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The Surprising History of Veterinary Medicine for Dogs and Cats

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And the ‘dangerous’ woman who played a vital role. Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. We are used to the idea that veterinarians treat dogs , cats , rabbits and other small animals, but it wasn’t always so. Before the automobile, the main role for vets was in the treatment of horses. As the number of horses declined, two British government reports (in 1938 and 1944) suggested vets should specialize in the treatment of farm animals.  The change to small animals is often explained as due to increasing standards of living and people’s desire for companion animals after the Second World War. A new report by Andrew Gardiner of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (University of Edinburgh) shows the real reason is the rise of animal charities, and the role of one woman in particular: Maria Dickin. It’s a tale of politics and intrigue. Gar

What Encourages People to Walk Their Dog?

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And is dog-walking a good way to persuade people to take more exercise? Photo: Monkey Business Images / 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. We know that most people do not get the 150 minutes of exercise per week that is recommended. Could encouraging people to walk their dogs more often help, and if so, how best to go about it? A new paper by Carri Westgarth et al (2014) of the University of Liverpool reviews the state of current research. Although to some dog owners a daily walk is an essential part of the routine, there are also people who never walk their dog. For example, a 2008 study in Australia (Cutt et al 2008) found that on average people walk their dog four times a week for a total of 134 minutes, and that 23% of dog owners never walk their dog.  Encouraging more people to take their dog for a regular walk would be good for both the dog and owner.

What Influences Whether Owners Pick Up After Their Dog?

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What’s the scoop on picking up poop? New research by Christopher Lowe et al (2014) investigates. Photo: Jakkrit Orrasri / 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. The study consisted of an environmental survey of several popular dog walking locations, and an online survey that was completed by 933 participants from across the UK (83% were women). Eight footpaths in Lancashire, in the north of England, were visited in March/April 2010 to check for dog waste. This included a mix of urban and rural locations, and covered the path as well as about 3m either side. A tow path along the canal had 40 dog poos in the space of 25m; at a nature reserve, a path by a railway embankment had a wall along it with a pile of bagged dog faeces on the other side. On a footpath at a reservoir, the researchers found 269 bags of dog waste in 1000m. The presence or absen

Does Your Cat Sniff New Food?

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New research investigates which feline behaviours show that cats find food tasty. Photo: FreeBirdPhotos / 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. There are certain things we can take for granted when feeding the cat: the pitiful miaows that become increasingly strident, the anticipatory purring when you move towards the cat food, and the way the cat wraps herself around your leg as if you’re her best friend ever. But when you put the food down, is there any guarantee she will eat it?  Cat food manufacturers have teams of cats that work as food testers, to make sure new foods are as tasty as can be. This study, by AurĂ©lie Becques et al (in press) took place at the Panelis Diana Pet Food Division. Here, cats are housed in groups in an indoor environment with access to the outdoors. Two such groups of cats (17 cats in total) took part in this study. The cats are g

Are Deaf Dogs and Blind Dogs just like other Dogs?

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Do dogs that are deaf and/or blind have specific behavioural traits? New research sets out to investigate – and finds they are very similar to dogs with normal hearing and vision. Photo: Amy Rene By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. No one knows exactly how many dogs have hearing or vision problems. Congenital deafness and/or blindness occur in several breeds. In some cases this is related to coat colours – for example the double merle gene in Australian Shepherds is linked to deafness and blindness – and at other times not, as with inherited cataracts in many breeds. Very little is known about how dogs with inherited or acquired vision or hearing disorders behave, which was the motivation for this study by Valeri Farmer-Dougan et al (in press) of Ilinois State University. The results showed many similarities between dogs with a hearing or vision impairment

Adopting Shelter Dogs: Should Fido Lie Down or Play?

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If you go down to the shelter today, will you bring home a dog? New research finds that interactions between dogs and potential adopters predict the likelihood of adoption. Photo: Alexey Shinkevich / 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. Every year in the USA, 3-4 million healthy, potentially-adoptable, homeless animals are euthanized ( AHA and PetSmart 2012) . Many would be saved if there was a better understanding of how to increase adoptions from animal shelters. Previous studies have looked at whether it is possible to train dogs to behave in ways that will increase the likelihood of adoption, but so far there is a lack of consensus. The new study by Protopopova and Wynne study is a welcome addition to the literature since it focusses on interactions between dogs and potential adopters. The study took place at the Alachua County Animal Services in Florida. A resea

Summer Break / Summer Reading

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Photo: otsphoto / Shutterstick By Zazie Todd, PhD This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Companion Animal Psychology Blog is taking a summer break. Meanwhile, on twitter and facebook we continue to share links to the best writing about companion animals and their people. Why not join us? If you’re looking for some summer reading (and listening and viewing), these are some of our favourites: We’re delighted that some CAPB stories now appear in Pacific Standard, including Dog Training, Animal Welfare and the Human-Canine Relationship     Can Playing with your Cat Prevent Behavior Problems? Mikel Delgado investigates. Wild behaviour: The science of cats in boxes is explored in this Human Animal Science podcast with Sandra McCune. We can’t resist this video from Japan of a cat falling asleep on a watermelon .    What the pug is going on? by Mia Cobb at Do You Believe in Dog .

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