Mechanical disease-sniffing device vs dogs

A number of researchers from various universities have joined together to try and develop a mechanical device that can rival the scenting ability of dogs to detect diseases in people. No one denies that dogs have a remarkable ability to detect the early stages of disease in humans. But the cost of training the dog and the dog’s length of service makes using them expensive. If scientists can develop a device that can equal a dog’s nose it would reduce a lot of the cost.

What has proven elusive to scientists is that dogs can pick up connections that researchers cannot mimic in a machine. For example, some dogs that have been trained to detect one type of cancer will identify other types of cancer as well. When the researchers tried to determine what the dogs were detecting, they were not able to. The differences were not detectable by current tests. What complicates the problem is that the different cancers that were detected by the dogs do not have any biomolecular signatures in common. The dogs were able to generalize from one kind of cancer to be able to identify others.  

The detection system that has been developed is 200 times more sensitive than a dog’s nose but the machine cannot figure out the elusive patterns that the dog can, that allows the dog to detect various cancers. In other words, the machine cannot think and make the connections. Until the researches solve the mystery, the machine cannot replace the dog.

The important point for people who use dogs for scent detection work is that dogs are capable of analyzing scent in a much more complex way then they have been trained to do. The bottom line is that if your scent dog gives you an indication that does not make sense to you, trust your dog and look further.

What you feed your puppy can cause adult skin problems

A team of researchers from the University of Helsinki have studied over 4000 dogs to determine how the food a puppy eats influences their likelihood of having skin allergies as an adult dog.

They found that a diet that does include raw tripe, organ meats and human meal leftovers resulted in the adult dog being less likely to have skin issues. Puppies that ate only prepared food such as kibble, heat dried meat, canned food, sausage packed food and fruit had a tendency to have more adult skin problems.

According to the research, it only takes adding 20% of raw food and human leftovers in a puppy’s diet to help protect the puppy from adult skin issues.

While the study did say that sweet fruit is included as a negative for puppy’s, it does not mention vegetables. I personally have always fed my dogs raw vegetables and some fruit as well as leftovers. No pet food has the human grades prime meat that humans eat, so leftovers are healthy for a dog to eat and should be added to the diet.

It is also very important to feed you dog and any other pet the highest quality food that you can find. I personally like Wysong and Annamaet.

Budget-Friendly Tips for Keeping Pets Healthy During Cold Weather by guest blogger Brandon Butler

The weather is cooling, and although most four-legged creatures enjoy a break from summer’s heat just as much as us two-legged creatures do, fall and winter can also pose certain dangers to our furry friends. Not all animals are equally equipped for cool temperatures, and your pet might need a little extra help to stay healthy and comfortable.

While a great fitting jacket or cozy pjs can be a great start on cold weather comfort, there is often more to it than that. With that in mind, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant Susan Bulanda presents some tips for giving them what they need without breaking the bank:

Stock Up on Basics

One important step towards keeping your furry friends safe in the cooler season is to stock up on basic supplies like food and any medications your pet needs. If you wind up stuck in inclimate weather, having a stockpile set aside can keep your pet happy and your stress levels low. Moreover, buying in bulk might cost more up front, but it can save you money in the long run.

Look for discounts online like a Chewy promo code to build a budget-friendly pet supply stockpile. Keep extra food somewhere cool and dry so it stays fresh for your pal. If your pet takes any medications, talk to your vet about getting extra before the cold season hits.

Stay On Top of Grooming

Many animals go through a cool-season shed. This allows them to grow out their thick winter coats. Although this is a vital tool for keeping them warm and cozy, it can be tough on them without proper grooming. Long-hair pets in particular can develop mats and hairballs, both of which are uncomfortable and have the potential to cause serious problems.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Some animals will need professional grooming once a season to remove blown-out coats. Look for affordable groomers in your area to find a good fit for your budget. If your buddy gets anxious at the groomers, try a natural relaxation technique like massage or essential oils to help them calm down for their big salon day.

Dress Your Pet for the Weather

Dogs in sweaters aren’t just extremely adorable – they’re also well-prepped for harsh temps. If your dog isn’t a cool-weather breed, it’s important to make sure they’re properly dressed for cold weather when you take them out for walks. This means doggy jackets and well-fitting boots. The dog-lovers over at Cuteness remind us that dogs can easily get frostbite on their paws if they’re not properly protected – after all, you wouldn’t want to walk barefoot in the snow, would you?

If you have a very young or senior pet, it’s especially important to get them something cozy when it’s cold. According to Dogster, these animals don’t have the ability to regulate body temperature their counterparts have, so their body temperature can drop dangerously in chilly conditions. If you have the skills, a great way to save money on pet clothes is to DIY your own designs. There are a ton of knitting, crocheting, and sewing patterns out there for the interested crafter.

If you want to give your pet a little extra coziness this winter, an indoor dog house may do just the trick. Just make sure you read up on the different available products to ensure you’re getting one suited to your dog’s size and temperament. The last thing you want is to spend money on something your pet will destroy in a matter of days.

Get a Checkup

Finally, consider scheduling your pet’s yearly check up for the start of fall. This will give you the chance to make sure they’re in good shape for the winter, as well as an opportunity to ask your vet if there are any other steps you can take to keep them healthy over the cooler months. Regular checkups keep your pet (and your wallet) safe by catching issues before they’re too serious, and more expensive to treat.

Keeping your furry friend healthy during winter is just one way to show them how much you love them. Think ahead before the weather gets rough so you have a plan for any possibility. You and your pet deserve to have a wonderful winter together!

COVID in dogs and cats

A study in the Veterinary Record, has reported a few cases of dogs and cats contracting the SARS-CoV-2 variant in England. In these cases, the pets caught the variant from their owners who had shown symptoms several weeks before the pets became ill. Heart problems were manifested in the pets who contracted the variant.

While this is not widespread and actually rare, it is a good idea for pet owners to be aware of the possibility since COVID-19 is so widespread. At this point the research does not indicate that people can catch the variant from pets.

Household noise and stress in dogs

We all know that some dogs seem to be more stressed than other dogs. Part of the reason is the genetics of the dog. Certain breeds tend to be more noise sensitive than others. But all dogs can be stressed by certain types of noise. Researchers at the University of California found that dogs are often stressed by common household noise. Particularly noises that are high frequency or very loud. Examples are smoke detectors, microwave ovens, and vacuum cleaners.

Many loud and high pitches noises actually hurt a dog’s ears. Most owners recognize obvious signs of fear or stress, such as trembling, hiding, howling, barking and running away. However, owners often miss a dog’s more subtle signs and therefore do not help their dog when stressed.  Some of the subtle signs are panting, licking their lips, turning their head away, a rigid body, ears turned back or flattened against the head, and lowering their head below their shoulders.

By watching your dog or cat carefully you can learn to recognize their relaxed body language. This will help you recognize when your pet is not relaxed.

Babs, totally relaxed

Whenever a stressful noise occurs, a concerned owner will remove the dog from the area. It is important to watch the dog’s body language to see how far away the dog needs to be to avoid being stressed.  

Cats are also stressed by noises therefore cat owners should also be aware if noise bothers their cat.

Pluskat totally relaxed

Cats often get a bad rap

Many people think that cats are asocial. Quite the opposite is true. Cats are very social animals but their way of showing it is quite different from dogs. Because people are used to dogs, they do not recognize the social behavior in cats. Also, many cat owners have just one cat, therefore they do not see cat to cat social interaction.

            From studying feral domestic cat populations, we have learned quite a bit about the cat’s social structure. Female cats, known as queens, will help each other raise their young. They even act as midwives to a queen giving birth. For example, they will help clean the newborn kitten and nurse them if they are lactating. They will groom and guard the kittens as well. Males, or tom’s will also help defend kittens in their colony.

            Cats will sleep together, touching, even if it is hot, which rules out some assumptions that they only sleep close to each other for warmth. Cats will form special friendships with each other, having preferences in the colony. Cats are very family oriented and are closer to relatives than a stranger. Although the colony will accept a strange cat after a period of time. This takes weeks to months, depending on the situation.

            When cats groom each other, it is almost always in areas that are hard to reach, such as the head, face and neck. It is considered bad cat manners to groom below the shoulders.

Another way cats communicate to each other is by rubbing. Anyone who has owned or seen cats would have seen head bumping, body and tail rubbing. Sometimes cats will wrap their tails together, which is a form of rubbing.

            Adult cats will also monitor the play between kittens. If the kittens get too rough, the adult will break it up. The kittens always listen and will stop their play.

            Cats do not hunt in groups. This is because each cat needs the equivalent of three mice a day to survive. Their hunting technique is to sit quietly, slowly stalk and then pounce. This does not lend itself to sharing the food. It is very rare for more than one cat to hunt together but it has happened, for example when trying to catch a squirrel. Cats will spray to mark their territory so that other cats, even those in the colony do not hunt in another cat’s area.   

Pluskat and Sunshine (budgie) who are friends

            Kittens need to stay with their litter until they are at least 12 weeks old. They go through developmental stages similar to other animals. They learn how to behave and how to interact with other cats while they are young. If they are taken away from the litter too soon, they do not know how to act like a cat. If the cat owner decides later to get another cat, the resident cat will not know how to accept or interact with the new cat. This is one of the reasons why people have trouble introducing a new cat to the home. It is always better to have two kittens instead of one, and if possible, adopt litter mates. Family is very important to cats.

Mimi

            Like dogs, there are many breeds of cats and there are breed traits. Despite the breed of mix of a cat, each individual will have its own personality. Some cats act more like dogs and some are very aloof. Some cats are bold and some are timid. All cats are different due to breeding, family involvement, early training and experiences. It is important to keep this in mind and not label all cats as having the same personality and temperament. By understanding your cat’s natural social behavior, you can make the quality of life for your cat much better.  

Separation anxiety in first year college students

Researchers at Washington State University conducted a study of first year (freshmen) college students who owned pets and their level of separation anxiety. What they found is not surprising to those of us who are pet owners and lovers.

The students were tested before leaving for college and during their first two weeks on campus. Prior mental issues were accounted for so that they did not influence the results of the study. What the researchers found was that students who treated their pets more like people suffered more. It also seems that dog owners suffered the most rather than cat owners and people with other types of pets.

My soul mate, Scout

The importance of this study shows that programs that allow pets to visit campus to help students that are stressed, are beneficial. What this study made me think of are all of the elderly people who are forced to give up their pets, who were their companions for many years, because they had to move to a care facility. Young people are active and seem to be able to adjust more readily than the elderly. This also brings to mind how important it is to bring certified therapy pets to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. No matter how young or old a person is, losing a pet for any reason is often very traumatic. Your heart can ache for the loss for many years.

Those amazing whiskers

A study has shown that rats determine the direction of the wind with their whiskers. Since many other animals such as dogs, foxes, coyotes and cats also have whiskers that are similar to those of a rat, is it possible that they also use their whiskers to determine the direction of the wind?

All wild animals also have to be aware of the direction of the wind to either find food or avoid being detected by predators. Therefore, the ability to determine the direction of the wind or even a slight breeze is a life and death skill.

cat whiskers

It seems reasonable that that they would use their whiskers as well as the movement of their fur to detect the direction of air movement. As a person who has trained many working dogs, I have seen dogs learn how to use the direction of the wind to find scent. It is quite an amazing thing to watch, and another example of how intelligent animals are.

Help for pets with dementia

I have had dogs who suffered from cognitive decline or dementia in their old age. Often these dogs are put down because they can no longer function properly. I wish this product had been available years ago.

Noted Veterinary Surgeon Dr. Theresa Fossum Adds CogniCaps, a cognitive function supplement, to her Popular Line of Natural Animal Supplements

Noted veterinary surgeon Dr. Theresa Fossum DVM, MS, Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS, and author of the most referenced book on its topic, Small Animal Surgery, has added a new product to her popular line of natural animal supplements Dr. Fossum’s Pet CareCogniCaps, to support healthy brain function in aging dogs.

Dr. Curtis Dewey, a veterinary neurologist with extensive knowledge of the brain concerns aging dogs often experience, collaborated on the development of CogniCaps with Dr. Fossum. The supplement, a combination of eastern and western modalities, was created in an easy to administer capsule format and contains a proprietary blend including our own BioCog formula (registration pending) plus vitamin E, zinc, naturally occurring phytochemicals such as curcumin, oral S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), and phosphatidylserine, a membrane phospholipid. In addition, the supplement contains a number of herbs from Traditional Chinese Medicine that have been shown to support cognitive function.

According to Dr. Dewey, the estimated prevalence of cognitive concerns in older dogs generally varies between 14% and 35% of the pet dog population; however, these numbers are likely an underestimation. As with people, cognitive decline in dogs can increase dramatically with age; as many as half of all dogs 11-12 years old are likely experiencing age-related decline, and nearly 70% of dogs over the age of 15 are affected. Importantly, dogs may show evidence of brain changes as early as 4-6 years of age.

Even mild or moderate changes in cognitive ability can make living with affected pets difficult. Dogs may become disoriented and frequently become “stuck” in a corner of a room, they may urinate or defecate in the house because they may be temporarily confused about where the appropriate place to go is. They may seem stressed, they may bark at inappropriate sounds or objects, and they may become less interactive with their owners. Affected dogs often develop sleep disturbances (they are active and may vocalize at night, but they sleep during the day). In a word, these pets show signs of senility.  

Dogs affected with changes in cognitive ability typically respond well to intervention, especially if instituted early in the process. Precautionary measures such as dietary changes and environmental enrichment can both help, and slow the progression of cognitive decline due to aging. This suggests that simple changes including health supplements as provided in CogniCaps may be generally advisable in pet dogs as they approach middle age.

Because there are so many individual health supplements for cognitive decline, veterinarians and their clients are often faced with the prospect of recommending multiple separate supplements to produce a positive response. It is also common practice to separate the recommendation into the categories of western and eastern medicine. Again, this conceptualization leads to the necessity of multiple supplements-both western (conventional) and eastern (non-conventional, holistic, etc.). Although pet owners often will administer multiple supplements to their senior dogs, it can be challenging. Also, it is unlikely that the average pet owner will administer multiple supplements to a well seeming middle-aged dog. CogniCaps is a truly integrative health supplement, combining a mixture of both western and eastern ingredients in one small capsule, allowing for ease of use for pet guardians to support keeping dogs’ minds sharp as they age.

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For more information on CogniCaps, please see https://drfossums.com/product/cognicaps-cognitive-function-supplement/. For information on Dr. Fossum’s full line of natural pet wellness products please see https://drfossums.com.

The Tools to XEL: Poetry for Prosperity by Lex Sloot

The Tools to XEL: Poetry for Prosperity by Lex Sloot, ISBN: 9-780975267912, 415 pgs. Hardcover, $29.95

This is an unusual book because through poetry and prose, this book is a guide for successful living. For example, in chapter 9 he states, “You are the Author of your own life story; All failings are yours, But so is the Glory.” There are 17 chapters that cover all aspects of life. Another example is: “Victory is not intended for him to tried and then surrendered.” The book has an index of Trucepts that allows the reader to find the topic that he needs advice about. What makes this book very unique is that although it has truisms, they are easy and fun to read. Some of the topics are: Your ally is adversity; Your magic mind contains the key; Your potential; There’s lesson to be learned; and Persevere while others fear. Sloot has mastered the advice genre in a fun and easy to read book.

Viability: The Essence of Existence, a book review

Viability: The Essence of Existence by Lex Sloot, ISBN: 13-978-0-9864287-6-0,

433 pgs. $29.95, hardcover.

This is an amazing book filled with practical advice, and philosophy. Viability deals with all of life’s challenges and concerns that everyone faces at one time or another. For example, in the section of his book titled Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Sloot states in his book that today, this is the historical present. What an interesting thought and a new way to look at today. The book includes an Index of Trucepts that covers every situation that a person might face. There is so much in this book that it is hard to write a comprehensive book review. Some of the topics in the book are: People deceive; Our customers tell us; My inner truth; Life is not always fair; I made a mistake; All individuals; Do not lose ground; and If you are driven, are just examples of the topics he covers.

I especially liked the section about government which in an unemotional way, explains the true dynamics of how the government works. Not only is this a worthy book to have, but it would be a wonderful gift for anyone from a teen to an adult. This is one of the most unusual books, with sage advice that I have not seen in a long time. There are three basic chapters with about 25 topics in each chapter.

You can purchase this book on Amazon