Is your pet ready for an interspecies friendship?

Think getting your cat and dog to get along is tough. How about getting your pup and pet snake to be pals? Check out what our animal expert has to say about interspecies pet friendships and find out if your pet is ready for one.

By Valerie Howes

Is your pet ready for an interspecies friendship?
©iStockphoto.com/Graffizone
There's nothing like a cute animal video on YouTube to warm the heart, especially when it shows an against-the-odds friendship.

If a crow can play soccer with a dog and a bunny can share a cushion with a cat, then there's hope for humanity, right? But before you start throwing cage doors open, find out what Dr. Julie Hebert from the Montreal Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital has to say about interspecies hangouts.

1.
 Rats and cats
In the YouTube video Rat Loves Cat, a large rodent is smitten with its ginger feline housemate, following her everywhere, climbing onto her back and snuggling up on the rug. "This kind of friendship is really more of an exception, especially when we're talking predator and prey," says Dr. Hebert. "But it can work if your cat is not a hunter, and the two meet really young."

The vet also warns that you should never leave them alone. "We often see people come in with an animal injured by another pet that has been its friend for years. One day the cat maybe wasn't feeling well and something happened," she says.

2. 
Birds and dogs
Bird Loves Dog shows a rough-and-tumble friendship between a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and a feisty Australian magpie. "We see birds and dogs getting along a little more often, but we still have to be cautious," says Dr. Hebert. Hunter breeds should never be allowed to interact with pet birds, and ideally, this kind of interaction should happen between a small dog and a bigger bird.

"I'd actually never let a dog and bird play together like they do in the video," says Dr. Hebert. "Their size is so different, and if the dog misjudges things, it could break the bird's wing or leg."

She also warns that dog saliva and excretions can be fatal to birds. "In the video we see the bird picking at the dog's nose; it could get septicemia and die within a couple of days."

Contact play should not be allowed for this reason, but Dr. Hebert says that birds often love taking snacks from their feeding bowls to pass to friendly dogs, and this, of course, is fun for both.


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