Showing posts from December, 2012

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas! Photo: Michael Pettigrew / Shutterstock Seasons Greetings to you and all your furry and feathered friends. These were our top stories of the year: Social Referencing in Dogs Now Where's My Treat? How to Help a Fat Cat Lose Weight Behavioural Problems in Rabbits, Rodents and Ferrets Homeless Pets: A UK Survey By Zazie Todd, PhD

Is Timing an Important Feature of the Sounds Dogs Make?

The way dogs respond to other dogs' barks, played forwards or backwards, tells us about the importance of timing in canine communication. Photo: Ammit Jack / Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD I recently looked at the amazing story of how two dogs had been taught to go into an fMRI scanner – the beginnings of  canine neuroscience . Today’s blog is about a study that takes a different, less hi-tech, approach to understanding the canine brain. Siniscalchi et al were interested in how  dogs  process other dogs’ vocalizations, and whether they show lateralization of the hemispheres – in other words, whether the left half and right half of the dog’s brain have different functions. To begin with they needed to record some canine vocalizations. They took four dogs (two mixed-breed, one Border Collie, and one Rhodesian Ridgeback) and recorded the sounds they made during a disturbance, isolation, and play. To get the disturbance recording, they had the dog in a car with its owner, and

How to Help a Fat Cat Lose Weight

Simple steps to help your overweight or obese cat lose weight. Photo: Thy Le/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. If you have any concerns about your cat's weight or diet, or simply want to know if your cat is a healthy weight, speak to your veterinarian. Many cats are overweight or obese. A review by Kathryn Michel and Margie Scherk, published in the Journal of  Feline Medicine and Surgery , summarizes the problem and the steps that should be taken to help cats lose weight. Their paper begins by discussing the serious health concerns caused by overweight and obesity: an obese cat is almost four times as likely to get diabetes as a normal-weight cat, and more likely to suffer from other problems such as urinary tract disease and lameness. They point out that just ten extra pieces of kibble a day, over and above what the cat needs, will cause a 12% increase i

Can Dogs Use Human Emotional Expressions to Identify Which Box Contains Food?

Do expressions of happiness and disgust on a person's face tell dogs which box contains tasty food? Labrador Retrievers were one of the breeds to take part in the study Photo: Carolyn Brule / Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD Dogs are very aware of human emotional states. An earlier blog post looked at  how dogs respond to a crying stranger . This week’s post is about whether or not dogs can use human emotional cues to tell them which of two boxes contains a tasty treat. The research was conducted by David Buttelmann and Michael Tomasello in Germany. They compared two sets of human emotional expressions: Happy vs Neutral; and Happy vs Disgust. They tested 58 domestic dogs (Siberian Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Border Collies and German Shepherds). The Siberian Huskies were tested at the open air enclosure where they lived, and the other dogs were all tested in a room, mostly with the owner present. The experimental set-up involved two cardboard

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