Do Dogs and Cats Have Taste Buds?

taste micoloBy Linda Cole

When considering what a dog is willing to woof down, you can’t help but wonder if they actually taste what they eat. It doesn’t seem to matter to a dog whether it’s their favorite CANIDAE meal, a bug or an ice cube. My dogs will eat everything with gusto as if it had been prepared by a top chef. My cats hunt flies, spiders and other small creatures, and occasionally an overlooked dust bunny. The senses of dogs and cats are far superior to ours, but do they have taste buds, and can they really taste what they eat?

Taste buds play an ingenious role in human and animal survival and are designed to help keep us alive. Without the ability to distinguish between certain tastes it would be difficult to know which foods are safe to eat and which ones to avoid. Something that tastes bad usually means it could be harmful to swallow, and a good taste would be an indication it is safe to consume. All vertebrates have taste buds on their tongues, but how many a species has depends on which tastes they need to be able to detect to stay safe. Humans have about 10,000 taste buds, whereas dogs only have around 1,700 and cats have approximately 470. Because herbivores, like cows for example, dine on a large variety of plants, more taste buds are needed to help them tell if a plant is toxic or beneficial for them to eat.

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10 Useful Ways We Serve Our Dog “Boss”

dog boss jespahjoyBy Laurie Darroch

From a dog’s point of view, a human’s “job” is to provide endless personal services to the canine members of the household. We seem to think we have them trained, but with a dog in the house you quickly realize they are in charge and we are just the servants who love and care for them. Their needs are our commands. If we do not do our various jobs properly, they will let us know. No complaints from us are allowed. We live to serve our dogs and do it with a smile.

Massage Therapist

Humans have two hands with ten fingers. That means we have multiple digits created just for scratching a favorite spot behind a dog’s ears, or a good spot on their back or stomach. A full massage is always nice too. If those hands are occupied with some mundane unnecessary task, we must immediately set that aside and perform our assigned duty of petty and scratching. The exception is if our hands are busy getting them their CANIDAE meals or treats. Then the lack of required petting and scratching is temporarily forgiven. They consider themselves reasonable bosses, after all.

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Extinct Dog Breeds We’ll Never Get to Meet

Southern_HoundBy Langley Cornwell

The World Canine Organization assembled a list of 339 different dog breeds that are agreed upon and recognized internationally. That’s a lot of dog breeds! But what this comprehensive list doesn’t include are the many different breeds that used to be documented, but are now extinct.

You may wonder how a dog breed becomes extinct. It’s generally at the hands of humans. We have either lost interest in preserving a certain breed or we have selectively bred that particular dog breed into a completely new breed. Here are a few interesting dog breeds that are no longer with us.

Southern Hound

A slow and methodical tracker, the Southern Hound was one of the oldest scent and tracking breeds ever documented. This big, plodding dog with long legs and a deep voice dates all the way back to the early 1400s. Known for his ability to track trails that had already gone cold, he was an expert (albeit slow) rabbit and deer hunter. As the Renaissance was coming to an end, hunters began to favor faster prey, so fox hunting rose in popularity. Because the Southern Hound was such a deliberate, steady tracker, he wasn’t the best choice for this fast-moving sport. Looking for a speedier dog, hunters began cross-breeding Southern Hounds with quicker, lighter breeds. The result was the beginnings of modern-day scent hounds including Beagles, Bloodhounds and Foxhounds.

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5 Dog-Friendly National Parks

national parks fpat murrayBy Linda Cole

There are 58 national parks in the United States, and each one has its own awe-inspiring beauty and wildlife to enjoy. Last year, almost 70 million people visited a national park. If you are planning a trip that includes your dog and would like to take in the views of our national parks, some do allow limited access for canines, and five are considered to be “dog friendly.”

Pet access varies from park to park. Park superintendents have the authority to adjust pet policies at their specific park to ensure that the land, wildlife and the pets are protected. It’s important to plan ahead before heading out to a national park, historic site or seashore, and do research to make sure pets are welcome. Many national parks only allow dogs in designated areas like roads and developed areas. Most trails or wilderness areas are off limits to canines. Finding lodging for you and your pet can also be a challenge, but some parks do have kennels for pets. The only exception are service dogs who are allowed to go everywhere with their owner.

You can find current information about pet policies, entry fees, park hours and scheduled events at national parks on the National Park Service website. For pet policies, go to the search bar in the upper right hand corner where it says “find a park.” Click on a state and scroll down to find the national park you’re interested in. On the left side, click on plan your visit, click basic information, scroll down and click pets. You will also notice a red box for park alerts such as weather updates and construction projects.

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How to Read Your Dog’s Wagging Tail

dog tail fauxtoBy Laurie Darroch

It may seem like a dog’s wagging tail is conveying something very simple, such as happiness. However, the language that tail is communicating and the way the dog is using his tail, may be telling you more than you realize. Tail wagging is another way your dog communicates with you; he uses this particular type of body language to convey specific feelings which mean much more than just “I am happy.”

A wagging tail has many meanings, ranging from happiness and excitement to fear, nervousness, a friendly greeting, or simply an acknowledgement that the dog knows you or accepts you. The position of a dog’s tail – when they are wagging it or it is stationary, or if they are reacting to something such as praise or verbal scolding – gives you information on what they are feeling and communicating.

High vs. Low

The position of a dog’s tail can carry meaning with it as much as the actual motion does. A high wag is exuberant and excited in some way. A low wag may be a more subdued and unsure way your dog shows pleasure, or even pain. A wag in the middle is more relaxed.  Think about a dog who has done something naughty or is fearful and tucks their tail between their back legs. This is a submissive or fearful gesture. It can also mean your dog is not feeling well.

Wagging tails are held in different positions for different reasons. For example, a wagging tail held high may be a sign of anger or aggression. Conversely, a low held wagging tail is a much more submissive gesture.

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Home Remodeling Hazards for Pets

remodel jenniferBy Linda Cole

Many homeowners like to spruce up their house with fresh paint, needed repairs or a complete makeover for an outdated room. However, homes with pets need to be especially vigilant when the power tools and paint brushes come out. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or hire someone, there are home remodeling hazards for pets that you need to be aware of.

Lead Paint

It’s common to find lead paint in homes built before 1978, and many homeowners aren’t aware of it. Lead can be found in linoleum, old putty around windows, or old paint covered over with non-leaded paint, wallpaper or paneling. When lead paint is scraped off or sanded, it turns into dust and contaminates the air. This dust can put pets at risk of lead poisoning when they ingest the dust while grooming. Pets can be exposed to lead by chewing on woodwork or ingesting flakes or chips of paint that have fallen off.

If you aren’t sure whether the existing paint is lead based, testing kits can be found at many home repair stores; it’s recommended to test before beginning any scraping or sanding. If you find lead paint in your home, it’s best to talk to a professional who is knowledgeable about lead-based paints before continuing.

Paints, Stains and Varnishes

Most products for inside use are water based and not as toxic to pets, but they can cause diarrhea and vomiting. If your dog or cat gets a water based product on them, it can be washed off with warm water and dish soap. If you’re dealing with an oil-based product, keep your pet from licking it off and wait for it to dry. When it’s dry, use scissors or clippers to cut it from their coat. Paint thinner, turpentine or mineral spirits should never be used to remove paint, stains or varnishes from your pet’s coat, because they can cause painful chemical burns. Keep pets away from opened cans of these products.

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