Dogs Think About Their Toys Using Multiple Senses
It’s every dog owner’s dream to know exactly what’s going through their fur baby’s head. Well, a new study published in the journal animal cognition discovered that when dogs think of an object – like their favorite toys – they imagine its different sensory characteristics, such as how it looks or smells.
“If we can understand what senses dogs use when looking for a toy, it can reveal what they’re thinking about it,” says co-lead author Shany Dror, from the department of ethology at Eötvös Loránd University, in Hungary.
“When dogs use olfaction or sight when looking for a toy, it indicates that they know what that toy looks like.”
In a previous study, the team found that a few particularly gifted dogs could learn the names of objects. So they investigated how four gifted word-learning dogs looked for and recognized a target toy (among four other toys), both when the lights were on and off.
They found that while the dogs’ success rate did not differ in dark or light, their search behavior did: the dogs relied primarily on vision and switched to other senses (including their sense of smell) when searching in the dark.
This reveals that when dogs play with a toy, they pay attention to its different characteristics and register information using multiple senses.
Genetic variants linked to disease in purebred cats
The largest ever study of the DNA of domestic cats has revealed that 13 genetic mutations associated with disease in cats are present in more purebred breeds than previously thought.
The researchers genotyped more than 11,000 domestic cats (including 90 breeds and breed types and 617 non-breed cats) to detect small differences in genes associated with known diseases, blood type and physical traits in cats.
They identified 13 disease-associated variants in 47 breeds or pedigree breed types in which the variant had not previously been documented. However, they also found that the frequency of these variants decreased in breeds that were regularly tested for genetic markers.
These results highlight the need for comprehensive genetic screening for all breeds of cats and were published in the journal PLOS genetics.
An Update on the Golden Retriever Lifespan Study
The Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the largest prospective study in veterinary medicine. Researchers follow and observe a group of more than 3,000 golden retrievers in the United States long-term to study nutritional, environmental, lifestyle, and genetic risk factors for cancer and other common diseases in dogs.
Every year, owners and veterinarians complete online questionnaires about the health and lifestyle of dogs. Biological samples are also taken and each dog undergoes a physical study examination.
As the study now approaches its 10th anniversary, the researchers published a paper in the journal PLOS A to review the results so far. To date, 352 dogs have died and 70% of those deaths have been attributed to cancer.
The primary objective of the study is to document and collect data on 500 dogs diagnosed with the primary endpoint cancers: hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, osteosarcoma, and high-grade mast cell tumors. So far they have obtained 223 and found hemangiosarcoma to be the most common (n=120), followed by lymphoma/leukemia (n=85). There were also fewer diagnoses of high-grade mast cells (n=10) and osteosarcoma (n=8) than expected.
“The study data and samples are a legacy of these special dogs, which will continue to impact scientific discovery for decades to come,” says co-author Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, Director scientist at the Morris Animal Foundation in the United States.
Doggy style dates de-stress students
Primary school children in the UK were less stressed after spending just 20 minutes with a dog twice a week, compared to children who spent the same amount of time doing a relaxation session involving meditation and those who did neither. neither, according to a new study in PLOS A.
Researchers tracked cortisol levels in the saliva of 150 children aged eight to nine for four weeks – cortisol is known as the ‘stress hormone’ because it is released by the body during times of stress .
Comparing their average cortisol levels before and after the four-week intervention revealed lower stress levels in the children in the canine intervention group, while cortisol levels increased in the other two groups.
Immediately after their doggy exits, neurotypical children and children with special educational needs also showed a significant reduction in stress, while no change in cortisol levels was seen in children who meditated or had no intervention.
England could ban the breeding of English bulldogs
British vets are warning that the breeding of English bulldogs could be banned unless urgent action is taken to change breeding standards towards more moderate characteristics, according to a new study in Canine medicine and genetics.
They assessed the veterinary records of a random sample of 2,662 English Bulldogs and 22,039 other dogs using the VetCompass database, and found that English Bulldogs were twice as likely to be diagnosed with at less of a disorder than other races.
Bulldogs were also at increased risk for respiratory, eye and skin problems due to their extreme physical characteristics, including shortened muzzles, folded skin and stocky bodies.
And only 9.7% of English bulldogs in this study were over the age of eight, compared to 25.4% of other breeds.
“These results suggest that the overall health of the English Bulldog is much lower than that of other dogs,” concludes lead author Dr Dan G O’Neill, Associate Professor of Companion Animal Epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College, University from London, UK.