Scents and Sensitivity: Dogs Know When We’re Happy or Angry

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Science is proving what pet owners have long believed: Dogs understand what we’re feeling. Specifically, dogs can recognize the difference between a happy and an angry human face, a study published Thursday in Current Biology suggests.

It’s the first research to show definitively that dogs are sensitive to our facial expressions, says coauthor Ludwig Huber, head of comparative cognition at Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

In the Austrian study, 20 pet dogs of various breeds and sizes were taught to play a computer game through a series of exercises. In the first, the dogs were shown two touch screens, one with a circle and one with a square. Through trial and error, they learned that a treat would appear if they chose the right geometrical figure.

Eleven of the 20 dogs were able to catch on to rules of the game and make it to the next phase, where they were shown photos of faces. Half the dogs were rewarded for picking a happy expression and half for choosing an angry expression. The interesting catch: the dogs were shown only the upper half or the lower half of a face.

It was easier to teach the dogs to choose a happy expression than an angry one, suggesting the dogs do indeed understand the meaning behind the expression, Huber says.

As a test, the dogs were then were presented with:

the same half of the faces they saw during the training, but from different people
the other half of the faces used in training
the other half of new faces
the left half of the faces used in training
In the vast majority of cases the dogs chose the right answer 70 to 100 percent of the time.

Dogs who had been trained to recognize an expression of anger or happiness on the upper part of a face could identify the same expression when shown only the lower part, and vice versa, Huber says, adding “the only possible explanation is that they recall from memory of everyday life how a whole human face looks when happy or angry.”

Dog owners know their pets not only recognize emotions but also feel empathy.

Delilah, a 3-year-old Chihuahua, always seems to know when her owner Eva Shure is having a bad day.
Delilah knows when her owner is having a bad day.
Making eye contact and cocking her head to the right, the little dog will stare at Shure’s face as if trying to assess her feelings. “It’s weird, I can see her thinking and processing,” says Shure, a 35-year-old New York City business owner. “I’ll say, yeah, it’s not a great day and she’ll come up and sit next to me.”

Beverly Levreault, 57, says her 6-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix is always tuned in to her moods. “If I’m not feeling well, like when I have the flu, Lacey is definitely lower key and will not leave my side, ” says Levreault, a graphic designer from Williamstown, New York. “If I take her for a walk, she’s not as rambunctious as she usually is.”

Lynette Whiteman says she’s not sure that her 5-year-old Yorkie-Maltese cross is using facial expressions to gauge how she feels. “But she definitely reads my emotions,” says the 58-year-old from Toms River, New Jersey. “I run a therapy dog program and the dogs are just amazing. They go into a room and immediately pick out the person who needs help.”

Behavioral experts say the new findings, while important, wouldn’t surprise anyone with an intimate knowledge of dogs.
Coco and Lynettte
“This new work continues to build the case for just how sensitive dogs are to our subtle behaviors,” says Dr. Brian Hare, chief scientific officer at Dognition and an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University. “This is the strongest evidence yet that dogs are even reading our facial expressions.”

That sensitivity may be the result of generations of selective breeding for a true partner, says Dr. Carlo Siracusa, director of the behavior service at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “We have selected animals that are able to perceive our emotions and communicate with us at a level that no other animal can,” Siracusa says.

Dogs may not talk, but they are very good communicators, says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor in the department of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and director of the animal behavior clinic at Cummings.

“Just as we are masters of the spoken word, dogs are experts at reading body language,” Dodman says.

“It’s almost impossible to hide your feelings from a dog.”

Turns out, reading facial expressions isn’t the only thing dogs have in common with us.

They can be bitten by the computer gaming bug. “They can really become freaks for it,” Huber says with a chuckle. “They don’t want to stop playing. It’s incredible. They’ll play till they are exhausted and fall asleep.”

 

Source: http://www.today.com/pets/dogs-know-when-were-happy-or-angry-2D80489190

 

Pet Dental Care

 The month of February is National Pet Dental Month, the perfect time to consider your pet’s oral health. The veterinary team at Animal Hospital of Colorado Springs recommends active, ongoing dental care to keep your pet’s oral cavity healthy and clean. After all, a healthy mouth leads to a healthy body. It’s important to remember that each pet is an individual and their care should be determined on an individual basis.

Schedule Your Pet’s Dental Check

If your pet’s breath is unbearable, or if there is buildup on their teeth, we recommend that you bring them in for a checkup so that Dr. Boley and his team can determine of your pet is in need of a professional cleaning. We invite you to contact us today to help get your pet on the right paw in their dental health!

E-Cigarettes and Pets Do Not Mix

E-cigarettes are sparking heated debates as lawmakers, medical professionals and industry grapple over the relative safety of the nicotine-delivering devices. But for pet owners, there is no debate. Nicotine poses a serious threat of poisoning to dogs and cats, and e-cigarettes back a powerful punch. The problem is that many pet owners don’t realize it.

Pet Poison Helpline has encountered a sharp uptick in calls concerning cases of nicotine poisoning in pets that ingested e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine refill solution. In fact, over the past six months, cases have more than doubled, indicating that along with their increased popularity, the nicotine-delivering devices are becoming a more significant threat to pets. While dogs account for the majority of cases, nicotine in e-cigarettes and liquid refill solution is toxic to cats as well. “We’ve handled cases for pets poisoned by eating traditional cigarettes or tobacco products containing nicotine for many years,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT and associate director of veterinary services at Pet Poison Helpline. “But, as the use of e-cigarettes has become more widespread, our call volume for cases involving them has increased considerably.” In an effort to educate pet owners before an accident occurs, Pet Poison Helpline offers this important safety information.

What are e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are simply another way of delivering nicotine. Designed to resemble traditional cigarettes, the battery operated devices atomize liquid that contains nicotine, turning it into a vapor that can be inhaled. The most recent craze is flavored e-cigarettes, which are available in an array of flavors from peppermint to banana cream pie, and everything in between.

What makes e-cigarettes toxic to pets?
The aroma of liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes can be alluring to dogs, and flavored e-cigarettes could be even more enticing. The issue is the amount of nicotine in each cartridge, which is between 6 mg and 24 mg. So, each cartridge contains the nicotine equivalent of one to two traditional cigarettes, but purchase packs of five to 100 cartridges multiply that amount many times over, posing a serious threat to pets who chew them. For example, if a single cartridge is ingested by a 50-pound dog, clinical signs of poisoning are likely to occur. But if a dog that weighs 10 pounds ingests the same amount, death is possible. Dogs of any weight that ingest multiple e-cigarette cartridges are at risk for severe poisoning and even death. In addition to the toxicity of nicotine, the actual e-cigarette casing can result in oral injury when chewed, and can cause gastrointestinal upset with the risk of a foreign body obstruction. Some e-cigarette users buy vials of liquid nicotine solution for refilling e-cigarette cartridges. The solution is commonly referred to as “e-liquid” or “e-juice.” The small bottles hold enough liquid to fill multiple cartridges, meaning they contain a considerable amount of nicotine. Pet owners should be very careful to store them out of the reach of pets.

What happens when e-cigarettes are ingested by pets?
Nicotine poisoning in pets has a rapid onset of symptoms – generally within 15 to 60 minutes following ingestion. Symptoms for dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, elevations in heart rate and respiration rate, depression, tremors, ataxia, weakness, seizures, cyanosis, coma, and cardiac arrest.

What to do if a pet is exposed?
Because nicotine poisoning can happen so rapidly following ingestion, prompt veterinary care can mean the difference between life and death for a pet. Home care is not generally possible with nicotine exposure due to the severity of poisoning, even in small doses. Take action immediately by contacting a veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680. As always, prevention is the best medicine. E-cigarettes, cartridges and vials of refilling solution should always be kept out of the reach of pets and children.

SOURCE: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/2014/09/e-cigarettes-pets-mix/ Published on September 2, 2014