Month: September 2019

Dogs and bones

UCLA evolutionary biologist Blaire Van Valkenburgh has spent over 30 years studying broken teeth in carnivores of all kinds. She has come to the conclusion that broken teeth in carnivores that lived thousands of years ago to the present, are linked with food availability. Her conclusion is that as food becomes less available, carnivores will eat more of the kill, leaving less of it. This includes eating the bones. She maintains that when there is enough food a carnivore will not eat bones to protect their teeth. If a carnivore has broken teeth, they cannot kill and eat food as well.

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Why is this important to us? Her study shows that given a choice; carnivores will not chew on bones. This includes wolves, coyotes, foxes and other similar canids. So it brings up the question, is it wise to give our pet dogs bones to chew on? I have always maintained that it is not a good idea to give dogs bones to chew on. That it is not what they would do given the choice. Most dog bones are scented or stuffed to get the dog to chew it. Dogs that are aggressive chewers have broken their teeth on bones.

Some of the risks to giving a dog bones are:

Broken teeth

Mouth or tongue injury

The bone can get caught on the lower ja

The bone can get stuck in the esophagus, windpipe, stomach, and/or the

Intestines

Bones can cause constipation

Bones can cause severe bleeding from the rectum

Bones can poke holes in the stomach and intestines causing a bacterial     infection

And while I am writing this article, I will warn my readers that it is also dangerous and unnatural to feed dogs any form of rawhide from any type of animal, as well as antlers. These things can kill your dog or cause intestinal blockage requiring surgery. There is also the risk of toxins and decay that is associated with the processing of rawhide. The main source of rawhide is from slaughterhouses where cows and horses are butchered. Much of it is processed in China where they do not have the regulations that exist in other countries. So the best thing is to be careful about what you let your dog chew.

Cats do bond to humans

A recent study by Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University showed that cats’ bond to their human caretakers the same as dogs and human infants (attachment security). In this study cats were put in a novel room with their caretakers for two minutes, then they were left there for two minutes alone. After that the caretaker returned and the cat’s reaction was observed.

puff suitcase

The findings show that a cat’s attachments to humans are stable, and present in adulthood. As a result of this finding, the researchers are currently looking into how this impacts the many cats and kittens that are in shelters. They want to see how socialization and fostering influence a cat’s ability to have attachment security.

I am personally glad to see that researchers are finally exploring this aspect of a cat’s personality. Those of us who own cats know how attached they can be to us. For years people have misunderstood cats, labeling them as aloof because they show their affection differently than dogs.

Life-threatening heart arrhythmia’s in dogs

Although it is rare, some dogs, often Labrador Retrievers, suffer from life-threatening, arrhythmia caused by atrioventricular accessory pathways (APs).

APs are abnormal electrical circuits in the heart that can become activated and overcome the heart’s normal current pathways, severely impairing the heart’s ability to pump.

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Accessory atrioventricular pathways are atypical muscle bundles that connect the atrium to a ventricle outside of the regular atrioventricular system. The traditional treatment is life-long medications and frequent trips to the veterinarian. However, Dr. Kathy N. Wright and her colleagues at MedVet, a family of emergency and specialty veterinary hospitals around the United States have used a technique that is successful in humans, to treat dogs.

What she has demonstrated is that radiofrequency catheter ablation is a safe and highly effective alternative to successfully treat dogs. RFCA uses radiofrequencies to destroy those rogue circuits and allow the heart’s normal function to resume. In her study, dogs were cured with one or two treatments.

Again, this is a case of human medicine benefitting dogs. It is encouraging to think that veterinarians and human doctors will continue to work together to make all of us healthier.

HGE in dogs a good link

My good veterinarian friend Lucy, posted a nice article on HGE on FB that I want to share here.

http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=2946&S=4&SourceID=42&EVetID=300145

There has been a lot of interest in this topic on this blog site.

Metacognition in Dogs

Metacognition is knowing when you don’t know. For example, if someone asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, you will know that you do not know the answer. Another way to put it is knowing what you know.

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Researchers at the DogStudies lab at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History have determined that dogs have metacognition abilities. Their tests showed that dogs checked more often when they did not know where a reward was hidden. This illustrated to the researchers that dogs do tend to actively seek extra information when they have not seen where a reward is hidden which is an indication that the dogs knew that they did not know where the reward was.

A famous example of this is Chaser the Border Collie when she was asked to find a toy that she was not taught to find. Although it took her longer, she examined each toy in a group and finally, by process of elimination, picked the correct toy. She knew that she did not know the toy she was asked to find.

Scientists must research carefully, eliminating all possible flaws in their research. They must also design tests to prove or disprove their hypothesis which is not an easy task. But those of us who work with dogs and see what they can accomplish, do not need tests to prove their abilities. Dog and animals in general, have many more mental abilities then scientists can prove at the present. However, it is good that they do continue their research.