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Pet Body Language You Might Be Misreading

According to AARP magazine, there may be some dog and cat behaviors that we may be misreading. You may think you know what that tail wag or cuddle means, but do you? We asked a few experts for guidance.

Dog smiling

Dogs smiling
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What you think it means: All is well.

What it really means: That grinning look is not the same for dogs as for humans. “Generally speaking, tension in the mouth is a sign of stress,” Case says. “If the dog is actually feeling happy, their mouth isn’t going to have tension to it. It might be open a little bit with what we call a soft face.”

Dog wagging tail

 
Dog wagging tail
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What you think it means: I’m happy.

What else it can mean: “People think just because the tail is wagging, all is well, but that’s not always the case,” says certified applied animal behaviorist Jill Goldman. A good tail wag is side to side or in circles. This often means that the dog is excited to see someone. But a wagging tail that is a “high mast, hooked all the way over,” Goldman says, can signal a heightened emotional state that isn’t necessarily social.

Cat rolling over

Cat rolling over
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What you think it means: Rub my belly.

What it really means: Not that. “Most cats do not love belly rubs,” says feline behaviorist Marci L. Koski. “That’s where the Venus cat trap comes into play. You put your hand on the belly and then, whoo, there go the claws.”

Dog panting

Dog Panting
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What you think it means: I’m hot.

 

What else it can mean: “Panting can sometimes mean stress,” says Courtney Case, a trainer at the Granada Hills, California–based J9’s K9s Dog Training. “So if you’re sitting inside and your dog hears a noise and they start panting, it might mean that they’re a little bit stressed, and they’re just trying to get a little bit more oxygen into those lungs.”

Cat rubbing up against you

Cat rubbing up against you
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What you think it means: I like you.

What else it can mean: “It’s also as a way to leave their scent behind,” Koski says. “The most common way a cat will rub up against somebody is with their cheek. This deposits those facial pheromones that are often used in marking territory.”

Dog Barking

 
Dog Barking
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What you think it means: Someone is invading my space.

What else it can mean: “Barking can be, ‘Oh, I’m so excited to see you,’ ” Goldman says. “But it also can mean, ‘Keep your distance. I’m very territorial. Don’t come any closer.’ 

Dog rolling over

 
Dog rolling over
Getty Images

What you think it means: I’m feeling lazy.

What else it can mean: “If a dog is rolling over and exposing their belly to a person that they’re comfortable with, they’re probably asking for affection,” Case says. It could also be a sign of submission. “If a dog does that to a person they don’t know, I’m going to assume that dog is trying to show me, ‘Look how small I am. Please don’t hurt me.’  ”​


Turtles Talk to Each Other

Get this from Salon - A new study reveals that, in their own special way, turtles chat with each other!

"It was a great surprise to discover they not only vocalize but also do so very often, producing very funny sounds" Turtle

University of Zurich's Gabriel Jorgewich-Cohen is part of a team of international researchers who produced a landmark new study for the journal Nature Communications. Seeking to learn about the evolutionary origins of acoustic communication in vertebrates, the scientists recorded 53 species from four major clades — turtles, tuatara, caecilians and lungfish — to analyze what they heard. In the process, they learned that there are turtles, tuataras, and caecilians that engage in vocal communication, even though those clades had previously been perceived as non-vocal.

"When put in perspective, these findings show that vocal behavior is an evolutionary innovation that first appeared in the common ancestor of tetrapods (amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) and lungfish," Jorgewich-Cohen explained.

To be clear, this vocal behavior does not resemble anything as magnificent as a wolf howling or a bird tweeting. The Cayenne caecilian, in this journalist's opinion, produced sounds a bit like exaggerated yet strangely half-hearted armpit farts, while the mata mata turtle almost came across like a purring cat. Yet despite these seemingly alien vocalizations, the new study reveals that these creatures have much more in common with human beings than we had previously assumed. Rather than making these animals more exotic when compared to us, the new study discloses the extent to which we are part of the same family tree.


Dog Age Calculator

Happy birthday dogI tend to compute dog age into human age by multiplying the dog's age by seven. But according to Dr Leslie Brooks, an advisor at Betterpet, different breeds require different calculations.

Betterpet has developed a free online tool that is a dog age calculator that allows users to enter a dog's age and see it converted to human years. Even more, the tool provides insights like average life expectancy, weight, and height for over 100 dog breeds. 

Unfortunately, many pet owners don't always know how old their dog actually is and how they should be caring for their furry friend. If pet parents know their dog's exact stage of life, they can make better decisions about their diet, nutrition, exercise, and health. That’s why my team decided to make a resource like this free and accessible to the public. 

Key takeaways about a dog's age

  • The 7:1 ratio is flawed —As it turns out, figuring your dog’s age is more complex than multiplying by seven. That old rule of thumb that one dog year equals seven human years is based on the notion that dogs live about 10 years and humans live to about 70.
  • There isn’t a perfect formula — A dog age calculator is a great way to get a better idea of your dog’s age in human years, but parents of rescue dogs may not know their pet’s birth date. There are other ways to estimate if you don’t know your dog’s age.
  • Small dogs typically live longer than big dogs — Dogs under 40 pounds aren’t as prone to conditions such as hip dysplasia that can limit their mobility and increase their risk for obesity and other health conditions.

So enjoy every moment with your fur baby and celebrate!


Secret Pet Memorial Christmas Tree in Central Park

As reported in Untapped Cities, there is a secret Christmas tree for departed pets in New York's Central Park.

Central-park-2022-secret-pet-memorial-christmas-tree-robyn-untapped-new-york4-768x1024Deep within the woods of Central Park’s Ramble, those in the know gather every December at a secret spot to pay their respects to long-lost pets. Untapped New York first heard rumors of a pet memorial in Central Park in 2013. Since we first set out to find the secret Christmas tree years ago, the tradition has become more and more popular and media coverage has increased. Still, the exact location of the quiet spot remains a lovingly guarded secret, shared only with those who wish to honor their dearly departed furry friends.

The branches of the secret Christmas tree in Central Park are filled with handmade memorials dedicated to lost pets, be they a dog or cat, or other beloved creature. The occasional bauble or pet toy can be found among many laminated photos tied to the tree with festive ribbons and bows. The photos on the ornaments often feature the pet’s name and a message of appreciation for their companionship.

It’s unclear how long this tradition has been going on and who first started it. The earliest coverage we found was dated 2010. Each year, the mysterious caretakers carefully remove all of the ornaments and then bring them back next year. An Untapped New York Insider, who makes a pilgrimage to the tree every year to honor her family’s cats, found a thank you note from a pair of dog owners who left a photo of their pooch on the tree one year and were surprised to return the next year to see that their memorial had been saved and put up once again.

A visit to this Christmas tree pet memorial in Central Park is bittersweet. While it’s sad to think about losing a pet, it is touching to see the outpouring of love and appreciation pet owners share. We hope this special tradition continues for many years to come!


Dog Portraits from a Long Time Ago

I never realized how often pets, especially dogs, are included in old family photographs from the early days of photography. Examples seen here in the Washington Post, add new meaning to how families lived in the early 19th century.

Anthony Cavo, a collector of of photographs just published a book called Immortal Love which  reminds us of the amazing traits that dogs possess that have made them such an important part of our history. These photographs give us a glimpse not only into the special relationships these people might have had with their dogs but also into what life might have been like with them at the time. Dogs worked hard for them, sometimes saved them but, more important, provided them with companionship and unconditional love.

Dog 1910

 

 


Dogs cry tears of joy when reunited with their owners, study says

The human-dog relationship is unique among animals: having co-evolved for so long, most dog owners will attest to the uncanny ability that their canines have when it comes to reading and responding to emotions. But a new study suggests that the dog-human connection is so profound that our dogs actually cry for us, or with us. 

Takefumi Kikusui, PhD, DVM, a professor at Azabu University and corresponding author on the study, told Salon by email, a "dog's teary eyes can facilitate human caregiving behavior to dog —. and this enhances the bond." The study indicates that "dogs' emotions are expressed in a similar way to human emotions" and that this "helps humans understand canine emotions."

Renee Alsarraf, a veterinarian and author of "Sit, Stay, Heal: What Dogs Can Teach Us About Living Well," told Salon by email that the study is a "good start" in terms of illuminating the phenomenon that many veterinarians and pet parents suspected — that dogs can "cry."

Read the rest from Matthew Rozsa.


The Most Pet Friendly Cities

With National Homeless Animals Day approaching and over 90.5 million U.S. pet-owning households having spent $123.6 billion last year on their animal companions, the personal finance website WalletHub today released an in-depth report on 2022’s Most Pet-Friendly Cities, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary.

In order to determine where Americans’ animal companions can enjoy the best quality of life without breaking the bank, WalletHub compared the creature-friendliness of the 100 largest cities across 23 key metrics. The data set ranges from minimum pet-care provider rate per visit to pet businesses per capita to walkability.
 

Most Pet-Friendly Cities Least Pet-Friendly Cities
1. Scottsdale, AZ 91. Fresno, CA
2. Tampa, FL 92. Fremont, CA
3. Portland, OR 93. Chandler, AZ
4. St. Louis, MO 94. Chula Vista, CA
5. Cincinnati, OH 95. Detroit, MI
6. St. Petersburg, FL 96. Chicago, IL
7. Lexington-Fayette, KY 97. New York, NY
8. Las Vegas, NV 98. Honolulu, HI
9. Colorado Springs, CO 99. Baltimore, MD
10. Raleigh, NC 100. Santa Ana, CA

 
Key Stats

  • Columbus, Ohio, has the lowest average veterinary care costs (annual exam), $38.42, which is 2.5 times lower than in Plano, Texas, the city with the highest at $97.65. 
     
  • Miami has the most veterinarians (per square root of the population), 0.3446, which is 90.7 times more than in Newark, New Jersey, the city with the fewest at 0.0038.  
     
  • Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Indiana, have the lowest monthly dog-insurance premium, $39.75, which is 2.5 times lower than in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, the cities with the highest at $97.46.  
     
  • Reno, Nevada, has the most pet businesses (per square root of the population), 0.4791, which is 9.4 times more than in Newark, New Jersey, the city with the fewest at 0.0509.


To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit: 
https://wallethub.com/edu/most-pet-friendly-cities/5562




Dogs May Mourn the Loss of Other Household Pets

Smithsonian Magazine offers a fascinating article on how dogs grieve. It helps to remind us of the "humanity" in all beings. The big takeaway is that grieving canines ate less, slept more, and sought more attention from their human companions after the death of a furry friend, according to a survey.

According to a survey, researchers found nearly 90 percent of dogs that experienced the death of another canine companion living in the same house showed signs of grief. In the months following their buddy's death, dogs were less playful and more fearful. They also had reduced appetites and sought more attention from their owners, reports Clare Wilson for New Scientist.

Signs of mourning were stronger in dogs that had an amicable relationship and shared food with the deceased, reports the Guardian's Nicola Davis. The study was published last week in Scientific Reports.

"Dogs are highly emotional animals who develop very close bonds with the members of the familiar group. This means that they may be highly distressed if one of them dies, and efforts should be made to help them cope with this distress," says study author Federica Pirrone, an animal behavior expert at the University of Milan, told the Guardian.

Other animals that experience grief include dolphins, great apes, elephants, and birds. These species have been observed taking part in rituals around death and appear to mourn by touching and investigating the deceased individual's corpse, the researchers write in the study. For example, mother elephants will stand guard over their still-born baby for days. They will also hang their head and ears, moving slowly and quietly in a depressed-like manner.

Despite reports of owners observing their pets grieiving, it wasn't documented or studied in domesticated dogs until recently. For the study, researchers surveyed 426 adults who had at least two dogs and had experienced the loss of one of their dogs, per New Scientist. The study participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire about their surviving dog's behaviors and emotions after their companion's death, the Guardian reports. The participants were also asked about their own shifts in behavior and emotions.

About 86 percent of owners noted their surviving dogs had shown changes in their behavior after the death of a companion and the changes lasted between two to six months, reports Becky Ferreira for Vice. The living dogs were reported to play less, eat less, sleep more, and seek more attention from their owners. However, pets of owners who were affected by the pet's death more greatly were more badly affected by the event and suggest that they could be reacting to their human's behavior too, New Scientist reports.

 

"Dogs have become extremely sensitive to human communicative gestures and facial expressions," says Pirrone to New Scientist. "A caregiver and a dog develop an emotional connection."

While the dogs may behave this way because they have lost an attachment figure who provided safety and security, the team can still not tell if the canines were responding to the death or the loss of an affiliate, Pirrone explained to the Guardian. Because the research relies on self-reported data, the study may have some limitations influenced by how owners interpreted their dogs' behaviors, says social anthropologist Samantha Hurn from the University of Exeter, who was not involved with the study. 

Pirrone and her team cross-referenced the reports to counteract any inconsistencies in the data and used statistical analysis to see if owners were really witnessing their pets in a grief-like state, Vice reports. Pirrone tells the Guardian that the attachment levels between the owner and the dog did not appear to affect results, so the data was not skewed by their owners projecting grief onto their pets.

The team concludes that while the data suggests that pets experience grief, more research is needed to confirm grief and mourning behaviors in dogs further, Vice reports.