Harley Jan 2009—9 Feb 2024 Harley. Photos: Zazie Todd By Zazie Todd PhD On Friday we had to say goodbye to our beloved brown tabby cat, Harley. He was 15 and had lived with us since he was about 2.5 years old. Harley was a very affectionate cat who would start purring as soon as I walked into the room (something that ended up in a story in The Atlantic after a journalist asked me what made my cats purr ). He was also an expert at opening doors, which sometimes led to a few adventures or at least to extra treats.   Although he was an indoor cat, there would be moments when we could not find Harley anywhere. Then, after we hunted through the house, he would suddenly be sitting in the middle of the hall. It was as if he had teleported there from somewhere else. Harley had a number of medical conditions that were well managed with twice-daily insulin injections and pills. He was diagnosed with heart failure at the emergency vet about 16 months ago, but he had been doing well since and his

How Pets Benefit Our Brains with RNZ's Sunday Morning

I spoke with Jim Mora about how pets can benefit people and other new research on dogs and cats. Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd PhD I joined Jim Mora on Radio New Zealand's Sunday Morning to talk about some recent news articles that cover research that finds that pets can have benefits for people. Or in one case that we discuss near the end of the interview, potentially have a detrimental effect (but you'll be glad to know more research is needed). Amongst other things, we talk about the way that dogs can encourage adults to get their daily exercise and can encourage girls to do more physical activity. And another study looks at the cognitive benefits of having a pet for seniors who live alone. We also talk about the lifespan of various breeds of dog and the factors that affect it. You can listen to the recording here: How pets benefit our brains . This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cos

Having a Reactive Dog is Difficult and Costly, Study Shows

When dogs lunge, bark, and growl at other dogs or people, the dog is having a hard time—and so is their guardian. More awareness is needed. Many people with reactive dogs walk where they won't see anyone else. Photo: Danilo Silveira/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd PhD If you’ve never had a reactive dog, you don’t know what it feels like when someone says “She’s friendly” or "It's okay, he's fine," meaning they are going to let their off-leash dog run right up to you and your dog. You tense up, breathe more quickly, and run through different options of what to do in your mind as you wait for the dreaded moment to unfold. And then your dog goes off, barking and lunging on leash, and you feel stressed, anxious—and fed up because weeks of training is being undone in that instant. The term reactive is often used to describe dogs who bark, lunge, or growl in response to triggers such as strangers, unknown dogs, and loud noises. New research from the Waltham Pet Care Institut

Body Size and Face Shape Predict the Lifespan of Dogs, Study Shows

The study of over 150 breeds and crossbreeds shows that size matters, as little dogs live longer—and so do those with a medium head shape rather than a flat face. The Lancashire Heeler is the longest-lived breed. Photo: hansbenn/Pixabay By Zazie Todd PhD We all wish our pet dogs would live longer. New research out of the UK finds that the average dog lives 12.5 years. Contrary to previous research, dogs in this dataset lived slightly longer if they are a pedigree dog, and less long if they are a mixed breed. The study, published in Scientific Reports , looked at data from over half a million dogs, including over a quarter of a million who were deceased, to investigate the factors that are related to longevity.  The breeds with the shortest average lifespans are large breeds: the Caucasian Shepherd Dog, Presa Canario, Cane Corso, Mastiff, and St. Bernard. However the top 10 for the shortest lifespan also included some smaller dogs with flat faces: the Bulldog and French Bulldog. When d

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club February 2024

"Thought-provoking. . . . A fresh and rigorous inquiry into how humans can best serve their canine companions. Dog lovers will want to take note." ― Publishers Weekly By Zazie Todd PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. This month, the Animal Book Club is reading Who's a Good Dog? And How to Be a Better Human by Jessica Pierce.  From the publisher: " Who’s a Good Dog? is an invitation to nurture more thoughtful and balanced relationships with our canine companions. By deepening our curiosity about what our dogs are experiencing, and by working together with them in a spirit of collaboration, we can become more effective and compassionate caregivers. With sympathy for the challenges met by both dogs and their humans, bioethicist Jessica Pierce explores common practices of caring for dogs, including how we provide exercise, what we feed, how and why we socialize and train, and how we employ

The Animal Books of 2023

Some amazing books about animals were published in 2023. By Zazie Todd PhD I made a list of books about animals that came out in 2023. The list includes new releases as well as those that made it into paperback last year (like my own book, Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy). Then I turned it into an image, above. It made me really happy to see all of these amazing books in one image. Which of these books about animals have you read? What did you think of them? And are there any books missing from the list? Drop me an email and let me know! The books are (left-to-right, by row): Being Your Cat: What's Really Going On in Your Feline's Mind by Celia Haddon and Daniel Mills. The Book Your Cat Wishes You Would Read by Lucy Hoil. Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy by Zazie Todd (me!). The Cat's Meow: How Cats Evolved From the Savanna to Your Sofa by Jonathan B. Losos The Hidden Language of Cats: How They Have Us at Meow by Sarah Brown A First Guide to Cats: Under

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