Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why Do Dogs Have Dewclaws?

Ever wonder what is the purpose of the thumb-like structure protruding from the side of your dog's leg? It's a dewclaw! For most dogs, dewclaws are nonfunctional, however they are an interesting bit of evolutionary history!

Over 40 million years ago, an early ancestor of the modern dog was a tree climbing cat-like animal called a Miacis. These animals had five toes to successfully scale and live in the treetops. Eventually, the Miacis evolved to live on the ground and became specialized hunters -- more like our dogs today.

As hunters of fast moving prey, speed became an important factor. This added speed required a change! Evolution rocked dog's legs forward so that their heel would no longer touch the ground. As a result, they began to walk on their toes, with the fifth toe now unable to touch the ground.

Voila, the dewclaw! Today, most dogs have dewclaws only on their front paws, and it is rare to find them on their back paws. However in several breeds, such as the Great Pyrenees and Briards, rear dewclaws are common, they may even have a double dewclaw!

It is not uncommon for dogs with injury-prone dewclaws to have them removed. Some puppies have them removed before they are weaned.  Be sure to ask your vet if you are concerned that your dog's dewclaws are at risk for injury. They will know best how to keep your furry friend's paws safe and healthy!

Source: Psychology Today

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Can Dogs Tell Time?

Does your dog have their nose pressed against the window when you arrive home from work? Does your dog sit by the door for your morning walk before you've grabbed the leash? 

To many dog owners, canines appear to have a fairly accurate concept of time. So, do they really know what time it is, or is there something else happening in their minds? Here are three different theories that give insight to your dog's concept of time:

One: Research suggests that dogs are capable of anticipating future events based on past experiences. Humans, who base time off of episodic events, can pinpoint when something happened in the past by relating it to other events.

Dogs, on the other hand, can only distinguish how much time has passed since an event has occurred - "my food bowl has been empty for several hours and my stomach is growling!" So, while they may not know that it's 6:00 pm, they may understand that it's been roughly 6 hours since their last meal which means it's time to anticipate dinner!

Two: Research evidence based on changes in a dog's behavior when left alone by their human companions for different lengths of time, may also prove their understanding time. Studies show that dogs display greater affection toward their owners if they've been separated for longer periods of time.

As the amount of time away increases, so does the dogs' excitement. This research shows that dogs are capable of recognizing and responding to different spans of time.

Three: Other research shows that it’s possible that dogs judge time in such detail by the decay of smells in their environment. A dog's sense of smell can be up to 100,000 times better than humans. Dogs may associate time with specific smells, so if you usually leave at 7:00 am and come home at 5:00 pm, your dog knows when your personal scent is 10 hours old and knows it’s time to sit by the door, waiting for some love. Want to see this theory tested out? Check out BBC's video experiment here.

While seconds, minutes, and hours are abstract concepts created by humans, it is clear that dogs are aware of the passage of time. Does your dog always know when it's time to eat or go for a walk? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Animal Planet & BarkPost

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Speaking “Cat”

As passionate pet parents, many of us can honestly admit that we talk to our pets, but have you tried conversing with your pet in their own language? 

In the 1940s, cat lover Mildred Moelk discovered that cats meow differently to people than to cats. She categorized 16 sounds used in cat-munication. These 16 sounds are formed by your cat into 3 different patterns and when expressed, can be loosely translated to meanings like "hello,” "pay attention to me,” "give me,” "please give me,” and "I like” or "I don’t like.”

The 3 patterns:
1. Greeting or satisfaction: Soft murmurs or consonants made with the mouth closed
2. Request or complaints: Vowel sounds from an open-to-closing mouth as in meowing
3. Arousal or stress: Loud sounds called strained intensity patterns, emitted from a wide open mouth

Cats meow in different ways to convey:
•    Friendliness
•    Confidence
•    Dissatisfaction
•    Anger
•    Fear
•    Pain

So, here is your guide to speaking with your furry feline. To pronounce these sounds in “Cat,” use the partial phonetics based on Moelk’s system; An apostrophe (’) means an emphasis, and a colon (:) means the sound is drawn out. Good luck!

Murmur Pattern
1. Purr (’hrn-rhn-’hrn-rhn)
2. Request or Greeting (’mhrn’hr’hrn)
3. Call (’mhrn)
4. Acknowledgment or Confirmation (’mhng)

Vowel Patterns
1. Demand (’mhrn-a’:ou)
2. Begging Demand (’mhrn-a:ou:)
3. Bewilderment (’maou?)
4. Complaint (’mhng-a:ou)
5. Mating Cry - mild form (’mhrn-a:ou)
6. Anger Wail (wa:ou:)

Strained Intensity Patterns
1. Growl and Anger Wail
2. Snarl
3. Mating Cry (intense form)
4. Pain Scream
5. Refusal Rasp
6. Spitting

While many experts agree that a cat’s vocalizations are meant to communicate specific messages, they are still not sure exactly what cats are saying!  It is also believed that a cat’s meow is meant to manipulate their human into doing whatever they think the meow might mean. So, try speaking to your cat in their own language tonight and see what happens. We are interested to find out! For now, we will ask if any of our kitty guests have any ’mhng-a:ou (complaints) so we can quickly see to them, so we hear nothing but ’hrn-rhn-’hrn-rhn (purrs) from the catteries!

Source: Cat Channel

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

DIY Pet First Aid Kit

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month, and as a pet parent, you can never be too prepared! A pet injury can be a scary event, and it is important to have the proper first aid supplies for emergencies or just the minor cuts and scrapes. The American Veterinary Medical Association provides great information for pet first-aid, basic procedures and how to handle an injured pet. Here are the necessities for a resourceful first aid kit for your dog or cat:

  • Tweezers - For removing ticks, splinters, or other foreign material.
  • Medical Scissors – For cutting bandages; to prevent cutting your pet a blunt tip pair is recommended.
  • Syringe or Eye Dropper – To give oral medication or to help flush out wounds.
  • Digital Thermometer and lubricant (Petroleum Jelly) – Ask your veterinarian to teach you how to take your dog’s temperature.
  • Latex Gloves – To protect your hands and keep your tools sterile. 
  • Guaze Roll & Pads – To wrap the wound and muzzle your pet before treating the wound. Always wrap loosely to avoid danger to you pet.
  • Cotton Balls – To help apply ointments and clean up any blood.
  • Q-Tips – To help clean wounds, administer ointments, clean ears, paws, etc.
  • First Aid Tape – For adhering gauze.
  • Sterile Saline Eye Solution – For flushing debris from eyes.  Do not use contact solution!
  • Iodine – For applying to and washing fresh cuts and wounds. Try Betadine solution.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – To induce vomiting if your pet is poisoned. Call your vet for correct dosage, and never induce vomiting unless directed!
  • Antibiotic ointment  – To apply to healing wounds.
  • Antibacterial Cleanser – To clean your hands and any tools you are using.
  • Hand Sanitizer  – Quick and on-the-go cleanser for your hands.
  • Milk of magnesia or activated charcoal - To absorb poison.
  • Alcohol Swabs – For on-the-go in case of scratches and scrapes.
  • Soft Blanket – For keeping your pet warm/cool and transporting. It also helps relieve shock.
  • Instant Cold Pack – Apply to affected area to keep swelling and pain to a minimum.
  • Muzzle – Dogs in pain may bite. A muzzle helps calm your dog and prevent further injuries.
Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet's life until they receive veterinary treatment! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Is Your Pet Right-Pawed or Left-Pawed?

Just like humans and their hands, many pets have a certain paw they prefer over the other. According to a recent study, 50% of cats are right pawed,  40% favor their left paw and 10% of them are ambidextrous, favoring neither! 

Dogs, on the other hand, tend to be more evenly split with around 50% being left-pawed and 50% being right-pawed, with a statistically insignificant number being ambidextrous.

In addition, there seems to be a connection between your pet's gender and which paw is dominant. Specifically, female cats and dogs typically will have a dominant right paw, while males tend to favor the left. However, if your pet has been spayed or neutered at an early age, this distinction may go away.

So, is your pet right-pawed, left-pawed or ambidextrous? Here are a few simple tests to find out:
  • If you teach your dog to shake, which paw do they offer you first and most often?
  • If your dog or cat is playing on their back and you put your hand just out of their reach, which paw do they reach for your hand with?
  • Fill a toy with something delicious and put it in the center of your dog’s visual field. Which paw does it use to touch the toy first? Which paw does your dog use to hold the toy?
  • Put something sticky on your dog or cat’s nose. Which paw do they use to remove it?
  • Place a treat or a piece of cheese under a sofa, just beyond your dog or cat’s reach. Which paw do they use to try and get it out?
  • If your pet wants to get inside or into a room you’re in, which paw do they typically use to scratch at the door?
  • Dangle a toy over your cat’s head. Which paw lifts to swat at it?
  • Put a treat under a bowl. Which paw does your cat or dog use to move it?
Note which paw is used and once you've done several dozen (at least) tests, a clear dominant paw should emerge. If you've done 100-200 tests and there is no noticeable paw preference, your pet is probably ambidextrous.

Source: PetMD