∙ SPAN Thrift Store is open to the public and looking for donations of adult clothing, household items and tools if you have any of these items you no longer use. SPAN Thrift Store regularly provides $10 spay and neuter clinics for low-income households for cats and dogs. Three upcoming clinics are Thursday, May 5th at 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard; Tuesday, May 10th in the parking lot of Shiells Park, 649 C St., Fillmore and Tuesday, May 24th, also in the parking lot of Shiells Park. Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823.
∙ The loss of a loved one can have a profound impact on humans, affecting everything from sleep patterns to appetite. Now researchers say they have found similar behavior changes in dogs who have lost a canine companion. While the team say it is not clear if the findings can be described as grief, they say the work potentially indicates an overlooked welfare issue.
Dr Federica Pirrone of the University of Milan, who is one of the study’s authors, said: “Dogs are highly emotional animals who develop very close bonds with the members of the familiar group. This means that they may be highly distressed if one of them dies and efforts should be made to help them cope with this distress.”
Expressions of grief are not unique to humans: great apes, dolphins, elephants and birds are among species that have been observed to take part in rituals around death and appear to mourn.
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, Pirrone and colleagues describe how they analysed the responses of 426 Italian adults who completed a “mourning dog questionnaire” online to investigate how canines experience grief.
All of the participants had experienced the loss of one of their dogs while at least one other dog was still alive, and the questionnaire looked at the behaviour and emotions of the owner and their surviving dogs after the death.
The results reveal that 86% of owners said their surviving dogs had shown behavioural changes after the death of another canine in the household.
Pirrone said: “Overall, dogs were reported to play and eat less, sleep more and seek more for owners’ attention.” She said the results did not appear to be affected by the level of attachment between the owner and their dog or whether they humanised their pets, suggesting the owners were not simply projecting their grief.
The team said the changes did not turn out to be linked to how long the dogs had lived together or whether the surviving dogs had seen the corpse.The researchers said there were a number of possible explanations for the findings, including that the death may have disrupted shared behaviors for the surviving dogs.
“In support of this hypothesis we found that if dogs used to share food during life, the surviving dog was more likely to reduce her/his level of activities and sleep more after the loss,” the authors wrote.
The results also revealed behavioral changes were stronger for dogs that were reported to have had a friendly relationship with the animal that had died, or who had been their parent or offspring.
∙ Pet scams
By Shawndrea Thomas
Pet scams are on the rise and the Better Business Bureau has a warning for anyone looking to buy online. Cats, dogs, and birds, you name it, scammers are working overtime to get your money. Denisse Alvarez with the BBB of Southern Arizona says scams are growing by the day and victims are losing thousands of dollars online.
“We’ve seen up to $5,000. It is something that we have seen increase during the pandemic, and it continues we get calls about it all the time,” Alvarez said. “They are selling them for an unbelievable price and people are thinking oh this breed is thousands of dollars and I’m getting it for $500.”
Thieves are preying on those who have spent a lot of time alone during the pandemic and want companionship. One red flag is an excessive line of questioning about where the animal is going. Scammers use this tactic to gain a buyers trust while giving victims a false sense of security.
“Research shows that 80% of those ads are fake,” Alvarez said. “They are sponsored ads, so they put in money to get the sponsor ad out there on social media.”
Alvarez says victims send in a down payment, then suddenly the fake seller is asking for more money to pay for hidden charges like travel and veterinarian fees, fees that start to stack up for a pet that never arrives or doesn’t exist. “People fall in love with those pictures, and they start sending money,” Alvarez said. “The ads that they see online are really enticing for them to pay a low price for the type of breed that they want to get.”
∙ The faces of dogs have evolved over tens of thousands of years to make them more appealing to humans, unlike the wild wolves they descended from, a new study suggests.
The research shows that the facial muscles of dogs have a much higher proportion of “fast-twitch” muscle fibers than wolves, and scientists think this lets dogs more effectively communicate their feelings to their owners.
The same researchers were involved a few years ago in the discovery that dogs have developed a muscle above their eyes that they use to make their eyes look larger and create that endearing “puppy dog eyes” expression. That study found that the muscle was undeveloped in wolves, which suggests that “puppy dog eyes” is something dogs have evolved specifically to manipulate people.
Taken together, the muscle changes suggest dogs’ faces have evolved anatomically to improve their connections with people, said biological anthropologist Anne Burrows, a professor of physical therapy at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and the leader of the project.
“It’s quite a remarkable difference between dogs and wolves,” she said. “They just don’t move their faces in the same way.”
Burrows and animal physiologist Kailey Omstead, a colleague at Duquesne, presented preliminary findings of their research at the Experimental Biology 2022 meeting in Philadelphia.
They found that the muscles in dogs’ faces are 66 percent to 95 percent fast-twitch fibers, while wolves average about 25 percent.
The muscles of all mammals, humans and dogs included, are made of millions of fibers of a protein called myosin. Each muscle has a mix of fast-twitch fibers that contract quickly but are fast to fatigue, and slow-twitch fibers that are slower to contract but don’t tire as fast.
The muscles in human faces are dominated by fast-twitch fibers, so we can express thoughts on our faces in an instant, but not for long.
By Tom Metcalfe
∙With spring planting in full swing, gardeners should keep in mind that not all plant varieties are safe for pets. In fact, some are deadly and should be avoided if there are pets in the household.
Choosing the right plants to make our gardens bloom but also be safe for pets can be a daunting task — some plants are toxic for dogs but not cats, and vice versa, so it is important to do your homework before choosing what to plant.
Some of the most common poisonous plants that should be avoided for pets include:
SAGO PALM: Also known as the Palm Sunday palm, these plants are widely popular in our area, especially this time of year. The entire plant, and the seeds in particular, contain a potent toxin called cycasin that can be fatal, even if the animal only eats a single seed.
Ingestion of any part or amount of this plant warrants immediate emergency veterinarian treatment. Symptoms include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, abnormal fluid accumulation in the abdomen, abdominal pain, jaundice and black-tarry stool. A dog may also experience weakness, seizures, tremors and severe liver failure. Even with aggressive treatment, the survival rate is about 50%.
AZALEAS: Ingesting even a few leaves can cause serious issues such as upset stomach, drooling, loss of appetite, weakness and leg paralysis, and in some cases, coma or death.
HYDRANGEAS: These are poisonous to cats, dogs and horses. All parts of the plant are toxic because they contain cyanogenic glycoside. Signs of ingestion include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, confusion and depression.
BIRDS OF PARADISE: Toxic for both dogs and cats, they also can be fatal for rabbits. They can cause intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing and loss of coordination is possible.
With spring planting in full swing, gardeners should keep in mind that not all plant varieties are safe for pets. In fact, some are deadly and should be avoided if there are pets in the household.