Friday Tip of the Day – What’s going on inside your pet’s head, part 2

September 7, 2012 at 6:12 am Leave a comment

This is a continuation of last Friday’s post, What’s going on inside your pet’s head, part 1.  It’s taken from the PARADE  section of the Wenatchee World and written by Marilyn vos Savant.

6.  Why do dogs sniff around so much before deciding where to pee?
“Before there was Facebook, there were telephone poles,” jokes Stephen Zawistowski, Ph.D., science adviser for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  Canines’ highly acute sense of smell enables them to gather all sorts of information from the scents of other dogs’ urine, including which dogs passed by, how long ago they visited, even whether they were male or female.  “It’s like a news feed; your dog is just taking his time to read everything that happened before he got there,” Zawistowski explains.

7.  Why do cats hate getting wet?
They don’t.  Well, at least not all of them – some breeds of cats like Turkish Vans, will actively seek out water.  What they do hate are unplanned soakings:  slipping into a pool or being squirted with a garden hose or disciplined with a spray bottle.  If you have a kitten and want to teach him not to fear a bath, Exkstein recommends the following technique:  Place the kitten in a dry sink on a nonskid mat for several minutes with some treats.  Repeat this for a few days.  Then slowly add a bit of water to the sink each day.  “Eventually, your cat will come to associate water and bath time with rewards, rather than punishment,” says Eckstein.

8.  Do pets have any sense of time?
Animals, like humans, have internal body clocks that are sensitive to the time of day.  They also can accurately measure intervals between events; if a rat receives a reward for sticking its head in a feeder one minute after hearing a tone, it will start poking its head in more frequently as the 60-second mark approaches.  “The more controversial question is whether they have a sense of time that extends well into the past and  into the future,” says Bill Roberts, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at Western University in Ontario.  For years, experts assumed that animals were stuck in the here and now, but Roberts, who studies animal cognition, says that recent research shows that pets may possess at least a limited mental timeline.
In one of the most famous studies, researchers from the University of Cambridge and UC Davis allowed scrub jays to hide wax worms and peanuts in different locations and then permitted the birds to retrieve the treats either four hours or five days later.  The birds prefer worms, so it was no surprise that after the four-hour delay, the jays sought them out before the peanuts.  But worms don’t last as long as peanuts, and so after five days – at which point the worms were well past expiration date – the jays sought out the peanuts before the worms.  This suggested that the jays had a sense of when the food had been cached.

9.  Why do dogs pant? (And what about cats?)
Panting is a way for dogs to cool off.  (It can also be a sign of excitement.)  Both cats and dogs have sweat glands on the pads of their paws, but these aren’t enough to effectively cool their entire bodies.  Panting, which brings quick gusts of air over dogs’ moist tongues, is much more effective.  Overheated cats will pant, too – they’re just less likely to spend a scorching afternoon chasing squirrels.

10.  Are onions and chocolate really poisonous to pets?
Yes – but for different reasons, and to varying degrees, says veterinarian Ahna Brutlag, assistant director of veterinary services at the Pet Poison Hotline.

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Friday tip of the day – What’s going on inside your pet’s head Part 1 A Fiery Week in Wenatchee

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