Let’s Talk About Animal Body Language

Common Pet Toxins You May Not Know About

Let’s talk about animal body language! Ursula said it best when she said “don’t underestimate the importance of bOdY lAnGuAgE” (please tell me you remember that scene?!)

Seriously though, while animals can’t communicate verbally with us, they can say a whole lot with their body; we just have to know what to look for!

Here are a few common feelings and how to know when your pet is experiencing them!


Scared / Fearful
Cowering, tail tucked, whale eyes, ears back, showing teeth, hackles raised

Stressed or Anxious
Yawning, panting, pacing, shaking, low tail

Bowing (front legs bent on the ground with, tail end in the air), loose body and wiggling, ears up, tail up and wagging


Trying to appear small, dilated pupils, arched back, tail up and rigid, ears pinned back and flat

Flicking ears back and forth, hissing, crouching

Pouncing, ears pointing forward

Happy / Relaxed
Loose body, sliver-shaped pupils, exposing their belly, “making biscuits” or kneading

Keep in mind that context is EVERYTHING! If a dog just finished a walk and is panting, they are just tired and probably not stressed. If it’s early in the morning and a dog is just waking up and they happen to yawn, they are more than likely not stressed, just sleepy!

Be sure to always read the situation around the animal. Animals are complex and have many emotions just like humans. Be patient and remember all animals are different. Learning a particular animal’s feelings may take time!

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Why I Foster…

We started fostering after our personal pets all passed as we hope to travel extensively. Fostering fills the void when we are home and our goal is to fill them with love before their journey. It’s always hard to let go but the posts from other fosters make you know that you are not alone. Plus, there’s always another to help. RPM has made such a difference for Houston area animals. I always feel supported and heard.”


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