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March/April 2014
Pet Research of 2013
your larger pooch may not be around
in 10 years but a smaller choice more
likely will be?
Dr. Pat Grogan with VCAWoodland
East Animal Hospital in Tulsa says
there’s even more to consider than
length of years, but what is involved
during those years. “It is true that the
giant breeds of dogs have shorter
life expectancies, but there are other
factors that people should consider
before getting a very large dog,”
he says.
“Large dogs are more expensive to
care for—they eat more, require larger
beds and kennels, have higher pre-
ventive medication costs, and are
more expensive when they become ill.
Also, large dogs, if destructive or
aggressive can do more harm to
property and people. Having said this,
I love large dogs; however, I don’t
recommend they be the first dog you
ever own.”
Spay/Neuter, Longer Life
It’s no secret spaying and neutering
controls the pet population, but
research from the University of
Georgia shows the procedures can
prolong dogs’ lives.
“Researchers looked at a sample of
40,139 death records from the
Veterinary Medical Database from
1984–2004,” PawNation says. “They
determined that the average age of
death for dogs that had not been
spayed or neutered was 7.9 years
versus 9.4 years for dogs that had
been sterilized.”
Grogan says this research certainly
falls in line with what is known about
neutered versus intact dogs and can be
attributed to a number of causes. “We
know that un-neutered male dogs are
hit by cars in disproportionately high
numbers each year,” he says. “Intact
male dogs are much more likely to
roam from home, and that does not
always work out well for them.
“Also, both male and female dogs
can contract life-threatening diseases
involving their reproductive organs,
including infections and cancer. Female
dogs that are spayed before their first
heat cycle have been shown to have a
significantly reduced risk of mammary
cancer, and male dogs that are
neutered rarely have disease in their
prostate gland.”
Pet Store Puppy Problems
A University of Pennsylvania study
found that pet-store puppies are more
likely to display behavioral problems
later in life. Many factors contribute
to this, including the fact that their
mothers are under stress when
breeding in puppy mills, PawNation
reports. Additional concerns include
unusual aggression toward their
owners and other dogs, as well as an
increased chance of running away.
It is relevant to note “neutered pet-
store dogs were more well-behaved,
but still more aggressive than
neutered non-commercial dogs.” This
study serves as more reason to con-
tinue doing what we already know is
best—adopting shelter pets. Breeding
is a no-win situation.
Grogan says a puppy’s key social-
ization period is between 6 and 16
weeks of age—a time when puppies
need a “broad range of good ex-
periences with other pets and people.”
“Puppy mills and pet stores are not
the ideal settings for pups in this age
range, and truthfully some are more
affected by bad circumstances than
others,” he says. “I think that all pups
deserve a loving home no matter from
where they come.”
For anyone who finds this an area of
concern, Grogan says seek advice from
your veterinarian who can help assess
the temperament of the puppy you
may be considering before taking it
into your home.
Cautions of Homemade Dog Food
In an effort to eat healthier, less
processed whole foods, many folks
have taken to making more foods at
home, and that can include making
food for their pets. However, research
from the University of California
Davis says homemade dog food may be
worse than conventional as “it’s almost
never nutritionally complete.”
Particularly, the nutritional defi-
ciencies include choline, vitamin D,
zinc and vitamin E, “which could
result in significant health problems
such as immune dysfunction,
accumulation of fat in the liver
and musculoskeletal abnormalities,”
PawNation reports.
Emotional Creatures
“Dogs use specific facial expressions
to show emotion” a Japanese study
published in the journal Behavioural
Processes says. Each dog in the study
displayed different facial expressions
in reaction to a series of objects in-
cluding its owner, a stranger, a toy and
a non-desirable object.
The study found “the dogs raised
their eyebrows in response to seeing a
person, but raised them higher,
especially their left eyebrows, when
seeing their owners. When seeing a
stranger, the dogs moved their left
ears back slightly. Researchers believe
the dogs' facial movements reflect
activity in the parts of the brain that
control emotion,” PawNation says.
This serves as a good reminder to
care for your pets responsibly. They
aren’t objects, but living creatures
with real emotions; research proves it.
Birds Sense Speed Limits
Ever wonder how birds escape near
collisions with vehicles just in the nick
of time? New research shows birds
are able to sense and react to posted
speed limits. Birds reacted to average
speed limits, not actual speed limits,
PawNation says.
Pierre Legagneux, a behavioral eco-
logist at the University of Quebec in
Rimouski, found the birds "associate
road sections with speed limits as a
way to assess collision risk. So strictly
enforcing speed limits could reduce
bird collisions."
Being a bird brain might not be such
a bad thing after all.
Cat Eyes
A general assumption may be that
cats have an advantage over us hu-
mans regarding sight since they can
see well in the dark. However,
Photographer Nickolay Lamm pro-
duced a series of photographs
displaying how cats see differently
than humans—not better.
Cats see fewer colors, mostly in
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