Category Archives: Professor Scamp Ph.D (Pretty Happy Dog)

Vol. 16, No. 09 – Jan 25 – Feb 7, 2023 – The Pet Page

• 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, Feb. 7th, Albert H. Soliz Library parking lot, El Rio, 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard, 93036; Tues., Feb. 14th, Shiells Park parking lot, 649 C St., Fillmore, 93015, and Tues., Feb. 28th, SPAN Thrift Store parking lot, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura. Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823. www.spanonline.org.

• Researchers from the University of Helsinki assessed the cognitive abilities of over 1,000 dogs from 13 breeds with ten tests. Border Collies scored at or near the top in social cognition, inhibitory control, and spatial problem-solving ability, while Labrador Retrievers scored near the bottom. While prior research has shown that a dog’s breed isn’t as predictive of its personality and behavior as many think, the present study suggests that there are noteworthy differences in certain cognitive abilities.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland put over 1,000 dogs from 13 distinct breeds through a battery of cognitive tests in perhaps the largest laboratory study of canine intelligence ever conducted. Their findings were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Between March 2016 and February 2022, the researcers invited dog owners to bring their one- to eight-year-old pups into a large indoor field to undergo the smartDOG test battery, which was developed by study author Katriina Tiira.

smartDOG features ten separate tests that measure traits like activity level, exploratory behavior, inhibitory control, problem-solving ability, logical reasoning, and short-term memory. In one assessment, which measures social cognition, the owner is instructed to gesture toward a bowl which contains food using different prescribed gestures ranging from emphatic pointing to a simple gaze to see if the dog will understand its caretaker’s hints. In another, a test of logical reasoning, the dog is shown two upside down bowls and a treat, then a visual barrier is placed between the dog and the bowls. The human tester then places the treat in one of the bowls, removes the visual barrier, then lifts up the empty bowl. If the dog correctly reasons that the treat is under the other bowl by moving to it, it is given the treat.

Thirteen breeds, all medium to large in size, each with at least 40 individuals, were assessed. Included were the Border Collie, Belgian Malinois, English Cocker Spaniel, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and the broad category of “mixed breed,” among a few others.

No differences emerged between the breeds in measures of short-term memory and logical reasoning, but differences were found in the categories of social cognition, inhibitory control, and spatial problem-solving ability. At or near the top in all these categories were Border Collies. The medium-sized herding dogs already have a reputation as brainy pooches. Many are capable of learning the names of dozens of objects and can follow detailed commands.

Labrador Retrievers, on the other hand, scored near the bottom of all the breeds in problem-solving ability and inhibitory control. The most popular breed in the U.S., Labradors are lovable, loyal, friendly, and trainable, but not generally considered to be the brightest.

Mixed breed dogs scored near the bottom in social cognition and spatial problem-solving ability, but scored well in inhibitory control, the ability to restrain themselves from performing a behavior that is ineffective but used to be beneficial, effectively testing whether they can alter strategies on-the-fly to attain treats.

There was one glaring limitation to this study of dog intelligence.

“There is a possibility that the differences seen in our study were not based on genetic differences between breeds but rather due to variation in life experiences or training, since these have also been found to influence behavior in cognitive tests,” the researchers wrote. The large sample size should have helped to smooth out this variability, however.

While prior research has shown that a dog’s breed isn’t as predictive of its personality and behavior as many think, the present study suggests that there are noteworthy differences in certain cognitive abilities.

• An international team decided to investigate the purpose of the dog’s tail after studies showed that numerous animals from lizards to squirrels used their tails to pull off impressive maneuvers, such as righting themselves mid-air when falling from trees.

While cats don’t need a tail to flip themselves over and land on their feet, they do use their tails for balance and as counterweights to perform extreme hunting moves in the wild, including rapid, tight turns to keep up with their prey.

With dogs more inclined to stay on the ground, scientists were unclear whether the animals’ tails helped with agile movements or primarily served as waggable communication devices, and/or to fend off unwanted visitors such as flies.

To learn more, Dr Ardian Jusufi – who studies animal locomotion at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart – and his colleagues built a mathematical model that allowed them to check what happens when dogs twist and turn their torsos, and move their legs and tails, when they bound into the air.

Their conclusions appear in a preprint titled: “Tail wags the dog is unsupported by biomechanical modelling of Canidae tails use during terrestrial motion.” In the paper, which has not been peer-reviewed, the researchers describe how the modelling showed tail movements made almost no difference to a dog’s trajectory when it leapt into the air.

The finding suggests that tails are not as critical for agile movements in dogs as they are for other animals. Moving the tail mid-jump, the researchers found, changed the dog’s trajectory by a mere fraction of a degree.

Across the dog family, “It appears the inertial impacts that tail movement has on complex maneuvers such as jumping, have little to no effect,” the authors write. “The utilizing of the tail during jumping … achieves very low amounts of center of mass movement across all species with the largest being under a single degree.”

“We believe that this implies that dogs utilize their tails for other means, such as communication and pest control, but not for agility in maneuvers,” they add.

Dogs notice when computer animations violate Newton’s laws of physics

Dogs seem to understand the basic way objects should behave, and stare for longer if animated balls violate expectations by rolling away for no obvious reason

Vol. 16, No. 08 – Jan 11 – Jan 24, 2023 – The Pet Page

• 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.

“I usually listen to jazz but I’m trying to expand my musical interests.”

• 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.

Vol. 16, No. 07 – Dec 28, 2022 – Jan 10, 2023 – The Pet Page

•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. 3, Albert H. Soliz Library parking lot – El Rio, 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard, 93036; Tues., Jan. 10 at Shiells Park parking lot at 649 C St., Fillmore, 93015 and Tues., Jan 24, SPAN Thrift Store, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura.  Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823. www.spanonline.org.

•According to 2018 statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association, 57% of U.S. households have a pet. About 80% of those surveyed consider those pets to be family members and 17% consider them companions.

Twenty-three million American households added a dog or cat to their households during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And people may have spent more time with their pets during the pandemic.

Knowing all this also means more people are likely to ultimately experience pet loss.

Some folks have a mentality that pets are easily replaced, whereas people are not. That may lead those with strong pet bonds to not talk about their relationships with their pets and their feelings of loss because they may feel they’ll be made fun of.

“I actually hope that providers are able to start including companion animals as support systems,” Crossley said. She envisions them “really starting to have the conversation from the get-go of who are your support systems and do you have any companion animals and what role do you see they play in your life, in your mental wellness or in your stress?”

Rolland said counselors may be able to employ different strategies depending on whether the individual is a child who considered the pet a confidante, a widow or widower who saw the pet as their last connection with a loving spouse, or someone with disabilities who relies on the companion animals.

In fact, according to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, last year more than 7,000 pets were potentially exposed to drugs – a 60% increase from the year before. Marijuana toxicity takes the top spot.

Dr. Centola says signs that your dog may have ingested something: vomiting, wobbliness, struggling to breath, seizures or collapsing.

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, Dr. Centola says to take them to the veterinarian or ER right away for treatment.

“Most of the time with these types of toxicities, with aggressive supportive care treatment, most of the time these pets have a good prognosis and are ready to go home within one to three days,” he said.

•Walking is healthy for you and your dog. Not only is it physical activity, but it’s mental stimulation for your dog to smell, see and hear beyond the limits of your yard. Walking helps preserve your pet’s muscle tone and joint movement. If your pet is overweight or obese, walking can be a great way to shed those extra pounds.

The following tips can help you design a safe walking program for your dog…or even for your cat. (Yes, it is possible to train a cat to accept a harness and go for walks!)

Consult your veterinarian before starting any new exercise program with your pet. You need to make sure your pet is healthy enough for the exercise you plan.

Train your dog to behave on a leash, and seek help to address any behavioral problems.

Begin with short, frequent walks, and take frequent rests as needed.

If your pet seems to just want to go back home, try driving to a nearby park or less familiar area for your walks.

Remember that walks are also a means for your dog to enjoy his/her environment; allow your dog to take “sniff breaks” within reason.

Build gradually to one or more 15 minutes periods of brisk walking, then allow for cool-down time and recovery.

Avoid walks during the hottest parts of the day during warmer weather. Learn the signs of heat stress (Your veterinarian can teach you!) so you can recognize and address any problems that occur.

During warm, sunny weather, avoid hot surfaces – such as asphalt – that can burn your pet’s feet.

Avoid walks during the coldest parts of the day during cold weather, based on your pet’s cold tolerance. Learn to recognize signs of frostbite and hypothermia so you can address any problems that occur.

Walk on safe footing to avoid slips, falls or injuries.

Avoid deep sand or similar footing because it can cause fatigue and injuries.

If your pet shows signs of lameness, difficulty breathing, or seems to tire quickly, consult your veterinarian.

Obey leash laws, and always clean up after your dog.

Starting an exercise program for your pet

You’ve probably seen the warnings on fitness equipment that instruct you to consult your physician before starting an exercise program. The same applies to your pet, for good reason; it’s best to make sure that your pet is healthy enough to begin an exercise program and that the program is tailored to fit your pet’s health needs. Not sure where to start with your pet’s exercise program? Start with your veterinarian! In addition to walking, there are other opportunities for exercise programs that you can do together with your pet.

If your pet is recovering from injuries, talk to your veterinarian about exercise options (water treadmill sessions, swimming, etc.) that provide no- or low-impact exercise and can be used in the short term and/or incorporated into your pet’s exercise regimen.

America’s four newest search teams, from our neighbors the Search Dog Foundation now join SDF’s national roster.

Vol. 16, No. 06 – Dec 14 – Dec 27, 2022 – The Pet Page

Happy holidays from doggy heaven.

by Julia Bayly

Holidays can be busy with people coming and going, an abundance of seasonal food and a higher level of home activity. All of this makes it joyous for people, but the furry and feathered members of the family may find it a bit much.

The last thing you want are holiday festivities resulting in a missing pet or an emergency trip to a veterinarian.

There is no reason pets should not be a part of family gatherings or parties, according to veterinarians. All it takes is some planning and making sure you know and respect your pets’ limits.

A cat’s natural curiosity makes anything string-like an issue. That includes tinsel tree decorations or ribbons on wrapped packages. They want to play with anything stringlike and they can ingest it.

Another string-shaped hazard are Christmas lights and the extension cords that power them. Keeping wires covered prevents pets from chewing on them and risking shocks and electrical burns.

Ornaments — especially treasured heirlooms and glass decorations — should be hung higher up on a Christmas tree and out of reach of playful cats or rambunctious dogs who may knock them down. The last thing you need are shards of broken glass all over the floor that can slice pets’ or people’s feet. Glass can also be very dangerous when ingested by pets.

The safest thing is to avoid putting any decorations on the lower branches of a Christmas tree.

The tree can be a danger on its own, according to veterinary professionals. Cats in particular may be delighted to have an indoor tree to climb and explore or to use as a scratching post. It’s a good idea to use a sturdy tree stand and to tie the top of the tree to wall or ceiling hooks to prevent it falling over thanks to a cat in the branches.

Block off any access to the water for the tree because it can upset dog and cat stomachs. And swallowed tree needles can get stuck in your pet’s digestive system and need to be surgically removed.

The very nature of a holiday gathering makes it a bit of a minefield for cats and dogs.

Guests often bring large bags or purses into the house and set them on the floor.

Most pets are curious and will want to nose around inside anything within reach. So keep bags and purses off the floor so your pet can’t get any holiday food in shopping bags or medications, candy or gum in a purse.

It’s also a good idea to routinely scan your floor and make sure there are no small, plastic toys or batteries around that a dog could pick up and chew or swallow. Batteries contain zinc that can cause renal damage in dogs. Chewing on hard plastic toys or game pieces can break a dog’s tooth.

Food is a huge part of the holidays and all those wonderful smells are as inviting to your pet as they are to you.“Especially for dogs I like to talk about treats,” Townsend said. “Chocolate is one really to watch out for — it probably won’t kill them, but in large enough amounts it can make your dog sick or even cause seizures.”

By Traci Howerton

Considering adding a new pet to the family this holiday season? Pets are a great investment, providing countless hours of joy, entertainment and companionship. However, they do come with a financial commitment.

Ongoing costs should be taken into account when deciding if a new pet is right for your family. Before making the long-term commitment of pet ownership, know what the many expenses will involve.

Pet care is something that should have a continuing spot in the household monthly budget. The costs vary greatly depending on the type and number of pets. Planning ahead is a great idea so that all routine expenses are accounted for, as well as the unexpected costs that may come up from time to time.

I can tell you from personal experience as the owner of two senior pets that, as they age, the expenses are greater, the trips to the vet are more frequent, and pets can generally become more high maintenance. We currently have three vets — one primary and two specialists — for two dogs!

Vet visits will be one of the biggest expenditures in the pet-care budget. Plan for regular check-ups and vaccinations, as well as monthly heartworm and flea preventatives.

Puppies and kittens will initially need several rounds of vaccinations and spay/neuter. They will also need to be microchipped.

Most rescues and shelters take care of the initial vaccinations, spay/neuter and microchipping and include these expenses, typically at a discounted rate, in their adoption fees.

Keep in mind that, just like humans, pets may need an unexpected trip to the vet for an ailment or injury, so budget for these unplanned costs as well.

HealthDay News — Anyone who’s ever loved a pet like a member of the family knows that the grief when that dog, cat or other furry friend dies can be devastating.

But too often, finding others who truly understand and support that sense of loss can be challenging.

Michelle Crossley, a mental health counselor, and Colleen Rolland, a pet loss grief specialist, have each experienced deep bereavement after losing a much-loved pet.

Rolland is a pet loss grief specialist for the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB) and has a small private practice in Ontario, Canada. She said her own loss of a beloved Golden Retriever left her “in a puddle on the floor.”

As a pet loss grief specialist, Rolland is trained specifically in the extreme grief over the loss of a pet, but when that loss triggers feelings about childhood grief or other traumas, she and others like her refer those individuals to a trained mental health specialist.

One of the reasons for the paper was an awareness that not all mental health specialists understand the depth of the human-animal bond, and so are not able to provide what feels like an emotionally safe environment for someone experiencing that grief, Rolland said.

“That person just turns even more inward and the grief and the suffering just continues to go on,” she added.

Pet loss is just one type of loss that is not as widely acknowledged or given attention by society, according to the study authors. Among the others are death by suicide or from AIDS and pregnancy loss/miscarriage.

Grief may become more complicated when it’s ‘disenfranchised,’ Rolland said.

A disenfranchised grief is one that is important to the individual, but which is unacknowledged as important by society and not needing the same social support, the report noted.

Vol. 16, No. 05 – Nov 30 – Dec 6, 2022 – The Pet Page

• It feels like dogs know just when we need them most. Well, they might, experts say

By Madeline Holcombe

When a family arrived at Koch Funeral Home in State College, Pennsylvania, to identify a loved one before cremation, Monroe took note — staying back to maintain the people’s privacy but ready to offer comfort if asked.

Monroe isn’t a grief counselor or therapist. She’s an Australian Shepherd and resident therapy dog at the funeral home.

“She has this affinity toward people who might be experiencing grief. She is drawn to them.”

Sure enough, when members of the family came out, they saw Monroe and asked to say hello. Petting her opened them up to telling others about their loss.

Petting a dog boosts activity in the frontal cortex of the brain, where thinking and planning occurs.

Some research has suggested that dogs, whether trained therapy and service animals or just friends in our homes, have a positive impact on human lives, said Colleen Dell, the research chair in One Health and Wellness and professor at the University of Saskatchewan.

Just 10 minutes spent with a dog helped reduce patients’ pain, according to a March study for which Dell served as lead author.

People often don’t talk about what they’re going through when grieving, Hook said. The process of mourning is as unique to a person as a fingerprint, and many don’t know how to be there for others who are going through it, she added.

For many people, dogs can offer intuitive, unconditional and loving support in times of grief, Dell said.

“We don’t give them the credit that’s due,” Dell said of the animals that provide needed support. “We don’t understand them to the extent that we should. When you start to pull it apart, there’s just so much going on there.”

• Canine cancers give clues about human health risks.

UQ researchers say dogs are a better proxy for human health than many people realize.

University of Queensland researchers are looking to dog owners for data on protecting pet and human health from environmental hazards.

Veterinary pathologist Professor Chiara Palmieri from UQ’s School of Veterinary Science is examining risk factors for canine health in Australia with a focus on chemical exposure, indoor air quality and outdoor air pollution.

“Pets can be the proverbial ‘canary in the coalmine’ when it comes to human health risks,” Professor Palmieri said.

“We love our dogs, but sadly they’re often the first to suffer from environmental health hazards in our households.

“A classic example is a dog developing mesothelioma after their owner’s house renovations reveal asbestos, or from over-application of certain flea repellents which can contain asbestos-like fibers.

“Chemicals like those found in tobacco smoke or garden products also put dogs at risk of common cancers like lymphoma or cancer of the bladder.”

Professor Palmieri said gathering data on canine exposure to environmental hazards is crucial to understanding the origin of spontaneous cancers.

“We’re working on the principle that if it’s toxic to our pets, it will be toxic to humans as well,” she said.

Professor Palmieri said dogs are a better proxy for human health than many people realise.

“Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, or even more,” she said.

“We estimate that a quarter of dogs will develop cancer at some point, increasing to almost 50 per cent of dogs over the age of 10.”

Professor Palmieri said canine cancer rates are rising, and for some of the same reasons as humans.

“Things like longer lifespans, more focus on health indicators, increased use of diagnostic tests and the isolation of specific exposure risks,” she said.

“If we can better understand the chronic exposures that are risky to dogs, we can do a better job of preventing them and decrease the incidence of certain tumours.”

Professor Palmieri’s research team has devised a brief survey for dog owners.

“We’re compiling basic information about a dog’s age, sex, breed, weight and vaccination status, grooming routine and the flea/tick control products used,” she said.

“But we’re also noting the location of the house, whether anyone in the house smokes and if the dog is exposed to herbicides and pesticides.

“It’s important to gather this data so we can better protect our canine companions while protecting ourselves at the same time.”

• Jeanette Pavinifeb

Over my 20-plus years of consumer reporting, one of the most common questions has been if pet insurance is worth the cost.

Unforeseen veterinary bills can come as quite a financial blow, so having pet insurance can well be worth it. But it wasn’t until I adopted my own dog that I realized the benefits and peace of mind that comes along with pet insurance. So, now the question becomes what type of pet insurance is best.

If you are on a budget, you can look for a policy that would take care of your pet in the event of something catastrophic. Each company will have their own list of what qualifies as catastrophic. Find out the deductibles and find out if all related care is covered.

For a general pet insurance policy there are certain questions you should get the answers to before signing up. There are policies in which once you pay the deductible for a particular condition, that deductible lasts for the entire time your pet is being treated for the condition. One advantage is if the condition is going to be with your pet for the rest of its life, you won’t have to pay a new deductible every year. This type of policy worked out very well for me. My dog developed a heart condition that was luckily caught very early. I paid the initial deductible, which was basically the cost of the echocardiogram, so I no longer will have to pay a deductible for this condition. Additionally, the medication that he will be on for the rest of his life, future echocardiograms and anything else related to this heart condition will be covered at 90%. That can add up to a significant savings. Compare the deductible plan for each policy you are considering. Some plans may offer annual deductibles which could work better for your needs.

One of the most important things to check before signing on the dotted line is the pre-existing condition clause. I have heard from a lot of people over the years that when it came to getting treatment for their pets, they were denied coverage because the treatment was for a pre-existing condition. Another question to ask is how the insurance company deals with diseases or conditions that are inherent to a particular breed. I did a story once on a woman who had a Bernese mountain dog. Her dog needed to have a surgery, but the insurance company denied the claim because certain genetic conditions were not covered. The bottom line is to find out if there are any exclusions for your pet.

Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection.

Vol. 16, No. 04 – Nov 16 – Nov 30, 2022 – The Pet Page

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:  Tuesday, Nov 22nd, Albert H. Soliz Library parking lot – El Rio, 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard, 93036 and November 29th, SPAN Thrift Store, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura.  Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823. They are also having a handmade quilt raffle. Tickets are $1 each. Drawing is on Nov, 20th. www.spanonline.org.

∙ November is ‘”Adopt a Senior Pet” month and local shelters are encouraging families to consider adding a furry friend to their home, especially one in need of some extra love.

There are a lot of perks to having a senior pet which includes being able to give them the chance to feel a lifetime of love and having to do less work training and teaching them.

Since senior pets are fully grown, ASPCA said owners will be immediately aware of important information like personality type and grooming requirements, making it easier to choose the perfect pet for your family.

Senior dogs and cats often go unnoticed in shelters next to puppies and kittens and when you adopt one, you’re not only welcoming a lifetime of love into your home, but you’re also saving a precious life.

∙By Kiana Burks

“It can be fairly simple. It feels really complicated,” said Dr. Erika Bruner, a Veterinarian based in central Vermont.

According to Dr. Bruner, Elderly pet care is about maximizing comfort in the activities of everyday life- with love, connection, and a bit of humor.

“My message is all about trying to bring peace to everybody both the animal and the person iand trying to help them connect,” said Bruner

Which is why she’s dedicated to opening conversations and spreading knowledge about this difficult time in both pet and owner’s life

“I feel like we really have a good grasp on the technological aspects of medicine and what we need to take care of pets as they age in that way. But the way things are structured in a clinic, it’s often hard to find the time to spend a long time with people to really have an in-depth conversation about their aging animals,” said Bruner

The purpose of the program was to help ease people into thinking about the difficult decisions they may have to make for their pets specifically surrounding illness, death, and end of life care. 10

In the program, Dr. Bruner spoke of some of the challenges of owning a geriatric pet, and some low-tech solutions that may be available. Those in attendance say the program was comforting and informational

“I think sometimes we feel alone in these things. You know, and I think this group, even those that didn’t maybe raise a question or make a comment. I think there was such camaraderie with all of us, everybody that came in I knew that they were grappling with some of these issues,” said Judy Byron, a pet owner and program coordinator of the Waterbury Library.

And say they feel less alone and insecure about having to go through the difficult end of life decision-making processes

“What I got out of it so wonderfully is that you can’t make a wrong decision. I think sometimes we obsess about is it time is it not time… I am empowered in going forward and I can reveal their decision that’s right for my family and my path,” said Byron.

∙We may finally have the basis of a dog allergy vaccine

David Nield

Scientists are working hard to make pet-related sneezes and sniffles a distant memory, and there’s promising news from researchers analyzing the potential for a vaccine against dog allergies.

In what’s being described as a first step in developing such a vaccine, a team in Japan has identified certain parts of molecules that may be responsible for causing an allergic reaction in people whenever a dog is around.

Once these molecular sections have been spotted and isolated, they can potentially be targeted by a vaccine that lessens the immune response they trigger. These sections are technically known as epitopes – strings of amino acids that compose part of the protein that our bodies perceive as a threat.

Using a technique called X-ray crystallography (where X-ray diffraction reveals the crystal structure of a material), the team was able to determine the structure of the Can f 1 protein in its entirety, something that hasn’t been done before.

For someone with a dog allergy, the epitopes the scientists are looking for can be thought of as being like puzzle pieces that fit with matching pieces constructed by our on immune system – antibodies carried by B cells, or T Cells – for easy identification. It’s essentially hunting down the cause of the allergic reaction.

We’re still at the very early stages with this, so dog allergy sufferers may have to carry on avoiding close contact with pooches for a while yet – but we could one day look back on this as the first important step towards a working vaccine.

∙ Dogs are helping researchers find endangered orchids in Arizona

The Desert Botanical Garden and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have teamed up with two specially trained dogs to use their super sniffers to locate endangered orchids.

The orchid grows in extremely dense vegetation, making it hard for humans to spot, DBG conservation collections manager Steven Blackwell tells us.

The dogs are part of a California-based program called K9inScentive that trains them to detect specific plants and wildlife.

Why it matters: The orchids are an important part of the desert ecosystem, but they grow in ciénegas — a type of desert wetland that is disappearing because of the western megadrought.

The plant has been endangered since 1997 and has been found in only two places in Arizona since 2016.

When DBG researchers find them, they can collect some of their seeds so they can grow and reintroduce them.

Because this plant is so rare, Muon and Circe had to learn how to track them by practicing with a similar orchid that grows in Nevada, Blackwell says.

Their trainer taught them to identify different parts of the plant, from the root to the flower.

Blackwell says the researchers were unsure whether the plant they practiced with would smell the same as the endangered one, but within 10 minutes of their first outing in Arizona, Muon and Circe alerted handlers that they’d found something.

At first, researchers didn’t see anything, but after digging into the wetland, lo and behold, there was an orchid.

“They knew where it was and we had to look around all over the place,” he said.

Muon and Circe are back in California now but will continue practicing with the orchids ahead of next summer’s trip to southern Arizona.

Blackwell says he’d also love to use the pups to locate endangered cacti in the future.

Parting shot: “If it takes dogs to get people interested in plants, then whatever it takes,” he said.

Vol. 16, No. 03 – Nov 2 – Nov 15, 2022 – The Pet Page

Cats respond preferentially to the voice of their owner

Indoor cats react when their owners speak in a high-pitched “kitty voice” – such as by moving their heads and ears more – but not when strangers do so.

Unlike dogs, which respond to speech directed at them whether it is from their owners or from strangers, cats only seem to respond when the speaker is their owner. This may suggest that cats and their owners bond through their own unique form of communication, says Charlotte de Mouzon at University Paris Nanterre in France.

De Mouzon and her colleagues tested the behavior of 16 cats, nine males and seven females, living in studio apartments either as single pets with a female owner or as pairs of cats with a heterosexual couple. The cats ranged in age from 8 months to 2 years old, and their owners were all veterinary students at the National Veterinary School in Alfort, near Paris.

The team recorded the owners calling their cats by name in a high-pitched voice, as they would normally. The owners were also asked to say things in French relating to one of four contexts. These included: “Do you want to play?”, “Do you want to eat?”, “See you later!” and “How are you?”. The team then recorded the pet owners saying the same phrases to people, now using the style of speech they would typically use with friends or adult family members.

Sixteen women – not known to the cats – also had their voices recorded as they said the same four things to adult humans and to cats that they saw in videos in de Mouzon’s laboratory, using the same styles of speaking as the cat owners.

The cats heard all the recordings in their own homes, with their owners present but not interacting with them. When they heard the voices of their owners, the cats tended to interrupt their behavior and begin doing something else, such as looking around, moving their ears and tails, or even becoming completely still.

Even when they heard strangers speaking to them in a high-pitched, affectionate manner, calling them by name and inviting them to play or eat, the cats essentially ignored them, says de Mouzon. However, that could be related to the fact that all the cats were exclusively indoor pets, with few opportunities to interact with strangers, she says.

The findings provide further evidence that cats have strong social cognitive skills and that they are “sensitive and communicative individuals”, she says.

We know that they react to this kind of speech and it’s a good way for cats to know that we’re addressing them,” says de Mouzon. “So, we should feel confident about speaking to our cats with this kind of ‘baby talk’.”

Journal reference: Animal Cognition, DOI: 10.1007/s10071-022-01674

Dr. Lori Teller, a clinical associate professor of telehealth at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says there are several foods people should avoid giving their pets, but especially any foods containing xylitol.

Anything that contains xylitol should never be given to dogs,” Teller said. “It is extremely toxic and can lead to liver failure and death. It is a common replacement for sugar in many human foods, but it is so toxic to dogs that there has been legislation filed in Congress to require that any products containing xylitol be labeled as such. The bill is titled the Paws Off Act of 2021.”

Traditional holiday cooking and baking ingredients also can be dangerous for pet consumption. Some such items include chocolate, especially dark or baking chocolate; grapes or raisins; fatty foods; macadamia nuts and walnuts; bones; alcohol; raw dough; seeds and pits from fruits (such as apples, apricots, cherries, peaches); caffeinated products; avocado; and onions and garlic.

Any dangerous foods should be stored in a pet-proof cabinet, pantry, or container,” Teller advised. “Some pets are ‘counter-surfers’ and will jump up on a counter to steal something that smells irresistible.

Teller said that while some foods should be avoided in pet consumption at all costs, such as products containing xylitol and grapes or raisins, the effects of other foods are dose-dependent.

One example is chocolate,” she explained. “If your healthy Labrador retriever gets a hold of a couple of milk chocolate M&Ms, then the risk is pretty low for any problems. However, if the dog eats a couple of squares of baking chocolate, there is a much higher risk of toxic effects and you should seek veterinary care. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian.”

While some traditional holiday eats and treats are dangerous for pets, others can be enjoyed together in celebratory moments. “These include most fruits (minus the seeds or pits), such as apples, bananas, blueberries, and watermelon. Most vegetables are healthy as well, including carrots, green beans, chickpeas, lettuce leaves, and cucumbers,” Teller said. “White rice and plain bread in small quantities are also acceptable. Cooked chicken, turkey or fish, without the skin or bones, is also safe for pets.”

Any treats or human foods given to pets should not exceed 10% of their dietary intake,” Teller shared. “More than this and their diet may become nutritionally unbalanced. It is always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian to make sure foods that you want to give your pet will be safe, especially if your pet has an underlying health problem.”

Keeping your pet away from potentially toxic foods may also involve educating children and visiting relatives, or even keeping the pet out of the kitchen entirely. Keeping your pet’s safety top of mind will help ensure that the entire family has a happy, healthy holiday season.

If you find yourself in a situation this holiday season where your pet has consumed something potentially detrimental to their health, The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control can be reached at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline can be reached at (855) 764-7661.

Pet Talk is a service of the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

Vol. 16, No. 02 – Oct 19 – Nov 1, 2022 – The Pet Page

Search Dog Foundation (SDF) -When Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on September 28, it did so as a Category 4 with 150 mph winds.

Even viewing a model, it’s easy to imagine how entire towns can be wiped out and residents trapped under debris, a sobering reminder of the importance of our mission. Over the years, our SDF teams have deployed to Ian and hundreds of other disasters to ensure no one is left behind.

Three SDF teams were among hurricane Ian response.

With your support, we continue to keep our teams and the next generation of first responders prepared and ready to act when communities need them.

We had three teams deploy in response to Hurricane Ian: Karen Meadows & Jax and Shawn Hall & Manion of Virginia Task Force 2, and Ed Ruiz & Harper of California Task Force 2. Notably, all three teams are relatively new to the roster, partnered in the last eighteen months.

New does not mean green, though. Even after the leashes of search dogs are handed off to their first responder partners, the teams have ongoing support and instruction from our dedicated canine training staff. These three teams had been training consistently for any disaster they might encounter and were well-prepared and ready to join their task forces when the call came.

After 15 days in Florida, all canine teams have demobilized from the Hurricane Ian incident and returned home. The many days of searching through homes ripped from their foundations, boats stranded inland, and streets unrecognizable with debris become a blur amid such widespread devastation. However, like the resilience and determination we look for in our search dogs, many human rescuers worked day in and day out until they completed their mission. We are incredibly proud of these teams and thankful for their sacrifice and their service.

We are celebrating National Make A Dog’s Day on October 22. We use this day to ensure that the dogs around us enjoy themselves as best as possible. This is a day to spread information about dogs’ importance in our lives and how much they can improve our days with love and loyalty. We also use this day to encourage people to adopt from shelters and provide a better life for at least one puppy. We mean the world for a dog, and it is time we ensure they get everything they deserve.

Is it safe for cats to drink milk?

By Charles Q. Choi

Cats are commonly shown lapping milk from saucers. But can they safely drink milk?

The popular image of cats drinking milk may have emerged during the 19th century, when cats and dogs became popular subjects for artists. As the Industrial Revolution progressed and more people migrated to cities, the number of cat and dog owners grew, and artists were increasingly called on to paint charming works of pets. As such, French artist Alfred-Arthur Brunel de Neuville often drew cats drinking from bowls of milk, and his work proved very popular during his lifetime, according to Rehs Galleries in New York City.

However, giving milk to adult cats might actually do more harm than good to them, according to Britain’s leading veterinary charity, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals. Cats often lose their tolerance for lactose, the sugar found in milk, when they get older, just as most humans do.

“For most cats, the ability to digest lactose declines after weaning,” Nathalie Dowgray, head of the International Society of Feline Medicine in the United Kingdom, told Live Science. “As a result, milk can cause digestive issues in cats and lead to symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting.”

Some cats may keep the ability to digest lactose into adulthood, just as some people do, Dowgray noted. Still, “there are no additional nutritional benefits to giving your cat cow’s milk if they are fed a high-quality complete and balanced cat food,” she said.

In addition, cow’s milk is full of fat. A saucer of milk for a cat “is like you eating an entire 12-inch pizza,” the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals noted. As such, cow’s milk can lead a cat to become overweight, Dowgray said.

Cats may still crave milk despite the problems it causes because they may connect it with positive memories from their time as kittens, according to Hastings Veterinary Hospital Burnaby, British Columbia. They may also simply like the taste of the fat in it, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals noted.

Nearly one in three pet dogs suffer from these ADHD-like repetitive behaviors — and researchers now suspect that an animal’s home life could be the cause.

A study involving thousands of Finnish pet dogs found that certain factors make a canine more likely to develop repetitive behaviors, including:

  • Belonging to a first-time dog owner.
  • Living in a larger family.
  • Being the only dog in a family.
  • Getting little exercise.

These repetitive behaviors can range from the annoying to the actively harmful.

Dogs can injure themselves by licking or chewing a paw, or break a tooth lunging at a glimmer of light on a wall, said Erica Feuerbacher, an associate professor who studies domestic dog behavior at the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in Blacksburg, Va.

Feuerbacher herself ran into such trouble while transporting a rescue Belgian Malinois, because she didn’t know that the dog was a “light chaser.”

“We had just had her loose in the back of my car, kind of tethered but not in a crate,” Feuerbacher recalled. “And my phone flashed, caught a light, and she leapt into the driver’s seat — while I was driving! I had a mesh barrier up between the front seats and the back of the car, but she launched herself over it!”

She added: “Luckily my husband was able to catch her and restrain her. We pulled over right after that and he sat in the back with her the rest of the way” to keep her settled, so those lights didn’t cause an accident.

For the study, Sulkama and her colleagues gathered questionnaire data on almost 4,500 Finnish pet dogs and their owners.

About 30% of the dogs in the study engaged in repetitive behaviors, the researchers found, and the likelihood of these behaviors was associated with a dog’s home and lifestyle.

For example, dogs that are their owner’s first canine companion are 58% more likely to develop repetitive behaviors than ones that belong to veteran dog owners, results show.

Vol. 16, No. 01 – Oct 5 – Oct 18, 2022 – The Pet Page

There is always Hope.

∙ Meet the newest member of the Ventura City Fire Department — Hope.

As a therapy dog, Hope has the very important job of providing comfort and support to firefighters after they’ve had a difficult run. She also visits children in the community who have experienced a tragedy, to help them start to heal.

∙ SPAN Thrift Store is open to the public and looking for donations of adult clothing, household items and tools. SPAN Thrift Store regularly provides $10 spay and neuter clinics for low income households for cats and dogs. Upcoming clinics: Tuesday, October 11th, parking lot of Shiells Park, 649 C St, Fillmore; Tuesday, October 25th, parking lot of SPAN Thrift Store, 110 N. Olive St., Ventura. Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823

∙ Beginning September 18th, all dog owners now have a Happy Hour destination just for them and their 4 legged friends at Peirano’s! They have created a menu just for your dog. They can have a dog gone good time sipping/slurping on bacon water and chomping on salon skin treats, or scrambled eggs. Live music every Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 3-5 pm and Friday evening from 6-8, Sunday Brunch from 1120-2:00pm.

∙ Alexandra Horowitz has been studying the inner lives of humanity’s best friend for about two decades, including in her current role as head of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in New York. Since 2009, Horowitz has also been a book author, translating the latest findings from the field of canine science for the general public.

In her book The Year of the Puppy Horowitz dives deep into the earliest stages of being a dog. But this book comes with an added personal angle: It details Horowitz and her family’s journey in raising their own puppy, Quiddity, from the very start of life. Among other things, Horowitz discusses why new dog moms are always licking their puppies; why puppies aren’t too fussy about the nipples they nurse on; and how everything from a mom’s diet to the placement of a fetus within the uterus can subtly affect a dog’s later development.

∙ A national study finds millions of pets that were adopted during the pandemic weren’t spayed or neutered, which is causing severe overcrowding at animal shelters and a sharp rise in euthanasia.

Josh Fiala, who oversees the spay/neuter program at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, says those important surgeries did continue throughout the COVID years at the state’s largest non-profit shelter, though veterinarians are becoming scarce.

Fiala says it’s fortunate the ARL was able to maintain its schedule during the past two years as he says spaying and neutering of pets is vital. “It helps control the pet population. Our shelters are full enough as it is. We do not need more pets in the area,” Fiala says. “If people want to find animals, there’s definitely plenty in shelters across the U.S. And it does, from a health perspective, from a behavior perspective, it’s shown to have benefits as well.”

According to a recent paper published in the journal Animal Cognition, dogs store key sensory features about their toys—notably what they look like and how they smell—and recall those features when searching for the named toy.

Prior studies suggested that dogs typically rely on vision, or a combination of sight and smell, to locate target objects. A few dogs can also identify objects based on verbal labels, which the authors call “gifted word learner” (GWL) dogs. “Just like humans, GWL dogs not only recognize the labeled objects—or categories of objects—as stimuli they have already encountered, but they also identify them among other similarly familiar named objects, based on their verbal labels,” the authors wrote. They wanted to investigate whether GWL dogs have an enhanced ability to discriminate and/or recognize objects compared to typical dogs.

To find out, they conducted two separate experiments. The first involved 14 dogs, three of which were GWL dogs (all border collies): Max, Gaia, and Nalani. All three had participated in prior studies and demonstrated they knew the names of more than 20 dog toys. Most of the dogs were tested in the lab; three were tested in their homes using the same experimental setup. The experimenter and the dog’s owner stood with the dog in one room. An adjacent room held dog toys. The rooms were connected by a corridor and separated by heavy curtains. All the windows were covered with dark nylon sheets.

The same 10 unfamiliar dog toys were used with all the dogs, and the toys were of different shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. The experimenter randomly divided the toys into two sets, and then picked one toy randomly out of each set to be the target toy.

After the training phase, each dog was tested in both light and dark conditions with the corridor and toy room lights turned off. They were asked 10 times to retrieve the target toy from among the other four toys in a set, which had been randomly scattered on the floor. The toys were reshuffled between each iteration. Everything was recorded using an infrared video camera, and the researchers recorded not just toy selection and retrieval but also searching and sniffing behavior.

The second experimental setup and location were the same as the first, but only the three GWL dogs were tested, along with an additional GWL dog named Whisky. All four knew the names of the 20 toys used in the experiment, scattered randomly on the floor. If the dog retrieved the correct toy, it was rewarded. Once again, the dogs were tested in both light and dark conditions.

All the dogs in the first experiment—regardless of whether they were GWL dogs or typical dogs—successfully picked out the target toys in both light and dark conditions, although it took them longer to locate the toys in the dark. Most relied on visual cues, even though dogs possess an excellent sense of smell. The GWL dogs in the second experiment were also able to select the named toys when commanded by their owners, with similar reliance on visual cues—what the toy looks like—augmented by their sense of smell (what the toy smells like), particularly in dark conditions.

According to the authors, this confirms that when dogs play with a toy, they record its features using multiple senses, creating a “multistory mental image.” They prefer to rely primarily on visual cues, but dogs can incorporate other sensory cues, most notably smell, when the conditions call for it.

Vol. 15, No. 26 – Sept 21 – Oct 4, 2022 – The Pet Page

∙ What appeared to be a mysterious illness that killed more than 20 dogs recently in northern Michigan was later identified as canine parvovirus. No outbreaks have been reported in Oklahoma, but the disease is still a threat.

Although parvovirus is a severe and highly contagious disease, it is highly preventable with proper and complete vaccines, said Dr. Barry Whitworth, Oklahoma State University Extension veterinarian and food animal quality and health specialist.
“Parvovirus can be a threat to all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than 4 months old are at the greatest risk,” Whitworth said. “And despite their vaccination status, puppies in that age range do have a window in which they are susceptible to the virus.”

Parvovirus is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces. The virus can also contaminate water and food bowls, collars, leashes and the hands and clothing of humans who have handled an infected animal.

Signs of parvovirus include:

Lethargy, Loss of appetite, Abdominal pain and bloating, Fever or low body temperature and Vomiting.

It’s important for pet owners to be aware of persistent vomiting and diarrhea as this can lead to rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock. Most canine deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of symptoms. Whitworth said it’s critical to get a symptomatic dog to the veterinarian immediately.

Dr. Rosslyn Biggs, OSU Extension veterinarian and director of continuing education for the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said proper and complete vaccination and good hygiene play pivotal roles in preventing the disease.

“Many pet owners enjoy taking their dogs to the local dog park or other places, such as doggy day care, obedience classes and groomers. Multiple opportunities for your dog to come into contact with other dogs should be a big motivator to ensure your pet is vaccinated,” Biggs said. “Talk with your veterinarian about the proper vaccination schedule for your pet.”

It is recommended puppies start parvovirus vaccines between 6 and 8 weeks old and receive a booster every three to four weeks until they are 16 weeks when antibodies from their mother’s milk have faded. Once the initial series of vaccines have been given, a booster vaccine should be administered one year later, then repeated every three years thereafter or as directed by your veterinarian.

∙ “Intelligence is the result of diverse cognitive traits that allow individuals to flexibly solve different types of problems,” Fugazza explained. “Giftedness refers to an extremely good capacity in the case of a specific skill.” So, maybe gifted dogs are like people who score high on the verbal part of the SATs.

If your pup doesn’t learn words easily, it doesn’t mean it’s a dumb dog. Adam Boyko, an expert in canine genomics, reassures owners that canine intelligence is more than that.

“Both dogs and wolves are playful when they are puppies, but dogs really evolved to living in the human environment and to responding to social cues,” said Boyko, a specialist in the genetics of behavior and an associate professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “It’s not surprising that the more playful ones exhibit better learning in the domain of learning human words. And it’s not surprising that Border collies, who are bred to respond to human cues, show the propensity to learn words more than other breeds. ““APRIL 29, 202202:35

“Other breeds of dogs might show intelligence in other ways,” Boyko said. “For example, wolves are very intelligent although they don’t typically pick up on human cues.”

“But they can figure out how to escape,” said Boyko. “Where dogs would look for a person to help, wolves would see how humans did a latch and lock and then the wolves would do it themselves to get out.”

One thing that can’t be determined from the study is whether the playfulness trait spurred owners to interact more with their dogs and thus teach them more words, said Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor emeritus at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, CEO and president of the Center for Canine Behavior Studies and the author of “Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry.”

The new findings might help people who want to buy or adopt a puppy. It suggests that playfulness might be a good attribute to consider.

“The playful ones might be more likely to interact with a person, assimilate words more easily and be more intelligent,” said Dodman.

∙ A Columbia couple is hoping to raise awareness about poisonous mushrooms after their beloved dog died from eating them in their yard. Mike and Cindy Casto found their dog Ruffles, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had gotten into some mushrooms. They brought her to their primary veterinary clinic and an emergency veterinary hospital but lost her a little more than 24 hours later.

When the Castos brought Ruffles to Shandon-Wood Animal Clinic, staff there said she was comatose.

Dr. Courtney Cauthen, Associate Veterinarian at Shandon-Wood, treated Ruffles.“Liver values were so high on the machine that it couldn’t read them,” she said.

Ruffles was then taken to the South Carolina Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Care hospital, where she had clotting issues.

The Castos said that she was given plasma transfusions to reverse the damage, but they were unsuccessful.

According to Cauthen, the Amanita and Galerina mushrooms are the most dangerous for pets and can cause liver failure.

Since the mushrooms can vary in color and size, she said it is best to assume all mushrooms growing in yards could be harmful to pets.

“Try to scan your yard the best that you can before you let them out, pick up as many as you can that you see and toss them away,” Cauthen said. “Generally, when I let my dogs in the backyard, I’m scanning, I’m picking them up and putting them in food bags and throwing them away.”
“They unfortunately don’t know things that are dangerous for them to eat so we have to do our best to prevent it the best we can,” she said.

“We’ve told our neighbors and they have dogs, and we just want them to go out and check your yard and see if you have any mushrooms, get rid of them or keep your pet inside,” Mike said.

There is no known cure, but Cauthen said if you see your dog eating a mushroom, you should rush them to a clinic so that they can induce vomiting and try to get it out of their system.

∙A Polish scientific institute has classified domestic cats as an “invasive alien species,” citing the damage they cause to birds and other wildlife.

Some cat lovers have reacted emotionally to this month’s decision and put the key scientist behind it on the defensive.

Wojciech Solarz, a biologist at the state-run Polish Academy of Sciences, wasn’t prepared for the disapproving public response when he entered “Felis catus,” the scientific name for the common house cat, into a national database run by the academy’s Institute of Nature Conservation.

The database already had 1,786 other species listed with no objections, Solarz told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Invasive alien species No. 1,787, however, is a creature so beloved that it often is honored in Poland’s cemeteries reserved for cats and dogs.

Solarz described the growing scientific consensus that domestic cats have a harmful impact on biodiversity given the number of birds and mammals they hunt and kill.