• SPAN Thrift Store is open to the public and looking for donations of adult clothing, household items and tools. SPAN Thrift Store provides $10 spay and neuter clinics for low income households for cats and dogs. Upcoming clinics: Tues., Jan 24, SPAN Thrift Store, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura and Tues, Jan. 31, Albert H. Soliz Library parking lot – El Rio, 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard, 93036. Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823. www.spanonline.org.
• Whether it’s a tricky math problem or an unexpected bill, daily life is full of stressful experiences. Now researchers have found that humans produce a different odor when under pressure – and dogs can sniff it out.
While previous studies have suggested canines might pick up on human emotions, possibly through smell, questions remained over whether they could detect stress and if this could be done through scent.
“This study has definitively proven that people, when they have a stress response, their odor profile changes,” said Clara Wilson, a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast, and first author of the research.
Wilson added the findings could prove useful when training service dogs, such as those that support people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“They’re often trained to look at someone either crouching down on the floor, or starting to do self-injurious behaviors,” said Wilson..
The latest study, she said, offers another potential cue.
“There is definitely a smell component, and that might be valuable in the training of these dogs in addition to all of the visual stuff,” said Wilson.
Writing in the journal Plos One, Wilson and colleagues report how they first constructed a stand bearing three containers, each topped by a perforated lid.
The researchers report they were able to train four dogs to indicate the container holding a particular breath and sweat sample, even when the line-up included unused gauze, samples from another person, or samples from the same person taken at a different time of day.
With the team confident the dogs understood the approach, they turned to breath and sweat samples collected from 36 people asked to count backwards from 9,000 in units of 17. The participants reported feeling stressed by the task and, for the 27 who carried it out in the laboratory, their blood pressure and heart rate rose.
The dogs were taught to pick out samples taken just after the task from a line-up that included two containers holding unused gauze.
The researchers then tested whether the dogs could do the same when the line-up included not only unused gauze but samples taken from the same participant just before the task, when they were more relaxed. Each set of samples was shown to a single dog in 20 trials.
The results reveal that the dogs chose the “stressed” sample in 675 out of the 720 trials.
“It was pretty amazing to see them be so confident in telling me ‘nope, these two things definitely smell different’,” said Wilson.
The team say while it was unclear what chemicals the dogs were picking up on, the study shows humans produce a different odor when stressed – confirming previous research that used instruments to analyze samples.
Wilson added that while the dogs were trained to communicate that they could tell different samples apart, it is possible that even untrained pet dogs might detect changes in odor when a human becomes stressed.
The research has been published in the Federation of European Biochemical Societies Journal.
• As a cat parent, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of common illnesses so you can seek veterinary help for your feline friend in a timely manner if necessary.
Cancer is a class of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably, invade surrounding tissue and may spread to other areas of the body. As with people, cats can get various kinds of cancer. The disease can be localized (confined to one area, like a tumor) or generalized (spread throughout the body).
Diabetes in cats is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin. After a cat eats, her digestive system breaks food into various components, including glucose—which is carried into her cells by insulin. When a cat does not produce insulin or cannot utilize it normally, her blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia, which, if left untreated, can cause many complicated health problems for a cat.
Cats infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) may not show symptoms until years after the initial infection occurred. Although the virus is slow-acting, a cat’s immune system is severely weakened once the disease takes hold. This makes the cat susceptible to various secondary infections. Infected cats receiving supportive medical care and kept in a stress-free, indoor environment can live relatively comfortable lives for months to years before the disease reaches its chronic stages.
First discovered in the 1960s, feline leukemia virus is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats. Because the virus doesn’t always manifest symptoms right away, any new cat entering a household—and any sick cat—should be tested for FeLV.
Spread by infected mosquitoes, heartworm is increasingly being recognized as an underlying cause of health problems in domestic cats. Cats are an atypical host for heartworms. Despite its name, heartworm primarily causes lung disease in cats. It is an important concern for any cat owner living in areas densely populated by mosquitoes, and prevention should be discussed with a veterinarian.
Many pet parents eagerly open their windows to enjoy the weather during the summer months. Unfortunately, unscreened windows pose a real danger to cats, who fall out of them so often that the veterinary profession has a name for the complaint—High-Rise Syndrome. Falls can result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises—and even death.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including cats, dogs and humans. This preventable disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii. There’s good reason that the very word “rabies” evokes fear in people—once symptoms appear, rabies is close to 100% fatal.
Although the name suggests otherwise, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm at all—but a fungus that can infect the skin, hair and nails. Not uncommon in cats, this highly contagious disease can lead to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. Also known as dermatophytosis, ringworm often spreads to other pets in the household—and to humans, too.
Cats can acquire a variety of intestinal parasites, including some that are commonly referred to as “worms.” Infestations of intestinal worms can cause a variety of symptoms. Sometimes cats demonstrate few to no outward signs of infection, and the infestation can go undetected despite being a potentially serious health problem. Some feline parasitic worms are hazards for human health as well.