Category: Science

A Tilt of the Head

Head-tilting in dogs.

There have been two recent articles on head-tilting in dogs. One was published by Springer Link and was a scientific report; the Abstract as follows:

Little is known about head-tilts in dogs. Based on previous investigations on the head turning and the lateralised brain pattern of human speech processing in dogs, we hypothesised that head-tilts may be related to increased attention and could be explained by lateralised mental functions. We observed 40 dogs during object-label knowledge tests and analysed head-tilts occurring while listening to humans requesting verbally to fetch a familiar toy. Our results indicate that only dogs that had learned the name of the objects tilted their heads frequently. Besides, the side of the tilt was stable across several months and tests. Thus, we suggest a relationship between head-tilting and processing relevant, meaningful stimuli.

The other report was a more easy read, so to speak, and is from Treehugger and that is the one that I shall share with you.

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Why Brilliant Dogs Tilt Their Heads.

They’re processing relevant information.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Published November 12, 2021

Tetra Images – Jessica Peterson / Getty Images

Ask your dog a question, and there’s a good chance he’ll tilt his head as he ponders his response.

The head tilt is a cute canine maneuver that gives the impression your pup is paying attention to you. But there’s been little scientific research analyzing the behavior.

In a new study of “gifted” dogs, researchers found that dogs that can easily learn the names of their toys tilt their heads when their owners ask them to fetch a specific toy. And they typically tilt their heads consistently to the same side.1

Data was collected during the Genius Dog Challenge, a series of experiments that were broadcast on social media, showing dogs retrieving their toys by name. The information was also collected during an earlier study that researched how some dogs are able to learn the names of many of their toys.2

These dogs were dubbed “gifted word learners” by researchers.

“We started studying this phenomenon after we realised that all of us observed this behaviour very often when we were testing the gifted word learner (GWL) dogs,” lead researcher Andrea Sommese, from the Family Dog Project at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, tells Treehugger. 

“It’s such a cute, common behaviour but we didn’t know why our dogs were doing it and most of all, why so often!”

Gifted Learners 

For their work, researchers searched globally for two years, looking for dogs that had the ability to quickly memorize the names of their toys. They also created the Genius Dog Challenge, a research project and social media campaign, to find even more brilliant pups.3

They found six border collies that live in different countries, who all learned toy names just while playing with their owners. For the challenge, these gifted word learners had a week to learn the names of six toys. During the second stage, they had a week to try to learn the names of a dozen toys.4

“In all our experiments we found that the GWL dogs were tilting the head very often. It wasn’t just during the challenge but also when we were testing them every month,” Sommese says.

“We believe that there is a relationship between head tilting and processing relevant, and meaningful stimuli as our GWL dogs only showed this behaviour during the test when their owners were saying the name of a toy.”

In one experiment, researchers observed 40 dogs for three months as they attempted to learn the names of two new toys. The dogs sat or stood in front of their owners when they were asked to fetch one of the toys by pronouncing its name. (For example, “bring rope!”) The dogs would then go to another room and attempt to retrieve the correct toy.1

The researchers found that the gifted word learner dogs tilted their heads 43% of the time versus the typical dogs that only tilted in 2% of trials.1

The results were published in the journal Animal Cognition.

Choosing Sides

Dogs, horses, and other animals—including humans—show asymmetry in the way they perceive the world around them. They prefer one ear, eye, hand (or paw) over the other when interacting with the environment.5

“A typical way to show asymmetry, especially in humans, is handedness. Most of us are right-handed but there are still left-handed people around. The same can happen to animals,” Sommese says.

“Of course, it doesn’t always have to be a ‘hand’ or a paw in their case, it can be an eye or an ear. For instance, in dogs, even the inclination their tails have when they’re wagging is a sign of asymmetrical behaviour.”

In the study, researchers found that the dogs also showed asymmetry, nearly always tilting their heads to the same side.1

What About Typical Dogs?

Researchers say the findings suggest there’s a connection between head tilting and processing relevant and meaningful stimuli.5

But their results are limited because they only studied these brilliant pups who have learned toy names.

“Even if typical dogs are not able to learn the names of many toys as we showed with our previous study, typical dogs still tilt their head,” Sommese says. “It seems that even in them this might be in response to meaningful stimuli—but we don’t know what meaningful means for a typical dog just yet.”

Article Sources

  1. Sommese, Andrea, et al. “An Exploratory Analysis of Head-Tilting in Dogs.” Animal Cognition, 2021, doi:10.1007/s10071-021-01571-8
  2. Talk-To-Tilt: Head Tilting In Dogs.” ELTE Institute of Biology, 2021.
  3. Shany Dror, from the Family Dog Project, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest
  4. The Challenge.” Genius Dog Challenge.
  5. lead researcher Andrea Sommese, from the Family Dog Project at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest

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Now I see The Smithsonian magazine has jumped on the bandwagon. Here is a small piece from their article:

“The next step is asking more questions to get at what the head tilt really means,” says Monique Udell, a human-animal interaction researcher at Oregon State University who wasn’t involved in the work, to Rachel Fritts of Science. “Can we use head tilting to predict word-learning aptitude, or attention, or memory?”

But The Smithsonian has to be thanked for mentioning Monique Udell because one can quickly find her details:

Monique Udell

Dr. Udell is the Director of the Human-Animal Interaction Laboratory and teaches courses on Animal Behavior & Cognition, Applied Animal Behavior, Animal Learning, Behavior Modification and Enrichment within the Department of Animal & Rangeland Sciences at OSU.

Her research interests include:

  • Human-animal interactions & bonding, including animal training and animal assisted intervention programs aimed at improving the lives of humans and animals through mutually beneficial interactions.
  • Lifetime and evolutionary factors influencing the social development and wellbeing of canines (dogs and wolves), domestic cats, and other captive and domesticated species.
  • Evaluating and improving the welfare of animals living as companion, working, or production animals.

More details can be found at the Human-Animal Interaction lab website: TheHumanAnimalBond.com

If anyone wants to contact her then her email address is: monique.udell@oregonstate.edu

I think I will simply because I would like to know more about her work!

The end of our present behaviours!

What is happening to Earth’s climate needs attention NOW!

Two charts recently from the BBC News.

The 10 years to the end of 2019 have been confirmed as the warmest decade on record by three global agencies. 

According to Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office, last year was the second warmest in a record dating back to 1850. The past five years were the hottest in the 170-year series, with the average of each one more than 1C warmer than pre-industrial.

The Met Office says that 2020 is likely to continue this warming trend.2016 remains the warmest year on record, when temperatures were boosted by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

This is the reality.

It affects every part of the world and it affects everyone. BUT! We, as in you and me, and everyone else, still haven’t got it.

The recent COP26 was progress and, especially, the next convention being held in a year’s time is important. But it is a long way from where we need to be. A very long way.

Patrice Ayme is someone that I follow and there have been times when I have gladly republished his posts. With his permission I should add.

Recently he published a post called Cataclysmic Seven Degree Centigrade Rise and I wanted to share it with you. Here is is:

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CATACLYSMIC SEVEN DEGREES CENTIGRADE RISE

Abstract: Expected rise of temperature in mountains correspond to a seven degree C rise. This informs global heating: in the long run, it will also be 7C. Large systems (Antarctica, Greenland) have greater thermal inertia, so their temperatures rise slower… But they will rise as much. In other words the so-called “forcing” by man-made greenhouse gases (which corresponds to 600 ppm of CO2) is universal, but the smaller the system, the faster the temperature rise

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Geographical systems with little thermal inertia (mountain glaciers) show an accelerated rate of heating of these parts which is only compatible with a seven (7) degrees rise in Celsius by 2100… A rise the IPCC of the UN considers impossible… But INERTIA says that it IS happening. The first thing this implies is that most forests will burn… worldwide. Then the ice shelves in Antarctica will follow.

TEMPS RISING ULTRA FAST IN MOUNTAINS

Anybody familiar with mountains worldwide know that temperatures are rising extremely fast: large glaciers I used to know have completely disappeared.. As in Chacaltaya, Bolivia. Or Portage, Alaska. The closest glacier to an Alpine village I went to as a child has been replaced by a larch forest (melezes)… One reason for this is that mountains are smaller in frozen mass than immense ensembles like Greenland and Antarctica. Moreover, the mountains’ permafrost is not as cold.  

From 1984 to 2017, the upper reaches of the fires in the Sierra Nevada of California rose more than 1,400 feet. Now the temperature in the lower atmosphere decreases by 7C every 1,000 meters. There are many potential factors to explain why fires go higher (although some contradict each other). To avoid paralysis by analysis, I will assume the rise in fires is all due to temperature rise. So what we have here is a 2.5C rise in 33 years.

….FROM SMALLER THERMAL INERTIA:

Mountain thermal capacity is accordingly reduced relative to those of Greenland and Antarctica. The proportionality factors are gigantic. Say the permafrost of a mountain range is of the order of 10^4 square kilometers, at a depth of one kilometer (typical of the Sierra Nevada of California or the Alps at a temp of -3C. By comparison, Antarctica is 14x 10^6 sq km at a depth of 4 kilometers of permafrost at a temp of -30C. Thinking in greater depth reveals the proportions to be even greater: individual mountains are of the order of square kilometers. This means that (using massively simplified lower bounds), Antarctica has a mass of cold which is at least 4 orders of magnitude higher than a mountain range: to bring Antarctica to seriously melt, as mountain ranges are right now, would require at least 10,000, ten thousand times, as much heat (or maybe even a million, or more, when considering individual mountains).  

As it is, mountains are exposed to a heat bath which makes their permafrost unsustainable. From their small thermal inertia, mountains warm up quickly. Greenland and Antarctica, overall, are exposed to the same bath, the same “forcing”, but because they are gigantic and gigantically cold, they resist more: they warm up, but much slower (moreover as warmer air carries more snow, it snows more while Antarctica warms up).

I have looked, in details at glaciologists records, from the US to Europe… Everywhere glaciologists say the same thing: expect a rise of the permafrost line of 1,000 meters… That corresponds to a SEVEN DEGREE CENTIGRADE RISE. Basically, while glaciers were found down to 2,500 meters in the Alps (some can still be seen in caves)… Expect that, in a few decades, none will occur below 3,500 meters… Thus speak the specialists, the glaciologists…

Mount Hood, Oregon, in August 1901 on the left, and August 2015, on the right. The Eliot glacier, front and center, which used to sprawl for miles, is in the process of disappearing completely.

What is happening then, when most climate scientists speak of holding the 1.5 C line (obviously completely impossible, even if humanity stopped emitting CO2 immediately)???… Or when they admit that we are on a 2.7C future in 2100? Well, those scientists have been captured by the establishment… They say what ensure their prosperous careers… At a global rise of 2.7 C, we get a migration of the permafrost line of around 500 kilometers towards the poles… Catastrophic, yes, but still, Antarctica will not obviously start to melt, big time. 

At 7C, the melting of the surrounding of Antarctica, including destabilization of West Antarctica, and the Aurora and Wilkes Basin can’t be avoided… They hold around 25 meters of sea level rise….

If it came to light that a seven degree centigrade rise is a real possibility, authorities would turn around and really do some things, which may destabilize the worldwide plutocratic establishment: carbon tariffs are an obvious example. Carbon tariffs could be imposed next week… and they would have a big impact of the CO2 production. So why are carbon tariffs not imposed? Carbon tariffs would destabilize the deindustrialization gravy train: by employing who are basically slaves in poor countries, plutocrats make themselves ever wealthier, while making sure there would be no insurrection at home… A trick already used in imperial Rome, by the Senatorial aristocracy/plutocracy. That would be highly effective… By the way, without saying so, of course, and maybe even unwittingly, this is basically what Trump had started to do…

The devil has these ways which the commons do not possess…

That would stop the crafty, dissembling nonsense that countries such as France are at 4.6 tons per capita of CO2 emissions per year… That’s only true when all the CO2 emitted to produce the goods the French need is NOT counted.. including deforestation in Brazil to grow soybean. With them counted, one gets to 11 tons or so, more than double… The wonderful graph of CO2 emissions collapsing in Europe is the same graph as collapsing industrial production…

The devil has these ways the commons have not even detected…

Carbon tariffs would be a way to solve two wrongs in one shot: the wrong of deindustrialization, of corrupt pseudo-leaders not putting the most advanced countries, their own countries, first… And the wrong of producing too much CO2.

Little fixes will go a long way, as long as they incorporate hefty financing fundamentally researching new energy (it does not really matter which type, as long as it is fundamental…)

Patrice Ayme

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Now this isn’t some academic treatise that doesn’t affect the likes of you and me. This is, as I have said, the harsh reality of NOW!

Here’s a photo of me and Jeannie together with Andy and Trish taken in March, 2018. On the edge of Crater Lake.

Then this is a stock photograph of Crater Lake taken in March, 2020.

Taken by Valerie Little

Not a great deal of difference but the trees in the photo above aren’t encased in snow as is the tree in the 2018 photo.

Now there is important news to bring you from COP 26. On Sunday Boris Johnson said:

Scientists say this would limit the worst impacts of climate change.

During a Downing Street news conference, Mr Johnson said: 

  • “We can lobby, we can cajole, we can encourage, but we cannot force sovereign nations to do what they do not wish to do”
  • “For all our disagreements, the world is undeniably heading in the right direction”
  • The “tipping point has been reached in people’s attitudes” – with leaders “galvanised and propelled by their electorates”
  • But “the fatal mistake now would be to think that we in any way cracked this thing”

Mr Johnson said that despite the achievements of the summit, his reaction was “tinged with disappointment”.

He said there had been a high level of ambition – especially from countries where climate change was already “a matter of life and death”. 

And “while many of us were willing to go there, that wasn’t true of everybody”, he admitted. But he added the UK could not compel nations to act. “It’s ultimately their decision to make and they must stand by it.”

That point about attitudes is interesting. Who would have thought, say, five years ago, that attitudes had changed so dramatically by late-2021.

One hopes that we will come to our collective senses but I can’t see the CO2 index being returned to its normal range without machines taking the excessive CO2 out of the atmosphere. Because, as was quoted on The Conversation nearly a year ago:

On Wednesday this week, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was measured at at 415 parts per million (ppm). The level is the highest in human history, and is growing each year.

Finally, my daughter, Maija, and my son-in-law, Marius, had a child some ten years ago. He is my grandson and I left England before he was born. He is Morten and he is a bright young spark.

Morten

Morten and all the hundreds of thousands of young persons like him are going to have to deal with the world as they find it!

Food miles!

It is more complicated than it first appears.

I saw this article on the Sustainability at Harvard website and read it with great interest. I wanted to republish it to share with you but couldn’t readily see a copyright statement or an instruction regarding republishing. I sent an email but I was warned that Harvard receive a great deal of emails every day and a reply might not be forthcoming.

So ….. I have made a decision. I will publish the article and hope that it doesn’t infringe the copyright.

Before I do that let me ‘promote’ Sustainability at Harvard by giving you a little from their About page.

Together we are building a healthier, more sustainable community

Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines making differences globally. While Harvard’s primary role is to address global challenges, such as climate change and sustainability, through research and teaching, the University is also focused on translating research into action. Harvard is using its campus as a living laboratory for piloting and implementing solutions that create a sustainable and resilient community focused on health and well-being.

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Do food miles really matter?

March 7, 2017

By Molly Leavens, College ’19

Leavens breaks down the nuances of how a food’s carbon footprint relates to the distance it travels from farm to plate.

The local food movement, with the goal of consuming food produced and grown within a close geographic region, has been gaining traction in recent years as a way of eating fresh and high quality foods and reducing one’s environmental impact. However, public messaging about the outcomes of this movement is divided and often leads to confusion and misunderstanding among consumers. This short article will attempt to break down some of the nuances of how a food’s carbon footprint relates to the distance it travels from farm to plate (commonly referred to as food miles).

So, do food miles really matter? Yes and no. 

For most American diets, the carbon cost of transportation is slight compared to the carbon costs of production (running the tractors, producing chemical fertilizer, pumping irrigation…). Therefore, the most effective way for most Americans to reduce their diet’s carbon footprint is not by buying local, but rather eliminating or reducing their consumption of animal products.

the most effective way for most Americans to reduce their diet’s carbon footprint is not by buying local, but rather eliminating or reducing their consumption of animal products. 

Cartoon by Harvard staff member, Mitra Farmand. www.mitrafarmand.com.

For a vegan, food miles contribute to a larger portion of their food’s carbon footprint. Plant-based foods have lower production footprints, so transportation is comparatively more significant. Even then, the raw mileage is hardly informative for determining carbon footprints; the mode of transportation is the key variable. Cargo ships are the most efficient, followed by trains, then trucks, and lastly planes.

That means a product flown from Chicago to Boston has a significantly larger carbon footprint than one shipped 11,000 miles from Asia to California.

Although exact numbers vary across analyses, flying one ton of food is close to 70 times more carbon intensive than transporting that same weight via a large cargo ship (source). That means a product flown from Chicago to Boston has a significantly larger carbon footprint than one shipped 11,000 miles from Asia to California. As a result, locality is more important for perishable foods that are often flown like raw fish, asparagus, and berries. Foods such as tomatoes, bananas, pears, and apples can all be harvested before ripening, stored for long periods of time, then inoculated with ethylene gas (the naturally occurring hormone produced by fruits that causes the change in color and flavor profile associated with ripening) before entering a supermarket. In many cases, these shelf-stable foods have lower carbon footprints when produced internationally because the carbon cost of production far outweighs that of transportation.

Another frequently cited comparison is that of lamb produced in England verses lamb produced in New Zealand. For a consumer in England, the New Zealand lamb actually has a lower carbon footprint. Our intuition failed us. Why? Sheep in New Zealand are generally raised on farms run by hydroelectric power. This energy saving is so immense that it overrides the fuel output of the 11,000 mile cruise to England (source).

A similar story unfolds here in Boston. Local meat production could be more carbon intensive because the animals must be housed in heated facilities during the cold winter months. For a large portion of the year, we are better off shipping in a tomato from South America than growing one in a local greenhouse.

A similar story unfolds here in Boston. Local meat production could be more carbon intensive because the animals must be housed in heated facilities during the cold winter months.   

Looking exclusively at carbon footprints neglects other important issues like water usage and farmer rights but it is none the less a valuable metric. Purchasing local food has many social benefits like boosting local economies, and increasing community cohesion and self-reliance. In conclusion, local food is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but it is important for consumers to define the values they hope to support through their purchasing decisions and think critically about when and where local foods support those values.

 

Looking exclusively at carbon footprints neglects other important issues like water usage and farmer rights but it is none the less a valuable metric.

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Like so many things in life they are frequently more complicated than they first appear.

How Wolves Change Rivers

This is a brilliant and very informative video.

I have long followed George Monbiot and was delighted to find that he is the narrator on this video. The film was shot by Sustainable Human, an organisation that I hadn’t come across before. But I will look more closely at their website.

It is not long but it is full of surprises.

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains.

There you go!

Science on the business of loving our dogs (and cats).

A fascinating article!

I have long subscribed to The Conversation and shared quite a few stories with you good people. But this recent one was a terrific report.

Read it yourself and I am sure you will agree with me.

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New research suggests cat and dog ‘moms’ and ‘dads’ really are parenting their pets – here’s the evolutionary explanation why.

Pet parenting can provide love and companionship to both human and animal. Willie B. Thomas/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Shelly Volsche, Boise State University

old pug dog in a stroller and harness
A pup out for a stroll, without paws touching the ground. Shelly Volsche, CC BY-ND

Have you noticed more cats riding in strollers lately? Or bumper stickers that read, “I love my granddogs”? You’re not imagining it. More people are investing serious time, money and attention in their pets.

It looks an awful lot like parenting, but of pets, not people.

Can this kind of caregiving toward animals really be considered parenting? Or is something else going on here?

I’m an anthropologist who studies human-animal interactions, a field known as anthrozoology. I want to better understand the behavior of pet parenting by people from the perspective of evolutionary science. After all, cultural norms and evolutionary biology both suggest people should focus on raising their own children, not animals of a completely different species.

More child-free people, more pet parents

The current moment is unique in human history. Many societies, including the U.S., are experiencing major changes in how people live, work and socialize. Fertility rates are low, and people have more flexibility in how they choose to live their lives. These factors can lead people to further their education and value defining oneself as an individual over family obligations. With basics taken care of, people can focus on higher order psychological needs like feelings of achievement and a sense of purpose.

The scene is set for people to actively choose to focus on pets instead of children.

In earlier research, I interviewed 28 self-identified child-free pet owners to better understand how they relate to their animals. These individuals pointedly shared that they had actively chosen cats and dogs instead of children. In many cases, their use of parent-child relational terms – calling themselves a pet’s “mom” for instance – was simply shorthand.

They emphasized fulfilling the species-specific needs of their dogs and cats. For example, they might fulfill the animal’s need to forage by feeding meals using a food puzzle, while most children are fed at the table. These pet owners acknowledged differences in the nutrition, socialization and learning needs of animals versus children. They were not unthinkingly replacing human children with “fur babies” by treating them like small, furry humans.

woman with party hat with dog
Pet parents might celebrate their dog’s big day – but with a doggy treat and not chocolate cake. fotostorm/E+ via Getty Images

Other researchers find similar connections, showing that child-free pet owners perceive their companions as emotional, thinking individuals. This way of understanding the mind of the animal helps lead to the development of a parent identity toward companion animals. In other cases, uncertain individuals find their need to nurture sufficiently fulfilled by caring for pets, cementing their fertility decisions to remain child-free.

Nurturing others is part of being human

Yet, these findings still do not answer this question: Are people who choose pets over children truly parenting their pets? To answer, I turned to the evolution of parenting and caregiving.

Evolutionary anthropologist Sarah Hardy wrote in 2009 that humans are cooperative breeders. This means it is literally in our DNA and our ancestral history to help care for offspring who are not our own. Anthropologists and biologists call this trait alloparenting. It is an evolutionary adaptation that helped human beings who cooperatively raised children survive. For early humans, this ancient environment was likely made up of small, foraging societies in which some people exchanged child care for food and other resources.

I propose that it is this evolutionary history that explains pet parenting. If people evolved to alloparent, and our environment is now making caring for children more difficult or less appealing to some, it makes sense for people to alloparent other species entering their homes. Alloparenting companion animals can offer a way to fulfill the evolved need to nurture while reducing the investment of time, money and emotional energy compared to raising children.

two kids and dog bathing in tub
Do people relate to animals differently in families with children? Mayte Torres/Moment via Getty Images

Untangling differences in caring for pets

To further understand this phenomenon of child-free adults parenting pets, I launched an online survey via social media, seeking responses from U.S.-based dog and cat owners over the age of 18. The survey included questions about attachment and caregiving behaviors using the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale. It also asked a series of questions I developed to probe specific human caretaking behaviors oriented toward pets – things like feeding, bathing and training – as well as how much autonomy companion animals had in the home.

The final sample of 917 respondents included 620 parents, 254 nonparents and 43 people who were undecided or did not answer. Most of the respondents were also married or in a domestic partnership for over one year (57%), between the ages of 25 and 60 (72%) and had at least a bachelor’s degree (77%). They were also mostly women (85%) and heterosexual (85%), a common situation in human-animal interactions research.

Both parents and nonparents reported high amounts of training and play with their pets. This finding makes sense given that all pet owners need to help their dogs and cats learn how to navigate a human world. Survey respondents reported socializing, training and enrichment, including play, for their animals.

Nonparents were more likely to be the one providing general care for the animal. This finding also makes sense since parents often adopt or purchase companion animals as a way to help their children learn responsibility and to care for others. Child-free animal owners invest time, money and emotional energy directly in their pets.

Nonparents reported higher rates of general attachment to their animals. They more frequently viewed their pets as individuals. Nonparents were also more likely to use family terms such as “parent,” “child,” “kids” and “guardians” when referring to their relationships with their pet.

woman on couch petting cat
Caring for another being can be fulfilling and rewarding. Delmaine Donson/E+ via Getty Images

It is this difference, combined with the evidence from my earlier research that these individuals address the species-specific needs of the dogs and cats in their care, that suggests pet parenting is, truly, parenting pets. Though the details may look quite different – attending training classes instead of school functions, or providing smell walks for dogs instead of coloring books for children – both practices fulfill the same evolved function. Whether child or pet, people are meeting the same evolved need to care for, teach and love a sentient other.

My colleagues and I continue to collect data from all over the world about how people live with animals. For now, this study provides evidence that, perhaps rather than being evolved to parent, humans are evolved to nurture. And as a result, who and when we parent is much more flexible than you might initially believe.

[Get our best science, health and technology stories. Sign up for The Conversation’s science newsletter.]

Shelly Volsche, Clinical Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Boise State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Shelly does a fabulous job of looking more closely at the science and it is a science that has a very wide appeal. For in the UK, according to the RSPCA, “In the UK, it’s estimated that 12 million (44 percent of) households have pets with around 51 million pets owned.

Here in America The Washington Post reported that: “Google the U.S. pet population, and you’re quickly confronted with two oft-cited, and contradictory, sources. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that 68 percent of U.S. households owned some sort of pet in 2016 — “equal to the highest level ever reported,” it gushed in the executive summary. Among those pets were about 90 million dogs and 94 million cats, the group said.

That is just two countries. The worldwide population of dogs and cats must be gigantic.

Dream on, dear dog!

An article as to whether dogs dream.

James Dean was an American actor. He was killed in a highway accident on September 30, 1955. But he left a quote:

Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.

My article today is yet another one from The Dodo. It was published in early August this year and I am surprised that I have not shared it before. It is whether dogs dream or not.

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Do Dogs Dream?

Those little foot twitches 🥺

By Sam Howell, published on the 2nd August, 2021.

There’s nothing cuter than when your dog’s little paws are twitching in her sleep.

But it’s probably made you wonder: Is your dog actually dreaming?

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Megan Dundas, veterinarian and practice owner at Lincolndale Veterinary Center in New York, to find out just what’s going on in your sleepyhead’s sleepy head.

Do dogs have dreams?

For a long time, no one actually knew if dogs could even have dreams.

Since your pup can’t just wake up from a nap and tell you all about the weird dream she just had, scientists had to figure it out by discovering similarities between dogs’ sleep stages and ours (since we know for sure that people dream).

“It is thought that dogs do dream because studies have shown that dogs have sleep stages, including the REM stage, which is when most dream activity occurs in people,” Dr. Dundas told The Dodo.

But just because dogs go through a REM stage, does that mean they actually dream?

Well, scientists studied rats and found that they do, in fact, dream. So, researchers concluded that dogs must dream, too!

How do dogs’ dreams work?

In order to know how your dog’s dreams work, you’ve got to know about how her sleep cycles work.

“Dogs typically sleep anywhere from 9 to 14 hours in 45-minute sleep periods, with the phases of sleep divided into a wakefulness state, drowsiness, non-REM sleep and REM sleep,” Dr. Dundas explained.

REM stands for rapid eye movement, and it means exactly what it sounds like: Your dog is asleep, but her eyes are moving rapidly and her brain is almost acting like she’s awake (even though she’s asleep).

That’s when she’s going to be dreaming.

“During REM sleep, the neurons of the brain are still active,” Dr. Dundas said. “However, there is a ‘switch’ of sorts that disconnects the motor neurons in the spinal cord from the neuronal activity of the brain.”

Basically, your dog’s brain is still going during REM sleep, but that “switch” keeps her legs from moving.

Why do dogs twitch in their sleep?

“During REM sleep, most muscles are immobile with the exception of some facial muscles, the larynx, paws, tail, diaphragm and muscles of the ribs,” Dr. Dundas explained. 

That means that when your dog’s neurons are firing — signaling her to chase that car she’s dreaming about — only her paws, tail or nose will twitch, since those muscles aren’t immobile like her legs are.

It’s also the reason why you can hear your pup whimpering in her sleep.

“What seems like whining could be attributed to the movement of the muscles of the diaphragm pushing air through the larynx or voice box,” Dr. Dundas said.

And sometimes, that neuron switch that’s supposed to keep your dog’s legs from moving doesn’t actually shut off her motor functions, which is why you might feel like you can see your dog dreaming super intensely.

“The brain’s activity is then allowed to become motor activity, and the dog’s movements can become vigorous or even violent,” Dr. Dundas explained. “The behaviors seen in these situations are thought to be similar to humans acting out dreams.”

“I think it’s fair to say that it is similar to sleepwalking in humans,” Dr. Dundas said. “We can’t know what dogs are dreaming about, and we are making the assumption that they are dreaming in the first place. So we’re assuming that if they are running in their dreams that the coordinated foot movements seen when sleeping, or growling/gnashing behavior, is a sign that the dog is acting out a dream.”

What do you do when your dog is dreaming?

Honestly, nothing.

“As the old saying goes, it is usually best to let sleeping dogs lie,” Dr. Dundas said.

Even if you think your dog is having a nightmare, you’re going to want to let her ride it out.

“If you suspect your dog is having a bad dream, wait until the outward signs of the dream have ended and you can then wake your dog to give some comfort,” Dr. Dundas explained.

That’s because it could be super startling for your pup if she’s suddenly woken up out of nowhere — just like how you feel really weird when you abruptly snap awake in the middle of a nightmare.

“The combination of the excited state of a bad dream and being woken up from a deep sleep could lead to an inadvertent bite,” Dr. Dundas explained.

So if your dog is dreaming, just let her dream! Besides, it’s super cute to watch those teeny toes twitching away.

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Cleo, our female German Shepherd is a great one for moving her legs when she is asleep. So, too, is our Brandy. There are times when Brandy is sleeping on his side against one of our walls and his leg movements can be incredibly loud as his paws hammer against the wood wall.

But in one way or another all our dogs can move their limbs when in a deep sleep.

It is a shame they cannot report to us humans what they were dreaming about!

Darkness!

Chris Impey writes about his specialty in observational cosmology.

This has nothing to do with life, nothing that we are dealing with in our daily affairs, and has nothing to do with our dear dogs. BUT! This is incredibly interesting! Incredibly and beautifully interesting!

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The most powerful space telescope ever built will look back in time to the Dark Ages of the universe

Hubble took pictures of the oldest galaxies it could – seen here – but the James Webb Space Telescope can go back much farther in time. NASA

Chris Impey, University of Arizona

Some have called NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope the “telescope that ate astronomy.” It is the most powerful space telescope ever built and a complex piece of mechanical origami that has pushed the limits of human engineering. On Dec. 18, 2021, after years of delays and billions of dollars in cost overruns, the telescope is scheduled to launch into orbit and usher in the next era of astronomy.

I’m an astronomer with a specialty in observational cosmology – I’ve been studying distant galaxies for 30 years. Some of the biggest unanswered questions about the universe relate to its early years just after the Big Bang. When did the first stars and galaxies form? Which came first, and why? I am incredibly excited that astronomers may soon uncover the story of how galaxies started because James Webb was built specifically to answer these very questions.

A graphic showing the progression of the Universe through time.
The Universe went through a period of time known as the Dark Ages before stars or galaxies emitted any light. Space Telescope Institute

The ‘Dark Ages’ of the universe

Excellent evidence shows that the universe started with an event called the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, which left it in an ultra-hot, ultra-dense state. The universe immediately began expanding after the Big Bang, cooling as it did so. One second after the Big Bang, the universe was a hundred trillion miles across with an average temperature of an incredible 18 billion F (10 billion C). Around 400,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was 10 million light years across and the temperature had cooled to 5,500 F (3,000 C). If anyone had been there to see it at this point, the universe would have been glowing dull red like a giant heat lamp.

Throughout this time, space was filled with a smooth soup of high energy particles, radiation, hydrogen and helium. There was no structure. As the expanding universe became bigger and colder, the soup thinned out and everything faded to black. This was the start of what astronomers call the Dark Ages of the universe.

The soup of the Dark Ages was not perfectly uniform and due to gravity, tiny areas of gas began to clump together and become more dense. The smooth universe became lumpy and these small clumps of denser gas were seeds for the eventual formation of stars, galaxies and everything else in the universe.

Although there was nothing to see, the Dark Ages were an important phase in the evolution of the universe.

A diagram showing different wavelengths of light compared to size of normal objects.
Light from the early universe is in the infrared wavelength – meaning longer than red light – when it reaches Earth. Inductiveload/NASA via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Looking for the first light

The Dark Ages ended when gravity formed the first stars and galaxies that eventually began to emit the first light. Although astronomers don’t know when first light happened, the best guess is that it was several hundred million years after the Big Bang. Astronomers also don’t know whether stars or galaxies formed first.

Current theories based on how gravity forms structure in a universe dominated by dark matter suggest that small objects – like stars and star clusters – likely formed first and then later grew into dwarf galaxies and then larger galaxies like the Milky Way. These first stars in the universe were extreme objects compared to stars of today. They were a million times brighter but they lived very short lives. They burned hot and bright and when they died, they left behind black holes up to a hundred times the Sun’s mass, which might have acted as the seeds for galaxy formation.

Astronomers would love to study this fascinating and important era of the universe, but detecting first light is incredibly challenging. Compared to massive, bright galaxies of today, the first objects were very small and due to the constant expansion of the universe, they’re now tens of billions of light years away from Earth. Also, the earliest stars were surrounded by gas left over from their formation and this gas acted like fog that absorbed most of the light. It took several hundred million years for radiation to blast away the fog. This early light is very faint by the time it gets to Earth.

But this is not the only challenge.

As the universe expands, it continuously stretches the wavelength of light traveling through it. This is called redshift because it shifts light of shorter wavelengths – like blue or white light – to longer wavelengths like red or infrared light. Though not a perfect analogy, it is similar to how when a car drives past you, the pitch of any sounds it is making drops noticeably. Similar to how a pitch of a sound drops if the source is moving away from you, the wavelength of light stretches due to the expansion of the universe.

By the time light emitted by an early star or galaxy 13 billion years ago reaches any telescope on Earth, it has been stretched by a factor of 10 by the expansion of the universe. It arrives as infrared light, meaning it has a wavelength longer than that of red light. To see first light, you have to be looking for infrared light.

Telescope as a time machine

Enter the James Webb Space Telescope.

Telescopes are like time machines. If an object is 10,000 light-years away, that means the light takes 10,000 years to reach Earth. So the further out in space astronomers look, the further back in time we are looking.

A large golden colored disc with a sensor in the middle and scientists standing below.
The James Webb Space Telescope was specifically designed to detect the oldest galaxies in the universe. NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC BY-SA

Engineers optimized James Webb for specifically detecting the faint infrared light of the earliest stars or galaxies. Compared to the Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb has a 15 times wider field of view on its camera, collects six times more light and its sensors are tuned to be most sensitive to infrared light.

The strategy will be to stare deeply at one patch of sky for a long time, collecting as much light and information from the most distant and oldest galaxies as possible. With this data, it may be possible to answer when and how the Dark Ages ended, but there are many other important discoveries to be made. For example, unraveling this story may also help explain the nature of dark matter, the mysterious form of matter that makes up about 80% of the mass of the universe.

James Webb is the most technically difficult mission NASA has ever attempted. But I think the scientific questions it may help answer will be worth every ounce of effort. I and other astronomers are waiting excitedly for the data to start coming back sometime in 2022.

Chris Impey, University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The dark ages of the universe that lasted for millions of years until gravity started to form some order out of the ‘soup’.

I don’t know about you but the winter nights, when the sky is clear, have me waiting outside for the dogs to come in looking up at the night sky just lost in the sheer wonder of it all.

The very best of luck to NASA on December 18th!

Our Oregon wolves

A very close relative to the domestic dog.

Indeed until a short time ago it was thought that the dog evolved from the grey wolf but recently I read that the dog evolved as its own species.

But the following is a republication of an article on Oregon Wild about wolves returning to the State of Oregon.

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Wolves in Oregon

Gray wolves (Canis lupus) were once common in Oregon, occupying most of the state. However, a deliberate effort to eradicate the species was successful by the late 1940s.

In fact, trouble for wolves began almost 100 years earlier, in the years before Oregon became a state. In 1843 the first wolf bounty was established and Oregon’s first legislative session was called in part to address the “problem of marauding wolves.” By 1913, people could collect a $5 state bounty and an Oregon State Game Commission bounty of $20. The last recorded wolf bounty was paid out in 1947.

After an absence of over half a century, wolves began to take their first tentative steps towards recovery. Having dispersed from Idaho, the native species is once again trying to make a home in Oregon. One of the first sightings came in 1999 when a lone wolf was captured near the middle fork of the John Day River, put in a crate and quickly returned to Idaho by government wildlife agents. In 2000, two wolves were found dead – one killed by a car, the other illegally shot.

In 2006, a flurry of sightings led biologists to believe a number of wild wolves were living in Northeast Oregon near the Wallowa Mountains and the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Sadly, a wolf found shot to death near La Grande in May 2007 clearly indicated wolves had arrived in the area.

After that sad chapter, wolves began to establish a fragile foothold in the state. In July 2008 pups were confirmed to a wolf named Sophie by the Oregon Wild wolf pack (and B-300 to government biologists). Those pups represented the first wolves in Oregon in nearly 60 years! A second set of six pups were confirmed and videotaped in November 2009. The following July, a third litter of pups was confirmed.

Unfortunately, the news was tempered with additional poaching and heavy-handed state management. After peaking at 26 confirmed wolves, wolf recovery stalled out in 2011. While some wolves dispersed from the Imnaha Pack, only one pup was confirmed to Oregon’s best-known pack, and two pups were confirmed in one of the state’s other two packs (the Walla Walla and Wenaha). Oregon’s confirmed wolf population fell to 17, and then to 14, when the state killed three more wolves (two on purpose) and poachers killed a fourth.

In 2011, wolves in Eastern Oregon lost their federal protections due to an unprecedented congressional budget rider sponsored by Montana Sen. John Tester. Hours later,  Oregon used their new authority to kill two wolves and issue dozens of landowner kill permits at the request of the livestock industry.

Meanwhile, anti-wildlife interests and their political allies pushed over half a dozen bills in Salem aimed at making it easier to kill wolves and undermine wolf recovery. Most of the bills were defeated, but a compensation fund and new predator killing fund were approved.

Wolf hunts in nearby states also threaten the region’s fragile recovery. When wolves were federally delisted the region was home to an estimated population of about 1,700 wolves. Over 1,000 were killed in the first two seasons alone.

The large tracts of pristine and unspoiled Wilderness and roadless areas in Northeast Oregon are vital components in the successful recovery of wolves, and other wildlife too. (Ed: see the photograph below of the wild lands of Oregon.) The reappearance of wolves, wolverines, and other endangered wildlife in Oregon further underscores the importance of protecting those roadless areas that remain on public land.

Anticipating the eventual return of wolves, the state of Oregon completed a Wolf Conservation and Management Plan in 2005 aimed at making rational decisions in the light of day that would lead to wolf recovery. Though state polling put support for wolf recovery at over 70 percent, the plan was weak, allowed the state to kill wolves, and set scientifically indefensible recovery goals.

Even so, the plan was actively opposed by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. They argued in their minority report that “wolves are being used as a biological weapon” and that wolves are a non-native species that citizens should have the right to shoot without permits. 

Oregon Wild and other conservationists generally – if reluctantly – agreed to honor the compromise embodied in the plan. Most believed lethal control would be an option of last resort and conservation would be a priority.

After the state shot two young wolves in response to the first livestock depredations in over half a century, it was clear the state was willing to address the concerns of the livestock industry by killing wolves.

In 2010, the plan was reviewed and revised. The public process took the better part of a year and demonstrated that support for wolf recovery had grown. Over 90 percent of a staggering 20,000 public comments were in favor of stronger protections for Oregon’s endangered gray wolves. Oregon Wild joined other conservationists and the Oregon public in defending the plan against continued attacks. Though the plan survived relatively intact, most of the approved changes made it easier to kill wolves. 

In 2011, a lone wolf from the Imnaha Pack generated international headlines when he became the first in Western Oregon since 1947, and then the first in California in nearly a century. The story of Journey (OR-7) provided a welcome opportunity to step away from the unnecessary controversy manufactured by those opposed to wolf recovery and instead reflect on the positive story of a native species retaking its rightful place on the landscape.

Since 2012, wolf recovery in Oregon has slowly started to get back on track. Although the population has increased over the last several years, in 2015, and with only 78 known adult wolves in the state, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and its Commission decided to prematurely strip wolves of state Endangered Species Act protections — despite what peer reviewed, independent scientists recommended. Shortly after, lawmakers in Salem passed HB 4040: a bill that statutorily affirmed the delisting of Oregon’s wolves. The passage of HB 4040 essentially blocked the ability of conservation organizations to bring forth a lawsuit challenging the merits of the Commission’s decision.

The latest update to the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan — which was approved by the Commission in June of 2019 —  significantly erodes protections for wolves by lowering the threshold for when the state can kill wolves, removing requirements for non lethal conflict deterrence, and opening the door toward public hunting and trapping. 

For many, wolves are a symbol of freedom, wilderness, and the American west, and Oregon’s wolf country contains some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. Science continues to demonstrate the positive impacts of wolves on the landscape and the critical role played by big predators, and interest in their return is fueling tourism in Oregon’s wolf country and elsewhere in the west.

Still, wolves are threatened by a purposeful campaign of misinformation and fear. This webpage shoots down many of the common myths about wolves. A small number of vocal anti-wolf activists, along with industry lobbyists and their political allies, continue to work to undermine already weak protections for wolves and other wildlife.

The Future

For a state that prides itself on its green reputation, the extermination of wolves is one of our greatest environmental tragedies. Their return represents an opportunity at redemption.

Most Oregonians value native wildlife and believe wolves have a rightful place on the landscape. We are happy to know the silence of a hike in the Eagle Cap might be broken by the lonely howl of a wolf. If that howl is to remain, it’s critical that those who value wolves and other native wildlife stand up and speak up on their behalf.

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Plus there were photographs embedded within the text that I thought would be better appreciated if they were offered separately. Here they are:

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Finally a collection of wolf photographs from a link on Oregon Wild that is no longer in use. I downloaded these pictures in 2016!

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Long may they prosper!

Furry life saver!

The story of Rhys the dog!

I have known Keith Edmunds from a long time ago and we chat from time to time. Keith has his own company Tiger Computing, Linux specialists, (We provide managed cloud services and Linux support services for high-tech businesses), and we had a business connection many moons ago. But in an effort to stay connected with friends in the old country I have subscribed for quite some time to Keith’s newsletter. Although Keith clearly is speaking to potential clients his newsletter is quite readable for non-technical peeps such as myself.

At the end of September this year Keith’s newsletter was a little different. Here it is:

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Rhys the dog saved my wife’s life last week.

She was alone in the house. She put some flatbread in a pan on the hob, then went to check something on her PC. And forgot about the flatbread.

The flatbread got hotter, started smoking, and then the smoke alarm went off. That would be a clue for most of us that something may be amiss.

But my wife is deaf. She can’t hear the smoke alarm.

That’s when Rhys, the Hearing Dog, leapt into action. He found her and butted her hard with his nose. “What is it?”, she asked him. He squatted down on all fours, the signal that the smoke alarm is going off. He only makes that move for the smoke alarm so it’s clear what the problem is.

My wife ran to the kitchen, turned off the hob and opened windows to disperse the smoke. Without Rhys alerting her there would have been a fire. The consequences of that can only (fortunately) be imagined.

So here’s how it works. Rhys is trained to notify my wife when he hears certain sounds. He notified her when he heard one, and corrective action was taken.

Here at Tiger Computing we have sophisticated monitoring systems that keep an eye on our clients’ Linux systems. They’re configured to alert our support staff if things start going wrong, and the support staff can take corrective action.

Our monitoring probably won’t save your life. But it might save your bacon.

Until next week –
Keith

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It is a delightful account of yet another aspect of dogs. Dogs can undertake many things and some of our dogs are really clever. Rhys is an example of how highly trained dogs can be.

I spoke to Keith and asked permission to republish this, gladly and readily given, and whether Keith had any photographs of Rhys.

Rhys and Mrs. Edmunds

Beautiful!

Who wants to kiss a dog!

Well Jeannie does for sure.

All our six dogs are beautifully friendly but there’s one dog that just loves to be kissed and returns the favour just as much. That is Oliver!

Oliver

I don’t have a photograph of Oliver and Jean kissing and that’s me being lazy rather than anything else.

Now for whatever deep-seated reason I won’t give Oliver or any of the other dogs a tongue-to-tongue kiss but I am envious of Jean and Oliver; they both love it!

All of which serves as a preamble to an article from The Dodo on dogs’ mouths! Here it is, and it is quite a lengthy one, so settle yourself down and quietly read it completely:

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Are Dogs’ Mouths Cleaner Than Humans’?

For everyone who kisses their pup on the mouth 😘

By LAUREN TAYLOR, Published on the 24th September, 2021

If anyone has ever shamed you for letting your dog give you a kiss, you might have told them that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans’ mouths. But is that actually true, or is it just something obsessed dog parents made up to justify letting their dogs lick them?

The truth is that dogs’ mouths actually aren’t cleaner than human mouths — but they’re not really dirtier either. We just have different germs.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Jonathan Roberts, a remote veterinarian with DoggieDesigner.com, to find out everything you need to know about dog saliva.

Why dogs’ mouths aren’t cleaner than human mouths.

Your dog’s mouth isn’t exactly clean. Just like people have bacteria living in our mouths, dogs do too.

“Multiple studies have discovered that dogs have many unique and potentially dangerous bacteria and other parasites lurking in their mouths,” Dr. Roberts told The Dodo. “Around 600 different species of bacteria have been discovered in both canine and human mouths.”

The type and amount of bacteria living in a dog’s mouth depends on the level of periodontal (dental) disease present, which is determined by a number of factors, including:

  • Diet
  • Breed (smaller dogs tend to be at greater risk because they have smaller teeth and mouths, leading to more food getting stuck, and they have less bone mass, leading to tooth loss)
  • Frequency of teeth brushing
  • Frequency of professional dental cleaning by a vet

What diseases can you get from dog saliva?

There are lots of bacteria in a dog’s mouth that are different from what humans have in our mouths. Some of these are harmless, but some could make you sick.

Some of the bacteria found in dogs’ mouths that can be dangerous to people include:

  • E. coli, Clostridia, Salmonella and Campylobacter — “[These are] bacteria that can cause severe gastrointestinal illness in people,” Dr. Roberts said. “Dogs are often carriers of these bacteria, yet they do not become ill from them. They usually get these bacteria in their mouths through licking their anuses or ingesting other animals’ feces. Another common source of these illness-causing bacteria is from ingesting raw food.”
  • Pasteurella — This can cause skin infections that can travel to your lymph nodes and cause severe disease, such as cellulitis or meningitis.
  • Capnocytophaga canimorsus — “[This] enters the wounds in skin after being licked by a dog’s tongue,” Dr. Roberts said. “Mostly only immune-compromised people are susceptible to this disease that develops into septicemia [blood poisoning].”
  • Giardia and Cryptosporidium — These are actually protozoa, not bacteria, but they can still make you sick by your dog licking your face and can cause gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • Parasites — If your dog has parasites, such as worms, and licks his anus and then your face, you could contract the parasite.

So what is the risk of getting sick from your dog licking you? Even with all those germs, if you’re healthy and don’t have a compromised immune system, the risk is luckily pretty low.

“Most human immune systems will neutralize these parasites before they can cause illness,” Dr. Roberts said. “Those with weakened immune systems, such as persons going through chemotherapy, persons with HIV, very young and very old people should be more careful around pets.”

Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine if it’s a risk you want to take.

But to be safe, you can follow these steps to avoid getting sick from dog saliva:

  • Keep your dog up to date on his deworming medications and flea and tick medications.
  • Get checked out by a doctor if you get bitten or scratched by a dog.
  • Don’t let a dog lick your wounds.
  • Frequently wash items that your dog’s mouth touches, like toys and food and water bowls.
  • Don’t let your dog lick you if you’re immunocompromised, and don’t let him lick others who are immunocompromised.

Does dog saliva heal wounds?

It’s an old belief that dog saliva heals wounds. But is it actually true?

“There may be some truth to this after all,” Dr. Roberts said. “The action of licking helps to remove debris and necrotic tissue from the wound.”

Dog saliva also contains proteins that can be beneficial in healing.

“Mammal saliva contains a protein called histatin,” Dr. Roberts said. “This protein is able to kill bacteria before they can cause infection.”

Histatins have antimicrobial and antifungal properties and are part of the immune system. They have been found to play a role in wound closure.

But while it’s possible that dog saliva could help to heal a paper cut, you shouldn’t let your dog lick all of your cuts and scrapes — there are much better ways to take care of your injuries, and you always run the risk of infecting your wound instead of making it better.

“I would still not allow my dog to lick my wounds,” Dr. Roberts said. “We have excellent wound care products on the market these days that not only do a better job of keeping wounds clean but also come without the risk of introducing nasty infections or potential parasites.”

How to keep your dog’s mouth clean

If you do let your dog give you occasional kisses (and even if you don’t), you should try to keep his mouth as clean as possible since it’s also important for his health.

You can do this by regularly brushing his teeth and by providing toys that help clean his teeth.

Try this dog toothpaste from Chewy for $4.99.

“The most important way to keep your dog’s mouth clean and healthy is (just like humans) through regular teeth brushing and dental cleaning by a professional,” Dr. Roberts said. “Start introducing your dog to teeth brushing from a young age and aim to brush at least twice a week.”

You can also let your dog chew on dental treats to clean his teeth in between brushing. (These treats received The Dodo’s Paw of Approval, and you can get them from Amazon for $4.98.)

So dogs’ mouths aren’t actually cleaner than people’s, and you shouldn’t let your dog lick your wounds. But if you keep your dog’s mouth and teeth clean, a kiss from your pup every now and then should be fine (if it’s something you’re comfortable with).

We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.

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I suggest that if you want to purchase any of the products described above then you go directly to The Dodo website and place your order via The Dodo.

Overall I find this a very useful article and I am grateful to The Dodo for allowing me to republish it.