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.

DNA Study shows disease causing variants in cats

Studying the DNA of animals helps breeders produce healthier animals. A recent study conducted by Heidi Anderson from Wisdom panel in the USA and researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland found that there were 13 genetic variants in pedigree cats that are linked to diseases. This was more than researchers previously thought. The good news is that these variants are decreasing in breeds that are regularly DNA tested.

The researchers studied over 11,000 cats which included 90 pedigree breeds and breed types as well as 617 non-pedigree cats. What is interesting is that the researchers found that there was more genetic diversity in the non-pedigree cats. The non-pedigree cats had three disease associated variants found exclusively in non-pedigree cats. The bad news is that they found 13 disease associated variants in 47 breeds where none had been found previously. In the past, 40% of Persian cats were affected by PKD1, the variant that causes Polycystic Kidney Disease yet of the 118 Persians tested, none had the variant, yet it was found in Main Coon and Scottish Straights cats. Good breeding practices will continue to provide healthier pets for everyone.

Does a dog owners stress level affect their dog?

According to a study conducted at the Linköping University, Sweden dogs mirror their owners stress level. The study is just the beginning and more research is needed. The dogs in the study were Border Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs owned by woman. The researchers did note that the higher level of stress did not influence the dog’s personality but it did affect the owners. They also took into consideration that the two breeds studied are bred to respond quickly to commands from their owners. Additional studies are planned to

explore other breeds with the goal of being able to match dogs and people more successfully. They want to see if other breeds are not as affected by their owner’s stress level.

Sue’s Note: It is critical that the climate of a household and the people in it are seriously considered when selecting a breed or type of dog to add to the family. Certain breeds are more active than others. It is never a good idea to introduce a highly excitable dog into a very active household. For example, some terriers may not be a good match for a home where there are young, highly active children. Just like people, dogs can reach their tolerance level and if pushed too far may withdraw or bite.

Living with dogs has an unusual benefit – prevention of Crohn’s disease

Researchers used an environmental questionnaire to evaluate 4300 people related to family members who had Crohn’s disease. Interestingly they found that one of the factors that surfaced was that children between the ages of 5 – 15 who lived with dogs and/or a large family were less likely to develop Crohn’s disease. The study did not indicate that living with cats had the same benefit. Other factors also came into play, and the connection is not entirely clear, but it is promising and warrants further research.

Do octopuses, squid and crabs have emotions?

If they do, then this may change the way people think of these creatures. In a view shattering report, Kristin Andrews, a York University Professor, and also the York Research Chair in Animal Minds, who is working with the London School of Economics supported by the U.K. government has concluded that there is enough proof that decapod crustacean’s and cephalopod mollusks have feelings.

Scientists have demonstrated that octopuses can solve complex puzzles and that they show preferences for different individuals. This is a huge leap in traditional beliefs. For example, even up to the 1980’s it was believed that human babies who were pre-verbal and animals did not feel pain. However, research has shown that mammals, fish, octopuses and crabs, avoid pain as well as dangerous locations. Mammals have shown empathy and concern when their young are in pain.

photo from dreamstime

This research has opened the door to consider whether or not these animals experience curiosity, affection or look forward to a future reward. But more importantly, just as the United Kingdom is seriously considering amendments to its animal welfare legislation that acknowledges the feelings of these beings, so must the rest of the world.

Sue’s Note: Think about the thought process that it takes to solve complex puzzles and show preference to a specific individual. Wouldn’t that indicate the presence of emotions? When someone prefers one thing over another, isn’t that an example of an emotional reaction? Think about it.   

Fish can perform addition and subtraction

The research group led by Prof. Dr. Vera Schluessel from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Bonn has proven that Cichlids and stingrays can perform simple addition and subtraction up to the number five. The researchers still do not understand how fish use this ability.

Google free images

What makes this very interesting is that fish do not have the part of the brain that allows them to perform complex cognitive tasks and these species of fish do not need the ability to count in the wild. Other species of fish do pay attention to the number of eggs in their clutch.

Author’s Note: It is always amazing to learn that fish and animals have more intelligence than humans assumed that they have. It makes it exciting to think of what is yet to be discovered and should make people pause the think about how we treat other species.

Artificial intelligence can now analyze animal behavior

Researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed an automated way to analyze the recordings of animal behavior. The program uses computer vision and machine learning that can distinguish individual animals. The AI program can identify specific behaviors such as curiosity, fear, stress, anxiety and discomfort and harmonious social interactions.

Google free images

The advantage is that this technique can be used by many scientists which will allow them to compare results. It saves the researchers hours of viewing recordings of animals.

The application will be especially useful for the animals kept in zoos to determine their behavior and detect any problems that might go unnoticed by zoo keepers.

Author’s Note: Perhaps this will lead the way for veterinarians to better able to detect pain in pets.

Cannabis poisoning in pets

Since the use of cannabis has become legal in Canada and the United States, there has been an increase in the number of pets who have suffered cannabis poisoning. Researcher Richard Quansah Amissah of the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues have conducted a study of this problem.

Although most of the animals that suffered from cannabis poisoning were dogs, the other pets included, cats, iguanas, ferrets, horses and cockatoos. Most of the poisoning was due to the pets eating cannabis edibles.

The symptoms (mostly in dogs) included urinary incontinence, disorientation, and a slow heart rate. Most pets were treated as outpatients and recovered. Although some died, it is not clear if there may have been underlying medical issues that contributed to the death of the pet.

Authors Note: Cannabis edibles should be treated as any other drug and kept in a safe place where pets, children and other adults who are not authorized to use cannabis, cannot ingest the products.  

Exploring a vegan diet for dogs

Many people are vegan’s and would prefer to feed their dogs an all-vegan diet. However, the traditional belief was that dogs were carnivores and need to eat meat. However, in reality dogs are omnivores and need a balanced diet. A recent study of 2500 dogs to determine the difference between a conventional diet, raw meat diet and vegan diet had some interesting results.

Dogs on a raw meat diet were healthier than those on a vegan diet and those on conventional diet were the least healthy. However, it should be noted that the researchers felt that the data was not conclusive because the dogs on raw meat diets were younger and less likely to be taken to a veterinarian. The researchers felt that people who had dogs on raw meat diets were less likely to seek veterinarian advice.      

The researchers felt that more studies need to be conducted. They agreed that feeding a raw meat diet has been linked to an increased risk of pathogens and nutritional deficiencies. They also considered that a nutritionally sound vegan diet may be the healthiest and least hazardous diet for dogs.  

Authors Note: Sifting through the dog food maze can be daunting. No pet food survey agrees which foods are the best. I have seen brands come and go, some start as top quality then change their formula to a very low quality. I have always believed that supplementing a high-quality commercial diet (which provides the balanced nutrients a dog needs) with table scraps (the highest quality food you can give a dog) with raw fruit and vegetables gives a dog all that they need. The brands of dog food that my research has shown to be the best are Wysong and Annamaet.

Many pet owners do not handle pet food safely

A recent study conducted by Dr. Emily Luisana of North Carolina State University in Raleigh and her colleagues demonstrated that many pet owners do not handle pet food and bowls safely. According to their study people did not handle their pet food or pet dishes in manner that reduces the bacteria that causes illness in both people and pets.

Pet food should not come in contact with surfaces where human food is prepared, bowls must be thoroughly cleaned and/or sanitized and people should wash their hands after handling food and bowls.

Sue’s Note: This is especially important where children are concerned because they will touch pet food and bowls, and possibly put their fingers in their mouths without washing them.

photo from freepic

Older pets whose digestive systems are weakened from age or illness may not be able to tolerate the bacteria buildup and suffer further health issues. Treats such as rawhide, natural bones, pig ears, cow hooves and other such products are a high risk due to the bacteria on them as well as a choking or intestine blockage risk for dogs.

Pet bowls and any utensils used with the pet food such as forks, spoons, etc. should be washed with very hot water and soap or run through a dishwasher after each use, this would include water bowls which should be cleaned at least daily.

Being in the Pet Care Business Could Help You Make a Lot of Money Each Month

guest blogger Brandon Butler

According to research, Americans spend an average of $100 on their pet each month. So, it comes as no surprise that the pet care industry is a profitable industry to be in, especially if you are thinking of starting up your own pet care business.

Check out Susan Bulanda’s blog  and website for more insightful content like this article.

Pick a niche business idea

There is a plethora of opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to enter the pet care business such as opening an e-commerce pet store, pet training, pet grooming, pet sitting, and much more. It is important to first decide on which business appeals to you and that ideally matches your strengths so that you have a great start.

image from pexels

Next, create a business plan

Creating a business plan is a vital step in establishing any business, and a pet care business is no different. It is a blueprint that details all the steps to get to where you want to be. Essentially, a business plan is your go-to plan that will involve all of the details of every aspect of your business. This will help you stay on course. Some of the details of a well-put-together business plan include your mission statement, the products or services you offer, your goals, sales and marketing objectives, your financial projections, etc.

Of course, one section of your business plan that’s going to require a fair amount of detail is the marketing plan. Moreover, you’re probably going to have to use many marketing channels and marketing tools to market your new business effectively. For example, business cards still work really well today (despite being around for decades) for marketing purposes. Business cards are also perhaps more memorable than email marketing because they are a tangible reminder of what you have to offer. With an online business card maker, you can customize your own business card using a premade template.

Getting the business basics in place

Creating a name for your business that is catchy, but that also speaks volumes about what you do can be a tricky thing to do. Also, it should be memorable enough so that your business instantly comes to mind when your services are needed. Next you have to decide on a business structure and start the filing process for that. You will need an EIN number, open a separate business bank account and apply for any licenses or permits if you need one.

Examine your financials

This can often be a complicated step if numbers aren’t your forte. However, it is vitally important if you need startup capital to achieving your business dream. That said, if you’re looking for additional capital, then a business loan isn’t your only option. Of course, you can also acquire start-up capital through other means such as bootstrapping, angel investors, venture capital, etc.

In conclusion, starting your own pet care business should be fairly given the high demand for pet care products and services. A genuine love for animals and a carefully thought-out plan will  make your new business venture a success.