People Are Putting Their Dogs on Vegan Diets. Here’s What It Actually Does to Them


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Technically, dogs don’t need meat to survive…

Over the last 10 years, it’s estimated there has been a 360 percent rise in veganism in Britain – around 542,000 people have ‘gone vegan’.

As a nation of animal lovers, with around 44 percent of homes owning a pet – and somewhere in the region of 8.5 million dogs in the UK – it’s only natural this phenomenon should start to spill over into the pet food world.

This has led to a rise in the availability of both vegetarian and vegan dog foods.

But before you make the decision for your pet to go meat free, it’s important to consider what impacts this could have.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need to eat meat to survive but dogs can in theory live on a plant-based diet – though that doesn’t necessarily mean they should.

Dogs as wolves

The domestic dog is actually a subspecies of the grey wolf. And while they’re substantially different in many ways, wolves and dogs can still interbreed to produce viable and fertile offspring.

This makes them good animals to study to get a sense of what works out in the wild.

Despite being highly successful hunters, the diet of grey wolves varies significantly both with environment and the time of year.

Studies of wolves in Yellowstone Park, US, have found that during the summer their diets contain small rodents, birds and invertebrates as well as larger prey like elk and mule deer.

Alongside this though, plant matter is actually very common in the diet, with 74 percent of wolf droppings containing it – mainly from grasses.

A recent review of the studies published about wolves has shown them eating both grasses and fruits. The difficulty with these studies though, is that they often do not assess how much of the diet is made up of plant matter.

So the level at which wolves – and by extension domestic dogs – are omnivores is still not fully known.

But of course, dogs aren’t exactly the same as wolves. It is estimated that the dog was domesticated around 14,000 years ago – although recent genetic evidence suggests it could have been anywhere up to 100,000 years ago.

This length of time has allowed for many changes to take place.

Over many generations, dogs have become increasingly associated with human civilisation and in turn exposed to human foodstuffs.

In 2013, researchers in Sweden identified that the dog genome contained increased amounts of the code for dogs to produce an enzyme called amylase which is key in the digestion of starch.

This change means that dogs are five times better at digesting starch – found in grains, beans and potatoes – than wolves. And the adaption probably allowed the domestic dog to flourish on those human grains and cereals.

The researchers also found that domestic dogs had a version of another enzyme important in starch digestion (maltose) that was more similar to the type found in herbivores, such as cows, and omnivores, such as rats, than to wolves.

The adaptations of dogs to a more plant-based diet through domestication haven’t just been at the enzyme level. All animals rely to some degree on the bacteria within their gut to help them digest food properly.

Only recently, it was shown that the gut microbiome of dogs is quite different to that of wolves, with more evidence of bacteria that can break down carbohydrates and to some degree produce amino acids normally sourced from meat.

Long in the tooth

The very way in which we present food to our pet dogs is also quite different to the way wolves eat. And as a result of domestication, the change in diet, food quantity and quality is likely to have led to the smaller body size and reduction in teeth size.

Recent research has shown that in North America, domesticated dogs in comparison to wolves have more tooth loss and fractures despite being fed softer food types – probably due to the lack of bones – and the inability to be able to scavenge.

Skull size and shape has profound effects on chewing capabilities and characteristics in dogs.

My previous work has suggested a link between the skull shape of dogs and their dental health. And the increasing trend for dog breeds with particularly shortened muzzles suggests that we are further moving them away from a diet of gnawing on tough bones.

Vegan diets

There are very few studies published about the use of vegan diets in dogs. As omnivores, dogs should be able to adapt well and manage on well prepared commercially available vegetarian diets as long as the essential nutrients they would normally get from meat are present.

One study has even shown the ability to maintain active sled dogs on a carefully produced meat-free diet. But be aware that not all pet foods are made equal.

A US study found 25 percent on the market did not contain all the nutrients required.

Home-made vegetarian diets for dogs are even more risky and a study of 86 dogs in Europe found over half deficient in protein, essential amino acids, calcium, zinc and vitamins D and B12.

Vegan foods may be even more problematic for dogs.

There’s also the fact that bones, raw hide and meat-based chews can offer significant behavioural benefits to dogs. Chewing can be an immensely satisfying and relaxing experience for dogs.

And in a world where many pets experience long periods of time alone, such opportunities can be invaluable.

Dog saves owner by sniffing out her cancer BEFORE she even knew she had it


Image: Dog saves owner by sniffing out her cancer BEFORE she even knew she had it

Dogs have a long history of being man’s best friend. But the story of a Newburyport Police Department officer and her blind dog from Massachusetts, doesn’t merely prove the bond between owner and pet but also proves that dogs are great at detecting illnesses.

Police officer Megan Tierney was reportedly at home with Dude, her blind border collie/Australian shepherd mix, when he started acting a little strange. According to her, she was lying in bed when Dude suddenly became focused on her chest area, placing a paw on her.

Tierney turned her attention on the spot Dude was touching and noticed a tissue swell. But to her surprise, a trip to the doctor confirmed that she has stage two triple negative invasive ductal breast cancer. And although finding out you have cancer is never an easy thing to swallow, the police officer said, “Dude found the lump, and we were never so happy because it just meant that we could get it where it was, rather than not knowing.”

It is known that dogs have a more heightened sense of smell compared to humans. Dude, being a blind dog, has greatly enhanced this particular sense which helped him detect the illness of his owner. Moreover, canines’ olfactory bulbs have 220 million scent receptors; 195 million more than that of humans.

According to dog-cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz from Barnard College, dogs can smell odors in parts per trillion. For example, in a million gallons of water, dogs can detect if a teaspoon sugar was mixed into the water. This means their smelling abilities are 100,000 times better than ours. (Related: Dogs can smell lung cancer in humans.)

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One study, conducted by the Pine Street Foundation, reflects Dude’s exceptional skill. The study involved five dogs that were given breath samples of 31 breast cancer patients, 55 lung cancer patients and 83 healthy persons. All dogs were able to pinpoint which samples came from those who were ill, with approximately 90 percent accuracy.

Can dogs really smell cancer?

According to Tammana Khare of Dogs Naturally Magazine, because of the metabolic waste released by cancerous cells, a distinct smell is also released from the human body. This significant smell can be easily traced by dogs even during the earlier stages of cancer.

Other studies suggest that canines also have the ability to smell traces of skin cancer melanoma through skin lesions, and detect prostate cancer with just a urine sample from a person who is suffering from one.

“Not only does their sense of smell make cancer detection possible, but research suggests that dogs can be trained actively to sniff out the cancer, ” the canine expert shared. “In Berlin, a group of researchers trained some dogs to detect the presence of various types of cancer, including ovarian cancer, bowel cancer, as well as bladder cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer,” Khane finished.

Although some remain to be with the whole idea of dogs being able to sniff out cancer and other illnesses, there are already some field experts who see a future where dogs will be directly used in patient care. More importantly, the special dog ability Dude exhibited helped his owner, Tierney, to manage her sickness and prolong her life.

Check out more amazing stories about man’s best friend on NaturalNewsPets.com.

Sources include:

Lifezette.com

PBS.org

 

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Tips to Calm Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety


Does your dog get nervous when he sees you getting ready to leave the house? Does he go bonkers with joy when you come home? Did he destroy your shoes, claw the door, or chew the corner off an end table while you were gone?

Your dog could have separation anxiety.

What Is It?

Separation anxiety happens when a dog that’s hyper-attached to his owner gets super-stressed when left alone. It’s more than a little whining when you leave or a bit of mischief while you’re out. It’s a serious condition and one of the main reasons owners get frustrated with their dogs and give them up. But there are plenty of things you can do to help.

First, understand what causes your dog to act this way:

  • Being left alone for the first time or when he’s used to being with people
  • Change of ownership
  • Moving  from a shelter to a home
  • Change in family routine or schedule
  • Loss of a family member

Signs of Separation Anxiety

A dog who has it shows a lot of stress when he’s alone. He might:

  • Howl, bark, or whine to excess
  • Have indoor “accidents” even though he’s housebroken
  • Chew things up, dig holes, scratch at windows and doors
  • Drool, pant, or salivate way more than usual
  • Pace, often in an obsessive pattern
  • Try to escape

He likely won’t do any of these things to an extreme while you’re around. A normal dog might do some of these things once in a while, but one with separation anxiety will do them almost all the time.

How to Treat It

First, talk to your vet to rule out any medical problems. Sometimes dogs have accidents in the house because of infections or hormone problems or other health conditions. It also could be due to incomplete housebreaking. And some medications can cause accidents. If your dog takes any drugs, ask your vet if they are to blame.

If the Problem Is Mild …

  • Give your dog a special treat each time you leave (like a puzzle toy stuffed with peanut butter). Only give him this treat when you’re gone, and take it away when you get home.
  • Make your comings and goings low-key without a lot of greeting. Ignore your pup for the first few minutes after you get home.
  • Leave some recently worn clothes out that smell like you.
  • Consider giving your pet over-the-counter natural calming supplements.

If the Problem Is More Serious …

A dog with severe anxiety won’t be distracted by even the tastiest treats. You’ll need to slowly get him used to your absence.

He may start to get nervous when he sees signs you’re about to leave, like putting on your shoes or picking up your keys. So do those things, but then don’t leave. Put on your shoes and then sit down at the table. Pick up your keys and watch TV. Do this over and over many times a day.

When your dog starts to feel less anxious about that, you can slowly start to disappear. First just go on the other side of the door. Ask your dog to stay, then close an inside door between you. Reappear after a few seconds. Slowly increase the amount of time you’re gone. Put on your shoes and pick up your keys. Ask your dog to stay while you go into another room.

As he gets more used to the “stay game,” increase the amount of time you’re gone. Then use an outside door, but not the same one you go out every day. Make sure your dog is relaxed before you leave.

Only you can tell if your dog is ready to be left alone for longer periods. Don’t rush things. Give him a stuffed treat when you’ve built up to 10 seconds or so apart. Always act calm when you leave and when you return.

Gradually build up the time until you can leave the house for a few minutes. Then stay away for longer and longer periods.

For All Dogs

Make sure your pet gets lots of exercise every day. A tired, happy dog will be less stressed when you leave. It’s also key that you challenge your pet’s mind. Play training games and fetch. Use interactive puzzles. Work his mind as well as his body. That will keep him busy, happy, and too tired to be anxious while you’re gone.

 

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12 Dogs That Were Born to Run


athletic dog breed

Story at-a-glance

  • Researchers have learned that dog breeds that have remained closest to their wolves have maintained more of their natural athleticism than other breeds
  • Their study included northern breeds (sled dogs), hounds and retrievers
  • The sled dogs turned out to be better distance and duration runners than either the hounds or the dogs in the retriever group
  • The researchers concluded that human breeding practices have caused a decline in the natural athleticism of certain dogs

Recently, a pair of researchers from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz conducted a study of energy use in dogs.1 Interestingly, the duo started their endeavor with the simple goal of calibrating a special collar they developed to study how wolves use energy.

They decided to test the collar on a few dogs first before moving on to wolves. But they were so taken aback by the difference in the energy use of the dogs wearing the collars that their research evolved from wolves to dogs.

Ultimately, the researchers learned that dog breeds that have remained closest to their wild ancestors (wolves) have also maintained more of their natural athleticism than dogs that have undergone selective breeding by humans.

Study Looked at Exercise Endurance in Different Types of Dogs

The study involved 23 healthy, privately owned male and female adult dogs from 2 to 11 years old. The dogs were from three breed categories and included 9 northern breeds (Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds), 7 Plott Hounds and 7 retrievers (Goldens and Labs).

The dogs were filmed with high-speed cameras as they walked and ran outdoors, and the researchers used the videos to gauge each dog’s speed, the frequency of his strides and the length of his legs. They also calculated the speed at which each dog normally walked, trotted and galloped.

The next phase of the experiment required the dogs to walk and run on an indoor treadmill. “I was amazed at the diversity of dog temperaments I encountered,” Caleb Bryce, Ph.D., study co-author, told Discover magazine. “Some took to the treadmill instantly, and others took months of dedicated training.”2

The treadmill was mounted inside a Plexiglas metabolic chamber that measured how much oxygen the dogs used, and was set according to each dog’s preferred speeds.

Dog Breeds Closest to Wolves Are Better Athletes

Once all the dogs were moving comfortably on the treadmill, the researchers noticed that some dogs were much more athletic than others. The northern breeds had significantly better aerobic endurance than the other dogs.

“They’re better long distance/duration runners,” Bryce told Discover, which isn’t really surprising since these breeds evolved to pull sleds. The snow dogs prefer to move at a trot, which also makes sense when you remember that their job was once to pull sleds for hundreds of miles over rugged terrain in punishing weather.

Interestingly, according to Bryce, these dogs remain top athletes even as family dogs who never pull anything. Of the three groups, the sled dogs remain closest to their wolf ancestors.

“Hounds and retrievers are both relatively modern breeds compared with the ancient lineage that includes northern breed dogs,” say study authors.3 And it appears breeding may have removed some of the natural athleticism of these dogs, and potentially other breeds as well.

Looking for a Canine Athlete as a Workout Partner?

Northern breeds are certainly not the only dogs who can make great workout companions. For example, these 12 dogs were born to run:

  1. Jack Russell Terrier. Small in body but with oodles of energy to burn, the Jack Russell can run for surprisingly long intervals. And he’s fast, reaching speeds up to 25 miles per hour (mph) in short bursts.
  2. Brittany Spaniel. The blazing fast Brittany is often called “the breeze.” She’s a medium-size sporting dog with high energy and a light build perfect for running.
  3. Dalmatian. Dalmatians were actually bred to run alongside carriages and horseback riders, so a love of running side-by-side with their humans is in their genes.
  4. Greyhound. With their long legs and sleek bodies, Greyhounds are built for speed and have been clocked at 45 mph. In between energetic bursts of speed-running, Greyhounds can be found napping on the couch.
  5. Whippet. The Whippet is thought to be a blend of Greyhound, Italian Greyhound and terrier. With that lineage, it’s no wonder they’re sometimes called “the poor man’s racehorse.” Believe it or not, a Whippet can run 200 yards in under 12 seconds!
  6. German Shorthaired Pointer. This breed is athletic, with tremendous endurance, and those muscular hindquarters are custom-built for running. Since he requires exercise every day, he’s the perfect companion for a long run or bike ride.
  7. Standard Poodle. Don’t let the hairdo fool you – the Standard Poodle is loaded with energy and was originally bred as a gun dog and water retriever, making her an excellent partner for long runs.
  8. Australian Cattle Dog. This dog was bred to herd livestock on ranches in Australia, so a love of running is in her blood. She can go for miles, and she doesn’t like to skip a day, so she’s an excellent choice if you need occasional prodding to lace up your running shoes.
  9. Airedale Terrier. Airedales do well in hotter climates thanks to their short, wiry coats. This isn’t a large or heavily muscled dog, so shorter runs (10K or less) are well suited to his energy level and stamina.
  10. Border Collie. Better known for their incredible intelligence and skill at flyball and agility events, Border Collies are also great runners and have been clocked at speeds up to 30 mph.
  11. Weimaraner. The agile “grey ghost” is adaptable to all types of running. She excels at short, quick bursts of speed and can cover long distances just as easily. Her short coat makes running in warm weather a breeze, and she’s also confident on rough terrain and trails.
  12. Siberian Husky. If you live in a cold climate, a Husky is the perfect running companion. This dog was bred to pull sleds, so endurance running is in his blood.

Before you start exercising with your dog, have your veterinarian check him out to ensure he’s in good enough condition to work out with you. Always keep an eye on him for signs of extreme fatigue, limping, excessive panting, heaving sides and other signs he’s overdoing it.

Don’t push your luck by exercising in extreme heat, cold or high humidity; when the air quality is poor; or where road conditions are hazardous.

Source:mercola.com

New Law Requires all Dogs in the UK to be Microchipped


IN BRIEF

As of April 6, 2016, UK law requires all dogs that are eight weeks old or older to have microchip implants. Microchips will address “reckless” ownership, as well as save taxpayers’ cash that would otherwise be used to look after strays.

POOCH PATROL

As of April 6, 2016, UK law requires all dogs eight weeks or older to have microchip implants.

If a pooch is caught without the microchip implant, the owner will be given 21 days to comply with the new regulations. In cases where the dog owner is negligent, he or she will be made to pay a fine. In such cases, the authorities could also take the dog away from the owner, have it implanted with the microchip, and then compel the owner to pay for the procedure anyway.

In a BBC report, Simon Blackburn of the Local Government Association, said thatmicrochips will address “reckless” ownership, as well as save taxpayers’ cash that would otherwise be used to look after strays. Moreover, the microchips will make it easier and quicker to return dogs to their owners in case they are stolen or lost.

CHIP TRICKS

The microchip that the UK government wants implanted into dogs is about the size of a single grain of rice. Dogs Trust — the country’s largest dog welfare charity — explained, “with the use of a specially designed implanting device, the microchip is injected through a sterile needle under the dog’s skin, right between the shoulder blades.” The procedure causes a mild discomfort similar to what is felt during a standard vaccination.

The chip is assigned a unique number that can be read by a scanner. The number corresponds to the dog owner’s contact details. All this information is logged on a central database. If the dog ever goes missing, all the authorities have to do is use the scanner to find out who the dog’s owner is and how to get in touch with him or her.

Currently, it’s estimated that more than 1.45 million dogs still need to be implanted with microchips. In any case, when dogs are out in public, they’re still required to wear a collar with a tag that states the name and address of the owner. The microchip, though, serves as the fail-safe feature.

Dogs CAN see in colour: Scientists dispel the myth that canines can only see in black and white.


 

  • Russian scientists found that dogs have a limited colour range in their vision
  • Canines use these colours to distinguish between items

There’s a common misconception that dogs can only see in monochrome and use varying brightness levels to identify the outlines of items.

Yet Russian scientists have now proved not only do dogs have a limited colour range, they use this visual spectrum to distinguish between objects and select certain items from a line-up.

Previously, dog trainers would avoid using coloured objects when training pets to do certain tasks, but these findings could improve how animals are trained and what they are capable of learning.

There's a common misconception that dogs can only see in monochrome and use brightness levels to see the outlines of items.

There’s a common misconception that dogs can only see in monochrome and use brightness levels to see the outlines of items. Russian scientists have now proved not only do dogs have a limited colour range, they use this visual spectrum to distinguish between objects and select certain items

WHAT COLOURS CAN DOGS SEE?

How the vision of the dog compares to humans

For decades, scientists believed dogs could only see in monochrome and used brightness levels – whether something looked lighter or darker next to another object – to identify outlines of items.

However, last year scientist Jay Neitz from the University of Washington, carried out experiments on dogs to test this theory.

Human eyes have three ‘cones’ that detect colour and can identify red, blue, green and yellow wavelengths created by light entering the eye.

Neitz discovered that dogs only have two cones – this means they can distinguish blue and yellow, but not red and green.

This is the same spectrum seen by humans when they have colourblindness.

A team of researchers from the Laboratory of Sensory Processing at the Russian Academy of Sciences tested the sight of eight dogs of varying sizes and breeds.

They wanted to expand on the work from the University of Washington last year.

Scientist Jay Neitz from the American university carried out experiments on dogs to test whether they could see in colour or not.

He discovered that while human eyes have three ‘cones’ that detect colour and can identify red, blue, green and yellow light; dogs only have two.

This means dogs can distinguish blue and yellow, but not red and green.

The Russian scientists therefore printed four pieces of paper in different colours; dark yellow, dark blue, light yellow and light blue.

The dark and light hues were used to test the theory that dogs use brightness levels to distinguish between items.

In the first test, researchers took a dark yellow and light blue sheet of paper, as well as a dark blue and light yellow combination and put them in front of food bowls placed inside locked boxes.

They then unlocked one of the boxes and put the dark yellow piece of paper in front of the box containing a piece of raw meat in each trial.

Each test involved the dogs being allowed to try to open one box before being taken away.

Human eyes have three cones and can see the full colour spectrum
Dogs have two cones so can't distinguish between red and green - similar to humans with colour blindness

Human eyes contain three ‘cones’ that can distinguish between red, blue, yellow and green light making it possible to see the full colour spectrum, left. Dogs only have two cones, meaning they can’t distinguish between red and green and see colours on a blue and yellow scale, right

It only took three trials for the dogs to learn which colour paper was sat in front of the box containing the raw meat.

Once the dogs could identify that a piece of dark yellow paper meant meat was nearby, the researchers wanted to check whether the animals were choosing this paper because of its brightness or its colour.

To do this they put the dark blue paper in front of one box and light yellow in front of another.

If the dogs chose the dark blue paper, the scientists could rule that the animals were making choices based on brightness.

During tests, different coloured paper was put in front of food bowls.

During tests, different coloured paper was put in front of food bowls. Dogs were trained to learn that dark yellow paper was always put in front of bowls containing meat. Even when light yellow paper was used, the dogs still found the meat meaning they used colour rather than brightness when making decisions

However, if they chose the light yellow paper, the choices were based on colour.

Each dog chose the light yellow paper – meaning they were making choices based on colour – more than 70 per cent of the time.

Six out of the eight dogs made the colour choice between 90 and 100 per cent of the time.

In conclusion, the researchers said: ‘We show that for eight previously untrained dogs colour proved to be more informative than brightness when choosing between visual stimuli differing both in brightness and chromaticity.

‘Although brightness could have been used by the dogs in our experiments, it was not.

‘Our results demonstrate that under natural photopic lighting conditions colour information may be predominant even for animals that possess only two spectral types of cone photoreceptors.’

 

 

Dogs Prefer Praise to Treats


Whether it’s treats, praise, or belly rubs, most dog owners would probably say they know the best way to motivate their dog to behave. Scientists put that to a test for a 2016 study in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neurosciencethat looked at what happened in dogs’ brains when they were praised versus when they got food rewards. The researchers put 15 dogs in an fMRI device designed to scan the brain for areas of increased blood flow, then began their experiment.

They presented each dog with a toy car and then had their owners praise them. In other tests, the dogs saw a toy horse and then received a juicy piece of hot dog. In 13 of the 15 dogs, activity in the brain’s reward center during praise was equal or greater than activity when they received the food treat. To test how reliable the brain scans had been, a subsequent experiment had the dogs run down a Y-shaped maze that had their owner on one side and a bowl of treats on the other.

Sure enough, the dogs that preferred their owners’ praise were more likely to head toward their owner, whereas the few dogs that preferred the treat consistently chose the food. Though these kinds of tests might have obvious results for everyday dog owners, they could mean big things for service dogs. Jobs that involve close human contact might be better for those who show a preference for praise, while more independent jobs such as search and rescue might be best for dogs motivated by treats. Explore dog psychology with the videos below.

Dogs can read human emotions, study finds


New research shows dogs can form abstract mental representations of negative and positive emotions and recognise how their owner is feeling.

The study showed that dogs could go beyond recognising facial cues to actual emotional perception

The study showed that dogs could go beyond recognising facial cues to actual emotional perception

Dogs really are man’s best friend, it seems, as researchers have shown they can recognise emotions in humans by combining information from different senses.

They are the only creatures outside of humans who have been observed to have that ability.

A team of animal behaviour experts and psychologists from the universities of Lincoln and Sao Paulo showed dogs form abstract mental representations of positive and negative emotional states, rather than just displaying learned behaviours.

Guide Dog puppies

Dogs are also good at recognising each other’s emotions

Seventeen domestic dogs in the experiment were shown pairs of pictures, either of a person, one happy, one angry, or of a dog looking playful or aggressive. They were then played sounds of playful or aggressive barks or a person’s voice saying “venha ca” (Portuguese for “come here”) in either a cheerful or angry tone.

The scientists found that the dogs tended to look at the picture that matched the tone of the voice, picking out the right human facial expression more often than not.

“This cognitive ability has until now only been evidenced in primates and the capacity to do this across species only seen in humans.”
Dr Kun Guo

The dogs were even better at recognising the tone of other dogs.

Researchers in Vienna last year found that dogs could tell whether a person was happy or angry just by looking at their face.

But this study showed that dogs could go beyond recognising facial cues to actual emotional perception.

 

Researcher Dr Kun Guo, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology, said: “Previous studies have indicated that dogs can differentiate between human emotions from cues such as facial expressions, but this is not the same as emotional recognition.

“Our study shows that dogs have the ability to integrate two different sources of sensory information into a coherent perception of emotion in both humans and dogs.

“To do so requires a system of internal categorisation of emotional states. This cognitive ability has until now only been evidenced in primates and the capacity to do this across species only seen in humans.”

Road deemed too dangerous by Royal Mail because of dog with 'intense hatred of postmen'

Does your dog know what you’re feeling?  

Co-author Professor Daniel Mills, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said: “It has been a long-standing debate whether dogs can recognise human emotions. Many dog owners report anecdotally that their pets seem highly sensitive to the moods of human family members.

“However, there is an important difference between associative behaviour, such as learning to respond appropriately to an angry voice, and recognising a range of very different cues that go together to indicate emotional arousal in another.

“Our findings are the first to show that dogs truly recognise emotions in humans and other dogs.

Dogs are cleverer than cats because their friendly character has helped them develop bigger brains, a study set to end the argument between pet lovers has shown.  researchers have discovered that cat’s brains are smaller because they are less social

Other than humans, dogs are the only creatures that have been shown to be able to read emotions across species  

“Importantly, the dogs in our trials received no prior training or period of familiarisation with the subjects in the images or audio. This suggests that dogs’ ability to combine emotional cues may be intrinsic.

“As a highly social species, such a tool would have been advantageous and the detection of emotion in humans may even have been selected for over generations of domestication by us.”

Dogs are also able to imitate each other’s expressions, indicating they have the capacity for empathy.

It’s finally proven – scientists test whether cats or dogs love us more


A puppy and a kitten

The eternal dispute between dog and cat lovers will probably never end.

However, scientists have found out which out of our feline or canine friends love us more.

As part of a new BBC2 documentary called “Cats v. Dogs”, hosted by animal experts Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin, a neuroscientist has investigated which species prefers humans.

We already knew that, like humans, dogs release the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin.

This test has never before been done on cats.

“We have pretty good evidence that dogs actually love their humans,” according to Dr Paul Zak, who conducted the study. “A couple of small-scale studies have shown that when owners interact with their dogs, the human and their dog appear to release oxytocin.

“It’s one of the chemical measures of love in mammals. Humans produce the hormone in our brains when we care about someone. For example, when we see our spouse or child the levels in our bloodstream typically rise by 40-60 per cent.”

The neuroscientist checked the oxytocin levels in both cats and dogs after playing with their owners.

He took saliva samples from 10 cats and 10 dogs on two occasions – 10 minutes before a playtime session with their owners and immediately after – and tested both samples for oxytocin.

The results show the hormone increased by an average of 57.2 per cent in dogs but only by 12 per cent in cats.

This means in theory, dogs love their humans more than cats do.

“I was really surprised to discover that dogs produced such high levels of oxytocin… the dog level of 57.2 per cent is a very powerful response. It shows these dogs really care about their owners. It was also a nice surprise to discover that cats produce any at all. At least some of the time, cats seem to bond with their owners,” he added.

Some think that cats don’t actually like their owners at all – this study at least proves that wrong.

Cats beat out dogs in one area, however – they are better at surviving.

A study of 2,000 fossils has revealed that the felids are much better at surviving than canids.

A team of scientists found that cats have played a significant role in making 40 dog species extinct.

Cats often out competed dogs for food rations because they are generally more effective hunters.

No evidence has been found that dogs have ever wiped out a cat species.

The dog family – which includes wolves from which our domesticated dogs descend – originated in North America 40 million years ago.

20 million years later there were more than 30 species of dog on the continent. Then the cat family arrived and caused a period of dramatic decline among the dog family.

Sperm quality in dogs is rapidly declining, and it could be a big warning for human fertility


Food packaging chemicals have been implicated.

Scientists have assessed the fertility of male dogs in Britain over the past three decades to find that it’s declined by a whopping 30 percent across five common breeds.

While the researchers aren’t concerned that dogs will lose their ability to reproduce any time soon, they do say the find could have serious implications for human fertility, pointing to the possibility that industrial chemicals in our food packaging could be to blame.

“The dogs who share our homes are exposed to similar contaminants as we are, so the dog is a sentinel for human exposure,” lead researcher Richard G. Lea, from the University of Nottingham in the UK, told The New York Times. 

Back in 1988, Lea and his team decided to monitor changes in dog fertility by analysing a population of service animals at a centre for disabled people in England.

A total of 232 dogs from five different breeds – Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, curly coat retrievers, border collies and German shepherds – were included in the study, and the fertility has been tested every year up to 2014.

As Jan Hoffman explains for The Times, the benefit of working with these dogs in particular is that, not only do they come from an environment where systematic record-keeping is kept for their health and lineage, but they’re also being raised in one location with uniform conditions.

Each year, a selection of 42 to 97 dogs within the group had their fertility tested via sperm samples, and at different intervals throughout the 26 years, dogs with the poorest sperm quality were removed from the test group.

When the researchers looked at the percentage of sperm with healthy motility – the ability to swim in a straight line – they found that it dropped by 2.4 percent every year between 1988 and 1998.

Once the dogs with the worst sperm were removed from the group, the team found that the sperm motility continued to decline by 1.2 percent every year from 2002 to 2014, with an overall decline of 30 percent across the entire study period.

And there were other problems, too.

“Between 1994 and 2014, they also noticed that the mortality rate of the female puppies, although small, showed a threefold increase,” says Hoffman. “And the incidence of undescended testicles [where testes fail to correctly descend into the scrotum] in male puppies, also small, had a 10-fold increase, to 1 percent from 0.1.”

Lea and his team are yet make any definitive conclusions about the cause, but they did confirm the presence of environmental chemicals called PCBs and phthalates in both the dogs’ semen and in testicles removed by vets during routine desexing procedures.

They also found traces of the chemicals in the food given to the dogs.

Once used in the manufacture of plastics and paints, PCBs were widely banned back in the 1970s and ‘80s, and diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) has been noted for its potential health risks. But they have a long half-life, and are virtually impossible for us to avoid completely.

“The scientists cannot determine how the chemicals were introduced into the food supply; these are not additives,” says Hoffman. “But Lea and his colleagues speculate that they could be in the packaging as well as in water that came into contact with any ingredients.”

The most worrying thing here is that more than 60 studies – though controversial – have reported a recent decline in human semen quality, in the 53 years between 1938 and 1991, and, as Tim Radford reports for The Guardian, PCBs and phthalates “are ubiquitous, and have been linked to both fertility issues and birth defects”.

And while the decline in human semen quality is still hotly debated, the recent increases testicular cancer and undescended testicles in human babies are not.

But whether or not harmful environmental chemicals are to blame has yet to be confirmed, and Lea and his colleagues have so far only made a correlation between the two things in dogs – not a causative link.

“If you think about it, we are exposed to a cocktail. Who knows how many chemicals are out there and what they are doing?” Lea told The Guardian.

“What we have been able to do here is just to pull out ones that we know are present, and we have tested those in terms of their effects and it does suggest there is an impact. The next stage – and it is a big next stage – is trying to tease out what else is there and how those chemicals are interacting.”