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July 2014

poodle dressed to impress
Jealous dog

Dogs Really do get Jealous!

Dogs are known to be the most loyal of pets, so it is no surprise that dogs can become jealous too.

A study by the University of California has found that dogs, can experience envy.

When watching their owner pat a potential rival, they snap, jump, paw and push.

Most dog owners will not find the result surprising, some scientists argue that the complexity of jealousy makes it a uniquely human emotion.

To find the answer, the University of California researchers videoed 36 dogs in their own homes while their owners ignored them over a stuffed dog, another toy or even a book.

A toy dog was used and at the push of a button it barked, whined and wagged its tail, and the real dogs seemed to be fooled.

They were twice as likely to push or touch their owner when they were petting and talking sweetly to the toy dog as opposed to when the owner showed the same behaviour towards the other toy.

When the book was being read aloud even fewer dogs pushed or touched their owners.

Less than a third of the dogs tried to get between their owner and the stuffed animal and a quarter snapped at the ‘other dog’.

This proves that the dogs weren’t simply reacting to the loss of attention and affection.

Researcher Professor Christine Harris said: “Our study suggests not only that dogs do engage in what appear to be jealous behaviours but also that they were seeking to break up that connection between the owner and a seeming rival”.

“We can’t really speak to the dogs, but it looks as though they are motivated to protect an important social relationship.”

The professor said her findings show that jealousy is not uniquely human. Nor is it simply tied to sex and romance.


Karen Stanfield and Ruby the Black Lab

Black Lab allergic to things all dogs love

Ruby the black Labrador, from Edinburgh, has allergies to meat, milk, dust mites and some types of grass.
She is reduced to eating homemade vegetarian meals instead of normal dog food, and even takes the drug Piriton to control sneezing and spluttering.

She also must jump in lakes, rivers and puddles to wash off stray blades of grass every time she goes outdoors.

The 3 year old dog’s owner Karen Stanfield, who keeps her house spotlessly clean for her pet’s sake, said: ‘People are always wondering what I feed my dog and when I explain they say: “How can a dog be allergic to all the things that dogs love?”.

‘Dogs like some people, can be lactose intolerant, some have to have gluten free food. My dog is allergic to dog food.’

It was when Ruby’s vet carried out an Avacta sensitest, a special blood test for allergies specifically designed for pets, that Karen found allergies were the cause of her problems.

Following this diagnosis, Ruby was placed on a strict vegetarian diet, excluding dog food and bones.

Now, Karen cooks food from scratch every day to make sure no allergens contaminate the meals, as well as vacuuming her house from top to bottom.

Karen now has Ruby’s allergies under control, saying: ‘At first I thought she had an infection, she was always itchy, she had no energy and she struggled to go out for walks.

“She didn’t want to play and had a stomach upset solidly for three months. She only weighed 55lbs but she lost 15lbs.”

“You could see all of her ribs, it was like I wasn’t feeding her even though I was trying. She looked like a neglected dog, as if she was starving, and I couldn’t find the cause.”
‘Even though I’m a positive reinforcement dog trainer I couldn’t figure out why Ruby was so lethargic and unhappy. She was miserable and so was I.

‘It wasn’t until Ruby’s vet did the sensitest that we realised it was allergies causing all her problems.’

She said: ‘Ruby ate vegetarian food for a year and I’ve just started reintroducing turkey and pork back into her diet as she’s not allergic to those.’


animal sight speed chart

Dogs see us move in SLOW MOTION

 Scientists have now demonstrated how their form affects their perception of moving objects.

By studying many different  varieties of animals, researchers have discovered that a creature’s body mass and metabolic rate dictates how it perceives the speed of a moving object – or person.

They found that a dog and housefly see movements more slowly than a human, while a rat and a cat see movement more quickly.

The scientists, from the School of Natural Sciences in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland along with the Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews, said that speed perception depends on how fast an animal’s nervous system processes information in order to react to its environment.

To investigate, they showed 34 types of vertebrates, including fish, birds, lizards and mammals, a flashing light.

If the light flashes fast enough, both humans and animals see it as a constant beam, Scientific American said.

By measuring an animal’s brain activity, they examined the highest frequency that it saw the light as flashing.

To animals that can see the light flashing at higher speeds, it is as if movements and situations unfold more slowly, according to the study, published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

The team thinks that this is advantageous to animals that need to avoid obstacles or predators quickly.

For example, chipmunks and pigeons can see a light flash 100 times a second, while cats see it flash 55 times a second.

Animals that could see the light flashing at high speeds were found to have faster metabolisms, confirming the scientists’ hypothesis that the species that can see objects move at a higher frequency of flashes tend to be smaller.

A dog can take in visual information,  and see a light flashing, 25 per cent faster than a human, and while  this makes it seem that time moves more slowly for canines, it is not  enough to mean that one dog year equates to seven human years, they said.

The study shows that a mouse sees the world and experiences time in a very different way to an elephant, for example.

The connection between the perception of time and a creature’s body size and metabolism suggests that different nervous systems have evolved based upon a species’ environment and how they survive.






July 2014

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