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Showing posts from April, 2019

Eight Ways to Help Your Cat Go to the Vet

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If you struggle to take your cat to the vet, here are eight things you can do to help make it less stressful for your cat, including the right way to put them in a carrier.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

Everyone knows that cats can find vet visits stressful. In one study, most owners said their cat was stressed at the vet and sometimes for some time after getting home (Mariti et al 2016).

After last week’s post about dogs at the vet, several people asked for tips on taking their cat to the vet.

Here are eight things you can do to help your cat with vet visits.


1. Pick the right kind of cat carrier Picking the right cat carrier is important to ensure you have one that your cat can feel safe inside. One that is too open will mean the cat feels exposed, and one without many entry points can cause struggles when it’s time for your cat to go in.

Choose a cat carrier that:
Is made of sturdy plastic that is washable and easy to cleanHas a lockable door (to keep the cat secure) with holes in (to allow you…

Companion Animal Psychology News April 2019

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Cats that fetch, equine therapy, and the joy of dogs... the latest Companion Animal Psychology news.



By Zazie Todd, PhD Some of my favourites this month
“A tongue-in-cheek NPR.org headline comparing the fetching abilities of cats and dogs revealed a truth known by countless cat owners: Some cats do fetch.” All right, some cats do fetch at NPR by Matthew S Schwartz.

“I’m well aware that it just takes one second for trouble to turn into tragedy. In addition, let’s face it, I tend to be on the neurotic cautious end of the continuum.” Nothing to fear but fear itself by Patricia McConnell.  

Some tips for how to help dogs learn to use dog doors in Help! My dog won’t use the dog door by Sylvie Martin.

“If you’re a puppy parent searching for guidance on how to socialize your puppy, you risk coming across some concerning misinformation, even from professional trainers. “ In defense of puppy socialization by Kelly Lee at the Academy for Dog Trainers.

“All he asked was that we bury you in…

Making Vet Visits Less Stressful is Essential, and Here's What We Can Do to Help Dogs

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Why we should monitor dogs for signs of stress at the vet, and the steps dog owners and veterinary professionals can take to help, according to a new review of the literature.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

Many people know their dog is afraid of going to the vet. It’s not surprising because a vet visit is very different from the dog’s usual daily experiences, and yet it’s essential for them to get good veterinary care. A new literature review by Petra Edwards (University of Adelaide) et al examines the scientific literature to find out what helps dogs at the vet, and what we still need to know.

Making vet visits less stressful has several benefits, including increasing the likelihood of people actually taking their dog to the vet, making it easier for the vet to make the right diagnosis, and reducing the risk of the vet staff or owner being bitten. In addition, stress is bad for dogs’ physical health, just as it is for people.

Petra Edwards, PhD Candidate and first author of the paper, told me in…

Reasons to Be Positive About Being Positive in Dog Training

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Why debunking out-dated ideas can backfire, the importance of spreading quality information, and the best ways to counteract the misleading duds.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

Many dog trainers who rely on using reward-based methods feel passionately about the importance of using humane methods that don’t cause dogs to experience fear or pain. Thus, they feel it strongly when people use or share articles about methods that involve shock collars, dominance, pack ‘theory’, or any form of positive punishment, because they know aversive methods have risks for dogs

What are the best ways to counteract this kind of misleading information?

This is a question that preoccupies me (and many of you, I know) because it is such an important one for animal welfare. I’ve written before about the many factors that influence people’s choice of dog training methods (Todd, 2018) and in this post I want to look at some of those factors in more detail.



The importance of social norms in dog training
A social psycho…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club April 2019

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"A firsthand exploration of the fascinating world of “working dogs”—who seek out missing persons, sniff for explosives in war zones, and locate long-dead remains..."



By Zazie Todd, PhD

The Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for this month is What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World by Cat Warren.
From the back cover, "Cat Warren is a university professor and former journalist with an admittedly odd hobby: She and her German shepherd have spent the last seven years searching for the dead. Solo is a cadaver dog. What started as a way to harness Solo’s unruly energy and enthusiasm soon became a calling that introduced Warren to the hidden and fascinating universe of working dogs, their handlers, and their trainers.  Solo has a fine nose and knows how to use it, but he’s only one of many thousands of working dogs all over the United States and beyond. In What the Dog Knows, Warren uses her ongoing work with Solo as a way to…

Which Dog Lives the Longest? Smaller Dogs Have Longer Lives

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Being mixed breed versus purebred, spay/neuter status, and regular dental cleanings at the vet, are also linked to lifespan.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

A study of over 2 million dogs attending veterinary clinics in the US answers some recurring questions about lifespan and dogs. The research, by Dr. Silvan Urfer (University of Washington) et al., analysed data from over 169,000 dogs in this cohort that died or were euthanized within a three-year period.

In all size groups (small, medium, large, and giant), mixed breed dogs live longer than purebred dogs, although the difference is not that large. The study found that, on average, a mixed-breed dog lives for 14.45 years compared to 14.14 years for a purebred dog.

For purebred dogs there was some variability in lifespan according to the breed. For example, amongst the breeds the scientists classified as giant, Great Pyrenees live longer (11.55 years) than Great Danes (9.63 years), with the mastiff, St. Bernard, and cane corso in between.

Small d…