Category Archives: canidae

What is a Flehmen Response in Cats?

flehmen bruceBy Langley Cornwell

Have you ever noticed your cat wrinkle up his nose like he smells something rancid? He may also lift up his head a bit and even pull back his lips, almost like a cartoon snarl or grimace. If you have seen it, you would know. It’s a distinctive look that catches your attention. Sometimes referred to as making a funny face or pulling a stinky face, this look is a real thing. It’s a biological response with a technical name: it’s called a Flehmen Response or a Flehmen Reaction. Sometimes the verb is shortened and simply called flehming.

Fun fact – Flehmen is a German word that means “lip curl” or “curl the upper lip.”

Some pet owners see their cat with a Flehmen Response and mistakenly think he is panting. Unlike dogs, cats don’t pant much. In most cases, cats only pant under extreme circumstances such as when they are in an overly stressful situation, when they are becoming dangerously overheated or when they are in labor.

So when your cat makes that funny face, even though it looks like he is either panting or smelling something bad, it’s really quite the opposite. When your cat has a Flehmen Response, he smells something he likes and he wants to further investigate the odor. That facial position allows him to taste the good smell so he can gather more information about it. Cats have a finely honed sense of smell, but the action is not all located in their noses.

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5 Benefits of Taking Your Dog Swimming

swimming scott nolanBy Laurie Darroch

For dogs who love to swim, playing in the water has many benefits. Swimming is an all-around healthy activity for your dog. It provides everything from exercise to stimulation, and a needed release for all that energy dogs have.

Exercise and Playtime

The most obvious benefit of swimming for your dog is exercise. Dogs often have excess energy to burn which needs to be channeled into activities that keep them active and healthy, and keeps them from being destructive out of boredom. Swimming is good for the whole body, from cardio to muscles. When a dog can swim, they are naturals and adapt to it very quickly. A good swimmer is fun to watch in the water.

Dogs who love to swim get a great deal of pleasure out of the activity. Some dogs will swim for hours, which is phenomenal exercise. It is even more fun when you go swimming along with your dog in the sea, a pool, or a lake. To add a little more excitement to the activity, bring along a ball or other object that floats for your dog to swim after and fetch.

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The Dickin Wartime Medal for Animal Heroes

Dickin_MedalBy Linda Cole

Throughout history, heroic humans have received medals for their courage and valor, especially in times of war. During World War II, a woman in Britain felt that animals used during wartime should receive distinction for their service as well. She created the Dickin Medal, Britain’s highest animal award; it’s given to animal heroes worldwide in the service of their country for their loyalty, outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty.

Maria Dickin lived the comfortable life of British high society. The shabby living conditions of the poor in London’s East End were far from the exquisite dinner parties and social gatherings of the wealthy. Like many well-to-do women of her time, Maria occupied her days doing charity work. One day, her work took her to the poor section of town. She was shocked and appalled by the overcrowded living conditions and disease surrounding her. However, it was the plight of animals living among them that caught her attention. Horses and donkeys were thin and crippled from hauling too many heavy loads. Sickly looking goats and rabbits were crammed into ragged backyards. Hungry cats and dogs had severe leg injuries, mange and other assorted ailments. Maria saw many animals in need of medical attention, but their destitute owners had trouble feeding their families and couldn’t afford medical care for pets or work animals.

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5 Books That Cats Could Write

cat books lifeBy Julia Williams

If I’d told someone ten years ago that cat authors would soon be all the rage, they’d have laughed me out of town. Back in those “dark ages,” felines just didn’t write books. I don’t think it was because cats didn’t have anything to say, though. I think the primary reason cats didn’t write books until recently was that they hadn’t realized they could command a human to do their transcribing!

Once felines got over the hurdle of not having opposable thumbs, cat books began popping up everywhere, and many have become bestsellers. The Dalai Lama’s cat covered a very important feline topic in The Art of Purring. Sparkle the Designer Cat offered sage advice for a feline’s most pressing problems in her two books. Felines explored the world of poetry in I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats. Psychokitty Max Thompson is a prolific feline author, with five books to date including The Rules: A Guide For People Owned By Cats.

So you see, cats writing books is nothing new. However, I don’t think cats have even scratched the surface of all of the topics they’re qualified to write about. Here are just a few.

1.  How to Fit Into Practically Anything

The postal service slogan “If it fits, it ships” inspired a hilarious cat version “If I fits, I sits” which the clever meme-makers had a field day with. So I thought since cats know a thing or two about fitting into the most unlikely places – including itty bitty fish bowls and boxes five times too small – they could write this informative guidebook in the style of the classic How to Clean Practically Anything.

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How Dogs Interpret Human Body Language

body language quinnBy Langley Cornwell

We all know how powerful a dog’s sense of smell is. In fact, smell is a dog’s primary sense; they interpret the world predominately through their olfactory system while humans interpret the world predominately through our visual system. Even so, both humans and dogs use senses to understand what’s going on around them. But did you know that, just like humans, dogs rely on more than just their senses to figure things out? Dogs are experts at reading body language, and not just each other’s. In the same way that humans have learned to read canine body language, dogs can read human body language. Our movements, posture and even our glances tell our canine companions a lot about what we are thinking and feeling.

Have you ever glanced over at your dog’s leash? If your dog sees you look at his leash, what does he do? My dogs jump up and run to the door, ready to go on a walk. I used to think their reaction was based on the time of day, because we usually keep a pretty regular walk schedule. To rule that out, I looked at the leash random times and got the same reaction. Because I didn’t say the tell-tale “w” word, I knew they were not reacting to my verbal cue. And because it was at an unusual time, I knew they were not reacting to a specific time of day. No. They were reading my body language!

Social Cognition

Social cognition is a popular field of study, and research into a dog’s ability to pick up on human behavior signals is thriving. It’s long been understood that most social mammals are adept at reading cues from members of their same species, but the study of social cognition recognizes that dogs are amazingly good at reading human body language. A dog’s social cognition crosses species type.

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What You Need to Know About the New Strain of Dog Flu

122836f8-ca1b-4b74-8e5c-d389f5969895By Linda Cole

Canine influenza (dog flu) was first reported in the United States in 2004. A vaccine was developed and has been effective in helping to protect dogs from the virus. However, a new strain of dog flu has popped up in the Midwest. It’s creating a concern because it has been difficult to contain and there is no vaccine for this new strain. Even if you don’t live in the Midwest, knowing the symptoms of canine influenza helps to prevent the spread of this contagious disease by keeping your dog isolated from other canines. If you suspect your dog has the flu, call your vet before taking him in. Unlike human flu which tends to be more prominent during the colder months, dogs can catch canine flu any time of the year.

In 2004, Greyhounds in close contact with horses developed a mysterious respiratory illness. It was discovered to be equine influenza A H3N8 (horse flu) which had been around for over 40 years in the horse population. This was a case of a virus jumping from one species to another; it quickly adapted and spread among canines, especially dogs living in close quarters like shelters and boarding kennels.

The new strain of canine flu, H3N2, is an Avian flu virus that began infecting dogs in the Midwest in April of this year. It is different from the human H3N2 seasonal flu virus. It began circulating in the Chicago area before spreading into neighboring states. So far, cases have been reported in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. More than 1,000 dogs have been diagnosed and some have died.

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