the shit out of its animals. So yeah, nix the pet store and get your kids a bucket full of pet rocks or one of those creepy taxidermied Victorian dogs from a flea market. (Added bonus: Both of these options allow you to sidestep that awkward "Professor Paws went to another family's farm upstate" discussion entirely.)

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"Aww ... what an adorable symbol of man's callous disregard for nature."

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Supporting PETA Is a Terrible Idea

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You likely know PETA as that "activist" organization that seems more interested in raising a media brouhaha than affecting change. They're always convincing celebrities to strip naked for their posters or releasing dunderheaded Super Mario Bros. and Pokemon knockoffs in order to make labored points about perceived animal abuse in fictional video games. Sure, PETA may be naively gung-ho about animal rights, but they're not actually bad guys, right?

Nah, they seem above board.

Well ... there's the fact that PETA is, and always has been, about killing animals. In 2011, their headquarters -- an animal shelter in Norfolk, Virginia -- killed 95 percent of the animals they took under their care (a combined 1,965 cats and dogs), whereas most other shelters only euthanize about 35 percent. They kill so many animals that they were almost denied the title of "shelter" and forced to call themselves a "euthanasia clinic." (College Application Pro Tip: Don't include "euthanasia clinic" on your list of extracurriculars.)

We understand that there is a practical limit to how many animals you can help and that, for some animals, euthanasia is a tragic necessity. But it's hard to take seriously PETA's claim that they're killing animals as "an act of love" when they've been sued for taking lost pets and adoptable puppies and kittens from shelters, killing them, and then dumping their bodies in a dumpster. But hey, at least they're not in cages anymore, right?

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"No, we prefer cages to gruesome death."

Why in the pluperfect hell are they doing that? Well, their official stance on the issue of pets is that "it would have been in the animal's best interest if the institution of pet keeping [...] never existed." All breeds of animals that have specifically evolved to cohabitate with humans should not, in their view, be alive.

And just to prove that they have their own special caboose on this ethical crazy train, we should probably point out that PETA opposes a drug that is proven effective in treating cancer in humans because, like all drugs, it was first tested on animals. So PETA's fine with killing animals with they're taking up too much room in their shelters -- because that's just a harsh reality -- but you want drugs for someone in your family dying of cancer? What are you, some kind of monster?

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"Don't worry, there's still plenty of room in the dumpster."

You can follow J.F. Sargent on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook (but not all three, because that's dangerous).

For more ways you're a bad pet owner, check out 6 Well-Intentioned Ways You're Ruining Your Dog. Or learn about 6 Adorable Cat Behaviors With Shockingly Evil Explanations.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 6 Ridiculous Tumblrs That Yahoo Just Paid Too Much For.

And stop by LinkSTORM to discover why your animal is plotting to smother you in your sleep.

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