Tag: Mother Nature Network

Picture Parade Three Hundred and Four

Photos of theatre-loving dogs.

All taken from this post.

Service dogs from K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs attend a ‘relaxed’ performance at the Stratford Festival, and by all accounts, they loved it. (Photo: K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs & Co.)

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The outing was more about training than culture. (Photo: K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs)

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While the relaxed performance was an ideal environment in which to train these dogs, the festival welcomes service animals at all performances. (Photo: K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs)

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Elvis is ready for the play to begin. (Photo: K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs & Co.)

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Audience members enjoy seeing how focused the dogs are during the play. (Photo: K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs & Co.)

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Some of the dogs rested on the floor between the seats. (Photo: K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs & Co.)

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It just goes to show that there’s no end to the pleasure a dog gets!

Be aware of ‘flat-face’ dogs!

An article on Mother Nature Network is required reading!

Now I have been a subscriber of MNN for some time and while there are plenty of articles about dogs I do not republish them.

This was because ages ago when I asked permission to so do it was not granted.

However this is so important that I’m breaking the code, so to speak, and republishing it.

The original is here.

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By MARY JO DILONARDO
July 10, 2019.

Flat-faced dogs like bulldogs have a hard time breathing in hot, humid weather. (Photo: Lindsay Helms/Shutterstock)

People just seem to love snub-nosed dogs. From bulldogs and pugs to Boston terriers and Cavalier King Charles spaniels, these flat-faced breeds are regulars at the dog parks and stars on social media.

According to the American Kennel Club, French bulldogs and bulldogs are the fourth and fifth most popular breeds in the U.S. (following only Labrador retrievers, German shepherds and golden retrievers). Their faces are just so photogenic and cute.

Breeds with broad, short skulls are called brachycephalic. They have flat faces and large, wide-set eyes that give them somewhat of a baby-like appearance. As common as these breeds are in public, they’re also regular patients at the veterinarian’s office because they’re more likely to have an array of health conditions, often because of breathing problems called brachycephalic syndrome. A survey of five years of Australian pet health insurance claims found that the average annual veterinary bill for a British bulldog was $965 compared to $445 for a mixed breed.

Here are some of the medical problems that come along with those photogenic faces.

Heat and summer

Dogs with short snouts are at a higher risk of heat-related issues because their anatomy makes it harder for them to have easy breathing, especially in the heat and humidity. Make sure to have plenty of water on hand, keep pets in the shade and ideally, indoors, during the hottest hours of the day.

Snoring

Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds often make snoring, wheezing noises. (Photo: fongleon356/Shutterstock)Narrowed nostrils and elongation of the soft palate in snub-nosed dogs obstructs the passage of air through the nose and throat. That’s why these dogs often seem to be making snoring, wheezing or snorting noises. It’s a good idea to make sure your vet closely monitors what’s going on to make sure the noises don’t change or there isn’t an obstruction.

Planes and safety

Because of their breathing difficulties, snub-nosed breeds don’t make good airplane travelers. Some dogs with brachycephalic syndrome may have a narrow trachea, collapsed larynx or other issues that can also hamper breathing, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Some airlines don’t let these breeds fly.

Eye problems

Snub-nosed breeds often have eye problems because their eyes don’t always close completely. (Photo: kotaharu/Shutterstock)

With their big, wide-set eyes, brachycephalic breeds are more likely to develop certain opthalmologic issues. Because they have a shallow eye socket that gives them the “bulging eyes” look, many of these dogs can’t always fully blink. This can lead to dry corneas and corneal ulcers, according to The Kennel Club. Their unusual eye and eyelid anatomy also makes them more likely to have conjunctivitis and eye injuries.

Skin issues

Along with breathing problems, flat-faced dogs are also often more likely to have skin problems, according to an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) analysis of pet insurance claims. It’s because these dogs often have deep skin folds and wrinkles. They are often more likely to have issues with fungal skin disease, allergic dermatitis, ear infections and pyoderma (a painful skin disease with painful pustules).

What are the brachycephalic breeds?

Not sure if that smushy-faced pup is one to worry about? Nationwide Pet Insurance identifies two dozen breeds that fall under the brachycephalyic breed description:

  • Affenpinscher
  • Boston terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels griffon
  • Bulldog
  • Bulldog (Olde English)
  • Bulldog (Victorian)
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniel
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • French bulldog
  • Japanese chin
  • Lhasa apso
  • Mastiff
  • Mastiff (Brazilian)
  • Mastiff (Bull)
  • Mastiff (English)
  • Mastiff (Neapolitan)
  • Mastiff (Pyrenean)
  • Mastiff (Tibetan)
  • Mastiff (Spanish)
  • Olde English bulldog
  • Pekingnese
  • Pug
  • Shih tzu

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There are many more “brachycephalyic breed” dogs than I realised. This was an important article, me thinks. Many, many readers of this place will have one.

 

Dogs can sniff out these medical conditions.

Thank you Mother Nature Network

Our dogs are tremendous!

And a particular credit must go to the dog’s nose. It is many more times more sensitive than our nose, as the following article taken from Mother Nature Network shows. (And I really must stop republishing articles from MNN!)

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6 medical conditions that dogs can sniff out

From cancer to migraines and even seizures, dogs can give us a heads up about a range of human diseases.

Jaymi HeimbuchJAYMI HEIMBUCH   April 10, 2019.

Dogs have millions of smell receptors that can detect countless smells, including the smells of changes going on inside our bodies. (Photo: RedTC/Shutterstock)

Dogs are famous for their sense of smell. With about 220 million scent receptors (compared to our 5 million), dogs can smell things that seem unfathomable to us. They can detect some odors in parts per trillion, and they can detect countless subtleties in scents.

As PBS points out, “Experts have reported incredible true stories about the acuteness of dogs’ sense of smell. There’s the drug-sniffing dog that ‘found’ a plastic container packed with 35 pounds of marijuana submerged in gasoline within a gas tank. There’s the black lab stray from the streets of Seattle that can detect floating orca scat from up to a mile away across the choppy waters of Puget Sound.”

And yes, there are the dogs who have sniffed out medical issues that even doctors weren’t aware of. Dogs can pick up on tiny changes in the human body, from a tiny shift in our hormones to the release of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, released by cancer cells. Researchers and dog trainers are just beginning to understand how dogs do this and how we might put them to work in being our helpers in health care. Here are six medical conditions that dogs are able to smell.
Dog are naturally tuned into their owner’s emotions, but what about signs of ill health? (Photo: sherwood/Shutterstock)

Cancer

Perhaps the condition dogs are currently most famous for detecting is cancer. Dogs have been able to sniff out a variety of types including skin cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer.

There are quite a few stories of a pet dog obsessing about an owner’s mole or some part of their body, only to discover in a doctor’s appointment that the dog was actually sensing cancer. For example, Canada Free Press writes of a 1989 instance when a woman’s “dog kept sniffing at a mole on her thigh, but ignored other moles. In fact, the dog had actually tried to bite off the mole when she was wearing shorts. The woman consulted her doctor, the mole was excised and the diagnosis confirmed a malignant melanoma.”

In the last couple decades, researchers have looked seriously into dogs’ sniffing abilities when it comes to cancers. In studies, dogs have successfully been trained to detect the disease using samples from known cancer patients and people without cancer.

The newest study offers the most startling statistics: Dogs can correctly pick out blood samples from people who have cancer with 97% accuracy, a 2019 study published in Experimental Biology found. Heather Junqueira, the lead researcher at BioScentDx who performed the study, used clicker training with four beagles. The dogs focused their efforts on blood samples from patients with lung cancer, and with one exception, they were highly successful. The sample was small, so BioScentDx plans to continue its work, according to Science Daily.

In a 2006 study, five dogs were trained to detect cancer based on breath samples. Once trained, the dogs were able to detect breast cancer with 88 percent accuracy, and lung cancer with 99 percent accuracy. They could do this across all four stages of the diseases.

Sometimes the dogs can do an even better job than the humans in these studies. According to Penn State News, Nancy Dreschel, a veterinarian in Dairy and Animal Science at Penn State University, tells of an illuminating example: “A scientist was training dogs to detect bladder cancer in humans by smelling their urine. She said a dog alerted them to a sample from a supposedly healthy person who was being used as a control. On reexamination that person was found to have bladder cancer, so the dog caught it before anyone else did.”

Study after study has shown that dogs can detect cancer in people, but it may a while before your doctor employs a hound for your annual checkup. Researchers still don’t know exactly what chemical compounds for different types of cancers the dogs are sensing in these samples to alert to the presence of the disease, and this remains a hurdle both for better training of cancer-sniffing dogs and for creating machines that can more accurately detect cancer in the early stages.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a brain disorder that affects the ability to control sleep-wake cycles. This can mean a person suddenly falls asleep, even in the middle of a task. It’s a dangerous condition, as someone who has an attack could be injured falling to the ground or could have a car accident if it happens while driving.

Mary McNeight, Service Dog Academy director of training and behavior, has been working with narcolepsy service dogs since 2010, and she notes that there’s a scent the dogs pick up on when an attack is coming on. “It’s a biochemical change in the body. We do not know what the particular odor smells like due to the difference between human scent perception and dog scent perception,” she tells Sleep Review.

In a study published in 2013, Luis Dominguez-Ortega, M.D., Ph.D., found that two trained dogs detected 11 of 12 narcolepsy patients using sweat samples, demonstrating that dogs can detect a distinct scent for the disorder.

Service dogs help people with narcolepsy by performing several different types of tasks. They can stand over the person’s lap when an attack comes on, which prevents them from sliding out of a chair onto the floor; they can also stand over the person to protect them if they are out in public, or they can go get help. And most importantly, they can provide a warning up to 5 minutes before an attack comes on, giving their handler a chance to get to a safe place or a safe position.

While large dogs can be helpful in giving a narcoleptic sufferer extra support in balance and mobility after an attack, these dogs don’t have to be big. According to Petful, even medium-sized dogs can do the job. “Theo, a 2-year-old cocker spaniel, has virtually put an end to [Kelly] Sears’ suffering. He can sense when she is about to have a narcoleptic episode and warn her so that she can sit or lie down, waking her after a few seconds with a kiss on her chin. Since arriving two months ago from Medical Detection Dogs, the only organization in Europe that trains narcolepsy service dogs, Theo has proven himself indispensable.”

Dogs can smell all sorts of chemical changes in our bodies, including a drop in blood sugar or the onset of a migraine. (Photo: WilleeCole Photography/Shutterstock)

Migraines

For those who suffer migraines, having a warning before one comes on can mean the difference between managing the problem or succumbing to hours or days of intense pain. Fortunately, some dogs have a talent for sniffing out the signs that a migraine is on the way.

Psychology Today reports on a recent study that asked migraine sufferers with dogs if they noticed a change in their dogs’ behavior before or during a migraine. The results show that “54 percent of the 1027 participants indicated they had noticed changes in the behavior of their pets during or preceding migraines. Nearly 60 percent of these subjects indicated that their dog had alerted them to the onset of a headache — usually an hour or two in advance.” The results are fascinating, though it’s important to point out that the study was conducted with self-reports rather than observation by researchers. Even so, the study shows evidence that many dogs seem to detect and point out a change in their human companion’s health.

According to Kendall Winship, a migraine sufferer with a service dog, “These [migraine alert service] dogs are highly valued because the ability to tell when a migraine is approaching is an innate talent; it can’t be taught. Similar to diabetic alert dogs that can smell when their handler has low blood sugar, migraine alert dogs can hone in on the scent of serotonin, a chemical that skyrockets when the body is about to have a migraine. By alerting to the danger long before their handlers might feel any symptoms, these dogs can warn them to take preventative medication. When Rally looks up at me and whines, I know I have about two hours before the migraine will strike, and if I can take my medication early enough, I might be able to avoid the stroke-like symptoms and incapacitating pain.”

Low blood sugar

Increasingly, dogs are helping diabetics know when their blood sugar level is dropping or spiking. Dogs4Diabetics is one organization that trains and places service dogs with insulin-dependent diabetics. These dogs undergo extensive training to be able to detect and alert their handlers to changes in blood sugar levels.

A 2016 study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that the dogs detect isoprene, a common natural chemical found in human breath that rises significantly during episode of low blood sugar. People can’t detect the chemical, but the researchers believe that the dogs are particularly sensitive to it and can tell when their owner’s breath has high levels of it.

Medical News Today reports that dogs are trained to discriminate between the scent from a previous episode and the scent of a current episode. They detect when their handler is having an issue and alert the person, giving them time to test their blood sugar and take the insulin they need.

A 2013 study published in PLOS One showed that having a diabetic alert dog seems to provide significant improvements in both the safety and quality of life of insulin-dependent diabetics. “Since obtaining their dog, all 17 clients studied reported positive effects including reduced paramedic call outs, decreased unconscious episodes and improved independence.”

There’s still some skepticism about whether or not dogs can accurately alert handlers to a blood sugar change at a level beyond chance, something that can be determined with more studies. Even so, for those diabetics living with alert dogs, the sniffing ability of their companions seems to be a big help.

Seizure

One of the more controversial areas where dogs are used to alert to a medical condition is with seizures. There is growing evidence that dogs can and do detect the onset of a seizure; however, the level of accuracy and, most importantly, our ability to train dogs to alert a handler to an oncoming seizure remains a bit questionable.

As is the case with some other conditions, dogs cannot be trained to predict seizures. We don’t have a way to provide them with a scent or information that can be used for training. We can, however, train dogs how to respond to and assist a handler when a seizure occurs. Some service dogs that are placed with seizure patients do develop the ability to detect when a seizure is coming and can provide an alert if the handler pays close attention to the signals the dog provides. WebMD reports, “Jennifer Arnold, founder of Canine Assistants in Georgia, … says about nine out of 10 of the service dogs her organization has placed develop the ability on their own within a year of placement.”

A small 2019 study found that dogs were able to clearly discriminate a general epileptic “seizure odor.” However the study only involved a handful of dogs and involved odor samples that were collected during a seizure. Researchers pointed out that much more extensive testing would need to be done to see if other dogs would respond similarly and if dogs could predict seizures before they happened.

However, there is some question about how dogs are responding. How Stuff Workspoints out that in 2007, “two small studies in the journal Neurology reported that four out of seven seizure alert dogs studied turned out to be warning their masters of psychological, rather than epileptic seizures. This may not seem like a big deal, but the two disorders are different. A 2006 study revealed that up to 30 percent of patients who suffer from psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are misdiagnosed with epilepsy. PNES, which results from emotional difficulties and can often be successfully treated with counseling, rather than unnecessary and harsh epilepsy drugs. The 2007 study also revealed one instance of seizures being triggered by the patient’s dog’s warning behaviors, indicating another flaw in the reliability of canine seizure prediction.”

A 2003 study concluded that “findings suggest some dogs have innate ability to alert and/or respond to seizures” however, it notes that further research is needed to uncover which seizure patients would benefit from the help of a dog. We also need more research to learn how to train dogs to be as effective as possible. We have to first learn how dogs know when a seizure is coming — are they smelling a change in body chemistry, or are they picking up on behavior changes? — before we can reliably train them to alert handlers before a seizure happens.

Dogs can smell fear and stress, and they can use that ability to help people with issues such as PTSD. (Photo: Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock)

Fear and stress

The age-old notion that dogs can smell fear is an accurate one. Dogs can smell when we are feeling fear or are experiencing an increased level of stress, even if we aren’t showing outward signs. What dogs are smelling is the surge of hormones our bodies release to respond to stressful situations, including adrenalin and cortisol.

Thankfully, this can be used to humans’ benefit, as dogs can signal a handler that they (or someone else) needs to take a few deep breaths. Dogs that alert handlers of the change in their emotional state — a change that often people aren’t even aware they’re experiencing — can help prevent panic attacks and other possible episodes associated with post-traumatic stress disorder or other issues.

Cali is one such dog. DogTime writes:

“This 18-month Rhodesian ridgeback is the first cortisol-sniffing dog on staff at a school. Cortisol is known as the ‘stress hormone,’ and people on the autism spectrum tend to have higher levels of cortisol in their blood. Cali is employed to detect rising cortisol levels in the students. She waits outside of school each morning as the students file by. If she notices anyone with a high level of cortisol in their blood, she will signal to her handler, Casey Butler, a health teacher on staff at The Calais School who is a certified specialist in natural canine behavior rehabilitation and in animal adaptive therapy. When Cali stares at a child, Butler knows that is the signal. She then takes that child aside and works with him or her before a meltdown occurs.”

We still have a long way to go to discover exactly what dogs are smelling about us, let alone how we can train them to be as accurate as possible about a change in our bodies. Even though many details are not yet known, it’s clear that dogs have an uncanny ability to sniff out certain medical issues, and that’s a skill that could be a real lifesaver.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016 and has been updated with new information.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

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Where on earth would we be without these wonderful, clever dogs! Seriously, whether you love dogs or not you cannot deny that they are incredible creatures!

 

Dogs and pets are really good for our health.

A return to a subject of concern to all us humans.

A little under three weeks ago I posted an item Why dogs are so good for us. It was well-received.

Thus another article that I came across on Mother Nature Network recently seems to make good sense; you be the judge!

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Pets are good for your health, and we have the studies to prove it.

By SIDNEY STEVENS
April 6, 2018.

Pets strengthen our hearts, calm our nerves and a whole lot more. (Photo: Kotkot32/Shutterstock)

If you have pets you already know the joy and love they bring to your life. Now science is confirming just how good they really are for you — both mentally and physically.

How do they help? One theory is that pets boost our oxytocin levels. Also known as the “bonding hormone” or “cuddle chemical,” oxytocin enhances social skills, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, boosts immune function and raises tolerance for pain. It also lowers stress, anger and depression.

No surprise then that keeping regular company with a dog or cat (or another beloved beast) appears to offer all these same benefits and more. Read on to discover the many impressive ways a pet can make you healthier, happier and more resilient.

1. Pets help you live longer, healthier lives

Having a dog is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, according to a 2017 study that followed 3.4 million people in Sweden. Researchers studied men and women between the ages of 40 and 80 and followed their health records (and whether they owned a dog) for about a dozen years. The study found that for people who lived alone, owning a dog can decrease their risk of death by 33 percent and their risk of cardiovascular-related death by 36 percent, compared to single people without a pet. Chances of having a heart attack were also 11 percent lower.

2. Pets alleviate allergies and boost immune function

One of your immune system’s jobs is to identify potentially harmful substances and unleash antibodies to ward off the threat. But sometimes it overreacts and misidentifies harmless stuff as dangerous, causing an allergic reaction. Think red eyes, itchy skin, runny nose and wheezing.

You’d think that having pets might trigger allergies by kicking up sneeze-and-wheeze-inducing dander and fur. But it turns out that living with a dog or cat during the first year of life not only cuts your chances of having pet allergies in childhood and later on but also lowers your risk of asthma. A new 2017 study found that newborns who live with cats have a lower risk of childhood asthma, pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

Living with a pet as a child also revs up your immune system. In fact, just a brief pet encounter can invigorate your disease-defense system. In one study, petting a dog for only 18 minutes raised immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in college students’ saliva, a sign of robust immune function.

There’s even some new research that suggests links between the microbes pets bring into our home and the beneficial ones that live in our digestive tract. “Exposure to animal bacteria may trigger bacteria in our gut to change how they metabolize the neurotransmitters that have an impact on mood and other mental functions,” Jack Gilbert, the director of the Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago, told the New York Times. Gilbert is coauthor of a study that found Amish children have lower rates of asthma because they grow up with livestock and the bacteria they host. Gilbert cautions that studies about how pet microbes might affect human gut bacteria is still in early stages.

3. Pets up your fitness quotient

This one applies more to dog owners. If you like walking with your favorite canine, chances are you’re fitter and trimmer than your non-dog-walking counterparts and come closer to meeting recommended physical activity levels. One study of more than 2,000 adults found that regular dog walkers got more exercise and were less likely to be obese than those who didn’t walk a dog. In another study, older dog walkers (ages 71-82) walked faster and longer than non-pooch-walkers, plus they were more mobile at home.

Dog owners who take their canine companions on walks tend to be trimmer and fitter than their fellow dog-less peers. (Photo: AMatveev/Shutterstock)

4. Pets dial down stress

When stress comes your way, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, releasing hormones like cortisol to crank out more energy-boosting blood sugar and epinephrine to get your heart and blood pumping. All well and good for our ancestors who needed quick bursts of speed to dodge predatory saber-toothed tigers and stampeding mastodons. But when we live in a constant state of fight-or-flight from ongoing stress at work and the frenetic pace of modern life, these physical changes take their toll on our bodies, including raising our risk of heart disease and other dangerous conditions. Contact with pets seem to counteract this stress response by lowering stress hormones and heart rate. They also lower anxiety and fear levels (psychological responses to stress) and elevate feelings of calmness. Studies have found that dogs can help ease stress and loneliness for seniors, as well as help calm pre-exam stress for college students.

5. Pets boost heart health

Pets shower us with love so it’s not surprising they have a big impact on our love organ: the heart. Turns out time spent with a cherished critter is linked to better cardiovascular health, possibly due to the stress-busting effect mentioned above. Studies show that dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Dogs also benefit patients who already have cardiovascular disease. They’re not only four times more likely to be alive after a year if they own a dog, but they’re also more likely to survive a heart attack. And don’t worry, cat owners — feline affection confers a similar effect. One 10-year study found that current and former cat owners were 40 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack and 30 percent less likely to die of other cardiovascular diseases.

6. Make you a social — and date — magnet

Four-legged companions (particularly the canine variety that pull us out of the house for daily walks) help us make more friends and appear more approachable, trustworthy and date-worthy. In one study, people in wheelchairs who had a dog received more smiles and had more conversations with passersby than those without a dog. In another study, college students who were asked to watch videos of two psychotherapists (depicted once with a dog and once without) said they felt more positively toward them when they had a dog and more likely to disclose personal information. And good news for guys: research shows that women are more willing to give out their number to men with a canine buddy.

A dog can make you appear friendlier and more approachable to others. (Photo: CandyBox Images/Shutterstock)

7. Provide a social salve for Alzheimer’s patients

Just as non-human pals strengthen our social skills and connection, cats and dogs also offer furry, friendly comfort and social bonding to people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of brain-destroying dementia. Several canine caregiver programs now exist to assist at-home dementia patients with day-to-day tasks, such as fetching medication, reminding them to eat and guiding them home if they’ve wandered off course. Many assisted-living facilities also keep resident pets or offer therapy animal visits to support and stimulate patients. Studies show creature companions can reduce behavioral issues among dementia patients by boosting their moods and raising their nutritional intake.

8. Enhance social skills in kids with autism

One in nearly 70 American kids has autism (also known as autism spectrum disorder, or ASD), a developmental disability that makes it tough to communicate and interact socially. Not surprisingly, animals can also help these kids connect better to others. One study found that youngsters with ASD talked and laughed more, whined and cried less and were more social with peers when guinea pigs were present. A multitude of ASD animal-assisted therapy programs have sprung up in recent years, featuring everything from dogs and dolphins to alpacas, horses and even chickens.

Animal-assisted therapy helps kids with autism and other developmental disabilities learn social skills. (Photo: GoodDog Autism/flickr)

9. Dampen depression and boosts mood

Pets keep loneliness and isolation at bay and make us smile. In other words, their creature camaraderie and ability to keep us engaged in daily life (via endearing demands for food, attention and walks) are good recipes for warding off the blues. Research is ongoing, but animal-assisted therapy is proving particularly potent in deterring depression and other mood disorders. Studies show that everyone from older men in a veterans hospital who were exposed to an aviary filled with songbirds to depressed college students who spent time with dogs reported feeling more positive.

10. Defeat PTSD

People haunted by trauma like combat, assault and natural disasters are particularly vulnerable to a mental health condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sure enough, studies show that the unconditional love — and oxytocin boost — of a pet can help remedy the flashbacks, emotional numbness and angry outbursts linked to PTSD. Even better, there are now several programs that pair specially trained service dogs and cats with veterans suffering from PTSD.

11. Fight cancer

Animal-assisted therapy helps cancer patients heal emotionally and physically. Preliminary findings of a clinical trial by the American Humane Association shows that therapy dogs not only erase loneliness, depression and stress in kids fighting cancer, but canines can also motivate them to eat and follow treatment recommendations better — in other words participate more actively in their own healing. Likewise, new research reveals a similar lift in emotional well-being for adults undergoing the physical rigors of cancer treatment. Even more astounding, dogs (with their stellar smelling skills) are now being trained to literally sniff out cancer.

12. Put the kibosh on pain

Millions live with chronic pain, but animals can soothe some of it away. In one study, 34 percent of patients with the pain disorder fibromyalgia reported pain relief (and a better mood and less fatigue) after visiting for 10-15 minutes with a therapy dog compared to only 4 percent of patients who just sat in a waiting room. In another study, those who had undergone total joint replacement surgery needed 28 percent less pain medication after daily visits from a therapy dog than those who got no canine contact.

Editor’s note: This file has been updated since it was originally published in November 2015.

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Well there’s a list to take note of!

And speaking personally my Jeannie has Parkinson’s Disease. She was diagnosed in December 2015. She is doing really well; in part because of our diet (we are vegan), in part because of the Rock Steady class she attends two mornings a week, and in very large part because we have six very loving dogs.

Case made!

Dogs and seasonal affective disorder.

Back to dogs!

After yesterday’s giant essay I return to something to do with dogs. Albeit, a subject that is in the range of controversial – seasonal affective disorder. As published by Mother Nature Network.

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Can pets get seasonal affective disorder?

Winter can be as hard on pets as it is on people.

SIDNEY STEVENS,  November 12, 2018

If your dog’s mood takes a nosedive when the days grow shorter, it may be a case of seasonal affective disorder. (Photo: Tim Dawson Photography/Wikimedia Commons)

During the shorter, darker days of winter many of us turn lethargic and gloomy. But seasonal affective disorder (SAD) isn’t just a human affliction. The animals we share our lives with may also suffer from something akin to the “winter blues.”

Here’s what experts know about SAD in pets and what you can do to alleviate it. (Hint: Some of the same things that counteract seasonal depression in people also work for our four-legged companions.)

SAD pets

Starting in fall as the days get shorter and sunlight levels decline, many people notice their mood begins to dip. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, SAD isn’t just a weather-related funk, but a type of depression that fluctuates with the seasons and causes unpleasant symptoms like sluggishness, increased appetite, depression, social withdrawal and even suicidal thoughts in the most severe cases. It’s believed that lower light levels prompt a decline in the feel-good brain hormone serotonin and boost the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

No surprise then that pets, with their similar brain chemistry, may also suffer from the same kind of seasonal hormonal havoc.

Not a lot of research has been done on pets, but a survey by a veterinary charity in the U.K. called the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) found that one in three dog owners noticed their pooch seemed down during the winter months. Symptoms ranged from aggressive behavior, inappropriate soiling and less interest in going for walks to lethargy, demand for more attention and increased sleep.

Like humans, cats may suffer from SAD during the winter months and require extra light and activity to head it off. (Photo: Bondesgaarde/Flickr)

Cats also apparently get the winter blues. One-third of cat owners in the same survey said their felines seemed glum in the winter and about one-quarter said their pet ate more.

Is it real?

There’s plenty of evidence that animals suffer from physical afflictions related to seasonal sun deprivation. One is called light responsive alopecia (fur loss that occurs in certain dog breeds during the winter months). But there’s not yet any hard science on whether pets actually experience SAD. Remember, the U.K. study was subjective, based on pet owners’ perceptions rather than rigorous research.

One alternate explanation for SAD-like symptoms in cats and dogs is that they’re picking up on the blue moods of their owners. Studies show that dogs, in particular, recognize human emotions and respond to them.

Or perhaps pets are merely bored during the winter months when they can’t get outside as much. Lack of physical and mental stimulation may push them into listlessness.

Remedies for winter doldrums

Getting pets outside for a regular dose of sunshine during shorter winter days can boost their mood and help ward off SAD. (Photo: Matthias Zirngibl/Wikimedia Commons)

Whether pets are prone to SAD like humans are or they slip into a seasonal slump for other reasons, there are ways to keep their spirits high during the chilly season. In fact, the same fixes that help people beat winter depression might also help their animal companions maintain a brighter mood. Here are some simple things you and your pet can try together.

More indoor light. Open your curtains and shades during the day to let in natural light. Position your pet’s bed near a sunny window and be sure to hang out there, too. Also consider light therapy that mimics sunlight. Buy a full-spectrum light box that covers the electromagnetic spectrum from infrared to near-ultraviolet and plant yourself and your pet in front of it for 30 to 60 minutes a day.

Providing pets with more love and indoor fun during SAD season is good for their well-being — and yours. (Photo: pandabearphotography/Flickr)

Spend quality indoor time together. Engage your pet more when you’re inside during the winter months with new toys, extra play and increased cuddle time. Multitask by enjoying these activities in front of the light box.

Enjoy the outdoors. Take advantage of mood-boosting sunny days by letting your pet go outside during peak daylight hours. Better yet, join in for a romp in the yard or a walk in the park (cats can be leash trained). Outdoor time has the added advantage of allowing pets (and you) to exercise, take in stimulating neighborhood sights and socialize with other people and animals. All are known blues busters.

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Whether or not pets suffer from this disorder isn’t really known, “Whether pets are prone to SAD like humans are or they slip into a seasonal slump for other reasons, ” the fact remains that the winter months for some dogs do have the cause to provide a slump. Whether you have one pets or quite a few, keep a close watch of them and love them through and through.

Not only beautiful …….

……. but also intelligent.

There is something about a Huskie that takes one’s breath away. Not only because of the grace and wit with which they conduct their lives but also because the majority of them are working dogs.

So it was with interest that I read recently about the Huskies and wanted to share it with you all.

Here it is.

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Why do huskies have blue eyes?

New genetic study finally solves the mystery.

BRYAN NELSON,   October 4, 2018.

A happy husky with its characteristic blue eyes. (Photo: Nancy Wong/Wiki Commons)

A dog DNA startup company called Embark, based out of Boston, Massachusetts, and Ithaca, New York, appears to have finally solved the mystery as to why huskies sport their beautiful blue eyes. The study is the first consumer genomics study ever conducted in a non-human model, as well as the largest canine genome-wide association study to date, reports Phys.org.

The key, it turns out, lies in the dogs’ 18th chromosome. A duplication on chromosome 18, near the ALX4 gene, was found to be strongly associated with blue eye color. The ALX4 gene plays an important role in mammalian eye development, so this association is not entirely out of left field. And interestingly, the study also found this same genetic quirk in non-merle Australian shepherds, which also tend to have blue eyes.

This flies in the face of how eye color is usually thought to be determined in dogs. For instance, two genetic variants are known to underlie blue eye color in many dogs, but scientists have long known that these variants do not explain the blue eyes of huskies, thus the mystery.

In fact, even though we’re seemingly in a genomic scientific age, the genetic underpinnings of many traits in non-human animals are still largely unknown, even for humans’ best friends. Embark aims to change that.

For the study, which was performed in partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, researchers used a diverse panel of 6,070 genetically tested dogs, with owners who contributed phenotype data — physical traits of the dogs — via web-based surveys and photo uploads. A comprehensive, consumer-driven survey of this size is largely unprecedented.

“Using genetic data from the pets of our customers, combined with eye colors reported by customers for those same animals, we have discovered a genetic duplication that is strongly associated with blue eye color. This study demonstrates the power of the approach that Embark is taking towards improving canine health,” explained Aaron J. Sams of Embark. “In a single year, we collected enough data to conduct the largest canine study of its kind. Embark is currently pursuing similar research projects in a range of morphological and health-related traits and we hope to continue to use our platform to move canine genetics and health forward in a very real way.”

It’s all in the name of improved health care options for our canine companions, as well as helping curious human owners better understand the origins of their pets. Answering why huskies have blue eyes is just the first such mystery they hope to solve.

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What can one say! They are such beautiful dogs!

Learning about our smaller dogs!

Learning about the way they pee!

We have two smaller dogs in our family, Sweeny and Pedy.

Gorgeous Sweeny!
And equally gorgeous Pedy alongside his mate, Brandy, just visible bottom left.

I am sure many of you have dogs that are smaller then the average dog; whatever that means!

So the article that was published, once again on Mother Nature Network, will strike a chord!

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Why small dogs aim high when they pee?


MARY JO DILONARDO   August 3, 2018.

The phrase ‘aim high’ takes on new meaning when you’re talking about dogs. (Photo: Sukpaiboonwat/Shutterstock)

Take your dog for a walk and you might notice that there’s some urinating involved. The tree. The lamp post. The fire hydrant. This scent marking is a way for your dog to communicate to other canine passers-by.

By sharing and sniffing, dogs are able to get information about sex, reproductive status and the identity of other four-footed visitors who have traveled the same path. Although female dogs do it too, this frequent marking is often done by male pups.

Typically the marking communicates true information about the marker; it’s what researchers refer to as an “honest signal.” When another dog comes along and takes a sniff, the info they get in the message is true.

But new data suggests that in some circumstances, dogs tell little white lies when they lift a leg. Researchers found that little dogs tend to hike high in order to give the impression that they’re bigger than they really are.

Betty McGuire and her team at Cornell University studied this “dishonest signal.” They noticed that smaller dogs tend to urinate more often than larger dogs, and they’re more likely to aim higher when focusing on vertically oriented targets.

In their study published in the Journal of Zoology, they wrote, “Assuming body size is a proxy for competitive ability, small adult male dogs may place urine marks higher, relative to their own body size, than larger adult male dogs to exaggerate their competitive ability.”

Indirect interaction

As anyone who owns a smaller dog knows, size is just a state of mind. (Photo: Little Moon/Shutterstock)

The researchers recorded adult male dogs while they urinated on walks, then calculated the angle of their legs when raised during marking. They compared those calculations to the dogs’ height and mass and measured the height of the urine marks on the dogs’ chosen targets.

“Small males seemed to make an extra effort to raise their leg high—some small males would almost topple over,” McGuire tells New Scientist. “So, we wondered whether small males try to exaggerate their body size by leaving high urine marks.”

As expected, when the dogs lifted a leg at a greater angle, they hit higher on a surface. But they found that small dogs angled the leg proportionately higher than larger dogs, resulting in marking higher than expected for their small stature. The researchers said it’s likely the goal is to deceive other male dogs.

“Direct social interactions with other dogs may be particularly risky for small dogs,” says McGuire.

Because they can’t measure up physically with larger dogs, smaller dogs can establish a virtually larger presence this way.

So they aim high to look big.

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“So they aim high to look big.”

I’m sure there must be a joke somewhere there but can’t find it!!

So closing with another two pics of our little ones.

Pedy

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Pedy in front of Sweeny. Picture taken October, 2016.

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Fifty-Two

The penultimate set of those wonderful Kennel Club photographs.

(As with the previous weeks, words and pictures republished from here.)

 Winning Kennel Club images celebrate dogs from all walks of life

  JACQUELINE GULLEDGE   July 17, 2018.

The fourth selection of these wonderful photographs and the story behind each one.

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Second Place, Portrait

‘Waiting Beauty’ featuring Thalia, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. (Photo: Katarzyna Siminiak)

“This photo was taken during session around Old Market Square in Poznań. I’m still amazed how Thalia was calm and focus despite the city noise,” said Katarzyna Siminiak.

Second Place, Puppies

‘Sticking Together’ featuring Beagle mix puppies. (Photo: Charlie Nunn)

“Since early last year, my partner Raymond Janis and I have had the honour of supporting the Vanderpump Dogs Foundation in Los Angeles by photographing their adoptable dogs. In July 2017, we met these adorable beagle mix puppies,” said Charlie Nunn. “As Raymond tried to wrangle them, something magical happened and I was able to capture a perfect moment of a puppy family sticking together.”

Second Place, Rescue Dogs and Dog Charities

‘Happy Girl Rescued’ featuring Magda, a rescue dog cross breed (Hungarian Vizsla and Labrador Retriever). (Photo: Leslie Plesser)

“This particular image is of my own rescue dog, Magda. She was a bit hesitant and shy when my husband and I came home with our baby, but when the baby went off to nursery school, she would curl up on his rocking chair and roll her fur all over, settling in for a nice nap,” said Leslie Plesser.

Second Place, Young Pup Photographer

‘Dinner?’ featuring Dallas, a Whippet. (Photo: Sienna Millward)

“My name is Sienna Wemyss, I’m 10 years old and I’m from England, UK. When I grow up, I want to be a fashion photographer and designer. I have loved dogs since I first encountered one! There are so many different kinds of dogs and they are all so unique,” said Wemyss. “My dream came true in January this year when I became the proud owner of Dallas, a pedigree Whippet puppy. I was overjoyed!”

“I was relaxing on the sofa one day when Dallas crawled beside me. I put my arms out, expecting him to come and cuddle me. Instead, he gazed at the kitchen dreamily! If he could speak then, I bet he would have said, ‘Dinner?’ He looked very curious, so I grabbed my mum’s phone and captured the moment.”

Third Place, Assistance Dogs and Dog Charities

‘A Veterans Best Friend’ featuring Delta, a White Swiss Shepherd. (Photo: Craig Turner-Bullock)

“I am an ambassador for the Kotuku Foundation for Assistance Animals Aotearoa, who source, train and place dogs with people who have any diagnosed condition that dogs are known to be capable of assisting with. This includes diabetes, head injuries, depression and PTSI and many more,” said Craig Turner-Bullock. “Dion is a veteran who fought, and was injured, at the battle of Baghak in 2012. He experienced PTSI and says that ever since Delta came into his life she has made a huge difference. Dogs assisting veterans are now common around the world, but Delta is the first of her kind here in New Zealand.”

Third Place, Dogs at Play

‘Snowy Shenanigans’ featuring Daffy, Taz, and Wile E., Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers. (Photo: Sarah Beeson)

“We had just moved from one of the snowiest cities (Erie, PA) to the middle of nowhere USA (yes, I love you dear Indiana). I didn’t expect much snow, but come on! It was nearly mid-February and not a flake! My boys were used to lots of snow having lived in Erie but Daffy hadn’t a clue,” said Sarah Beeson. “And then, it happened: Old man winter arrived. Shame on him, while I was at work, no less! By the time 5 pm rolled around, I was in our backyard – Frisbee soaring and camera in hand. Meet Daffy, Taz, and Wile E. We LOVE frisbee!”

Third Place, Dogs at Work

‘I’ve got your back’ featuring Nyx, a German Shepherd Dog. (Photo: Ian Squire)

“For me, the title sums up the image perfectly from both sides. This is a young trainee Police Dog undergoing some initial training. Taken on a miserable, damp day, it shows elements of the bond, trust and relationship that is vital for the partnership between Police Dog and handler,” said Ian Squire.

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Just one more Sunday’s worth to come. Don’t know about you but I shall miss these. They are going to be a hard act to follow!

Saturday special!

Natural fractals!

Back in April, Mother Nature Network carried a wonderful item about the amazing fractals that can be found in nature.

Nothing to do with dogs but all to do with loving and caring for our planet!

I am not going to republish the full article with all the wonderful photographs so if the following piques your curiosity then go here to read the full piece.

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14 amazing fractals found in nature

Take a tour through the magical world of natural fractals and discover the joy of simple complexity.

SHEA GUNTHER   April 24, 2013

A chambered nautilus shell is an example of a fractal found in nature. (Photo: Jitze Couperus/flickr)

When you think of fractals, you might think of Grateful Dead posters and T-shirts, all pulsating with rainbow colors and swirling similarity. Fractals, first named by mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975, are special mathematical sets of numbers that display similarity through the full range of scale — i.e., they look the same no matter how big or how small they are. Another characteristic of fractals is that they exhibit great complexity driven by simplicity — some of the most complicated and beautiful fractals can be created with an equation populated with just a handful of terms. (More on that later.)

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

One of the things that attracted me to fractals is their ubiquity in nature. The laws that govern the creation of fractals seem to be found throughout the natural world. Pineapples grow according to fractal laws and ice crystals form in fractal shapes, the same ones that show up in river deltas and the veins of your body. It’s often been said that Mother Nature is a hell of a good designer, and fractals can be thought of as the design principles she follows when putting things together. Fractals are hyper-efficient and allow plants to maximize their exposure to sunlight and cardiovascular systems to most efficiently transport oxygen to all parts of the body. Fractals are beautiful wherever they pop up, so there’s plenty of examples to share.

Here are 14 amazing fractals found in nature:

(Photo: Rum Bucolic Ape/flickr)

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To view the other 13 fractals then go across to here.

Aren’t they beautiful! Or, to pick up on a sentence in the article: “It’s often been said that Mother Nature is a hell of a good designer,”

Not only a good designer but the provider of life as we know it!

Protecting your dog from dog flu.

Ensuring we are all fully aware of this terrible disease for dogs.

Back in January, 2016 I republished this article when it appeared on Mother Nature News that same month.

But it deserves a re-run. Firstly because there are many more dog lovers reading this blog since then (THANK YOU, EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU) and because the MNN editor has left the following note at the end of this update version: “Editor’s note: This file has been updated since it was originally published in January 2016.”

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What you need to know about dog flu

This highly contagious illness can spread like wildfire. Here’s how to keep your dog safe.

JENN SAVEDGE August 3, 2018.

Most dogs in the U.S. don’t have the immunity to fight off the Asian-based dog flu. (Photo: Lindsay Helms/Shutterstock)

As animal experts around the country amplify their warnings about dog flu outbreaks, pet owners are scrambling to understand the illness and learn how they can protect their pets. The virus has been circulating in the U.S. since 2015, infecting thousands of dogs throughout much of the country. So far in 2018, dog flu has hit every state except Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and North Dakota.

Here’s what you need to know about this potentially deadly disease.
What is the dog flu?

Dog flu — or canine influenza — is an infection caused by one of two virus strains: H3N2 and H3N8. Of the two, H3N2 is more commonly seen in pets in the U.S. It is thought that the strain came from Asia, possibly originating as an avian flu that was transferred to a dog.

Dog flu symptoms

Like the flu that affects humans, the symptoms of the dog flu hit the respiratory system causing coughing, a runny nose, watery eyes and a sore throat. It’s also usually accompanied by a high fever and loss of appetite. But unlike with humans, your dog won’t be able to tell you how bad she is feeling, and you may not notice the symptoms right away. Animal experts say to watch your dog for changes in behavior. If your normally hyper dog seems lethargic or if your pup who is usually enthusiastic about eating starts skipping meals, it’s time to take a closer look.

Dogs who spend a lot of time around other dogs are more likely to be exposed to the virus. (Photo: Dalibor Sosna/Shutterstock)

How does the dog flu spread?

The dog flu virus spreads just like the human flu virus does — through bodily fluids that are released into the air via a sneeze or cough or by touching objects or surfaces that have been contaminated. The dog flu virus can live in the environment for two days.

Dogs that spend a lot of time around other dogs — in dog parks, kennels, shelters, groomers or veterinary clinics — are the most likely to contract the illness.

What to do if your dog gets the flu

Older dogs, younger dogs and dogs that are already sick are the most vulnerable when it comes to the dog flu, not because of the virus itself, but because these dogs are the most likely to develop complications, like pneumonia, that could be fatal. If you think your dog may have the flu, it’s important to check in with your vet to make sure he isn’t getting any worse.

At home, you can keep track of your dog’s temperature by placing a thermometer under her armpit, or for a more accurate reading, in her backside. According to the American Kennel Club the normal range for a dog’s temperature should be between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius.)

Keep the fluids going as much as possible and try to entice your pooch to keep eating. Check with your vet about foods that may prompt him to eat without giving him a stomachache.

More than anything, give your pet plenty of time for R&R. Give her a week or so off from running, walking and other forms of exercise and just let her rest and sleep as much as she needs. Just make sure that she is still drinking, eating a little, and relieving herself.

How you can keep your dog from getting the flu?

The best way to minimize your dog’s risk of getting the flu is to keep her away from other dogs. If you spend time with other dogs, be sure to wash your hands and even change your clothes before interacting with your own dog. While humans can’t contract canine influenza, we can carry the virus on our hands and clothing for up to 24 hours after handling an infected dog.

You could also talk to your vet about a dog flu vaccine, although there is some question about its effectiveness as the vaccine for H3N8 may not offer protection from H3N2 and vice versa.

A potential pandemic?

A 2018 study showed that the influenza virus can jump across species from pigs into dogs, and that influenza is becoming increasingly diverse in canines. The result could someday be a dog-inspired pandemic.

There’s no evidence of any sort of transmission between humans and dogs, but if left unchecked, researchers believe that could one day become a possibility.

“The majority of pandemics have been associated with pigs as an intermediate host between avian viruses and human hosts. In this study, we identified influenza viruses jumping from pigs into dogs,” said researcher Adolfo García-Sastre, Ph.D. of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York in a statement.

For a dog virus-related pandemic to occur, it would have to be transmissible from dogs to people and it would have to be easily spread.

“If there is a lot of immunity against these viruses, they will represent less of a risk, but we now have one more host in which influenza virus is starting to have a diverse genotypic and phenotypic characteristics, creating diversity in a host which is in very close contact to humans,” said García-Sastre. “The diversity in dogs has increased so much now that the type of combinations of viruses that can be created in dogs represent potential risk for a virus to jump to a dog into a human.”

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Our dogs mean so, so much to us. Let us doing everything possible to keep them out of harm!