The Wet Nose Press Pet Blog

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June 3, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

Understanding Dog Cognition

Image Credit – Pixabay.com/

Dogs are special creatures – they have the ability to guide blind people through crowded streets, herd sheep, fetch balls and even detect cancer. But do you know how their minds work? Read on to learn more.

Can dogs think?

The level of cognition in dogs is comparable to that of a three year old human being. They can tell when we are trying to point to an object. They can tell when their bowl has less food. They can respond to voices that they recognize and are very good at telling friend from foe. As a matter of fact, there a lot of people who believe that dogs train their owners into feeding them at the right time.

There is no denying that there is a lot of thought going on in their heads. They can make associations and respond to stimuli. However, their exact thinking mechanism is still shrouded in mystery. Just like it is not possible for us to read the thought of another human being, it is not possible for us to exactly speculate what a dog is thinking.

What does the brain of a dog look like?

The brain structures of mammals are very similar. The lobes, hemispheres and other brain parts have similar names and functions. However, in dogs, the part of their brain that deals with smell show that they have highly sensitive noses, more than those of ferrets and cats.
Dogs use a larger portion of their brain for analyzing smells. Their brains associate smells with their corresponding memories. This is the reason they are used to sniff for drugs and bombs.

How are their brains different from human brains?

Apart from their structural similarity, fMRI studies have demonstrated that the same brain sections light up when we are exposed to different stimuli. Men process memories, fear and spatial awareness the same way dogs do. Some of their cognitive skills are also clumped together, just like the brains of humans.

That is true of dogs too. Some of their skillsets come in a package. If your dog is accurate and fast with one task, he has the capacity to be accurate and fast with another. This means that the hereditary component of cognition and intelligence is something dogs share with humans.

Some of the older dogs develop a medical condition that has a lot in common with Alzheimer’s disease. Since their brains are similar to ours, dogs have routinely been used to test the impact of drugs and nutrition on the aging process of the brain.

However, we are not exactly similar. Compared to our brains, the brains of dogs are smaller relative to the size of their body. There are more folds in our brain and hence more surface area. Our prefrontal cortex is also more developed than that of a dog. However, research papers and MRIs can only tell us so much. Until dogs find a way to communicate with us in a way we understand, there is a lot we will never know.

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June 2, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

The Basics of Dog Agility

Image Credit – Wikimedia.org/

Some dogs are more active than others. If your dog wants to keep going even after a good bout of exercise, you should consider getting him involved in more sports activities. Look for a dog park that has a good obstacle course and if your dog is able to negotiate the obstacles with ease, you have an agile dog on your hands.

Agility is a legitimate canine sport that puts your dog through obstacles and jumps at a very rapid pace. A handler will run with the dog after taking it off its leash, giving commands and guiding your dog to the next obstacle. The best part about the sport is that almost any dog can take part in it, irrespective of weight, size, breed, height or age.

Get started

Age is no barrier if you want your dog to learn agility. But, before you undertake a new activity, check with the vet to ensure that there are no underlying medical conditions your dog has. If your dog is still young, you might have to wait till he becomes a bit more mature and healthy till he is ready to handle all the jumping and running demanded by agility sports.

If you really want to start early, you can start when he is one year old. By the time he is ready to compete, he will be fit, agile and energetic. You should also incorporate obedience training as part of the regimen. He should be able to respond to obedience commands before he can get into group training and competitions. This is absolutely necessary since your dog will be off his leash and he needs to have an amicable temperament towards the other dogs and people.

Agility training begins with smaller and simpler versions of the obstacle courses that your dog will be expected to negotiate when he is ready to compete. He will be trained to navigate hoops, the A-frame and tunnels. The weave poles and the see-saw are some of the most challenging obstacles on the course. As the training progresses and your dog begins to excel, the obstacles will be intensified to meet the challenges.

Always remember to reward your dog for performing well. Praise, treats and special objects are excellent motivators and will egg your dog to perform better. From the point of view of the dog, one of the greatest pleasures in competition and training is the attention and positive response that he receives from the human he has the closer bond with.

If you want to know more about agility routines, contact an agility club in your locality and attend a competitive event to find out more about the sport. The handlers will advise you on the most appropriate routine for your dog.

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June 1, 2016
by Lynn Merton
2 Comments

Can Air Fresheners Affect the Health of Your Pet?

Image Credit – Pixabay.com/

As caregivers and parents, we are used to baby-proofing our houses to make sure that our babies are safe from dangerous situations and toxic substances. As a pet owner, you need to do the same. But unlike children, you need to do it throughout the life of your pets.

Some of what we do to improve our living environments, like using air fresheners can pose severe dangers to our feathered, furry and scaled friends. So, does this mean that you need to throw away your plug-ins, room sprays, oils, candles and solids? It is not really easy to answer that question. But you can learn to play it safe with a little care.

Why is it harmful?

Most of the air fresheners, whether furniture and room sprays, solids and even scented candles can be poisonous to humans. Animals are in even greater danger as there is a good chance of them ingesting the substance accidentally. You need to be especially careful with volatile organic compounds.

They have a very high vapor pressure because of their low boiling point. This causes them to evaporate into the air. Of course, air fresheners are meant to be volatile and dissipate into the air. This property is also shared by varnishes and paints, benzene, fossil fuels, formaldehyde, aerosol propulsion, refrigerants, cigarette smoke and the chemicals used in dry cleaning.

You do not usually think of opening a paint can to improve the smell in your living room, but that is not far from what happens when you break out a can of air freshener.

They can lead to a host of maladies, like cancer and asthma and can end up affecting the brain, blood, liver, heart, skin, kidneys and the nervous and respiratory system of both pet owners and their pets.

The air freshener industry has latched on to the term “essential oils” of late. However, these products are not completely safe either. Essential oils are volatile and while most of these substances are made from flowers, berries, bark, woods and seeds, they can still be very toxic to both pet owners and pets. Essential oils can be really toxic to cats. If you have essential oils in your home, make sure that they are in a location where the cat cannot come into direct contact with them.

Symptoms of excess use

The harmful effects of air fresheners can range from the immediate to a few days or hours after use. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Sneeze
  • Production of nasal discharge
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

Make sure that you use the recommended amounts and keep your pets away from the room when you are spraying them. If the symptoms get severe, take your pet to the vet immediately.

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May 31, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

Preventative Care Measures to Save Money on Veterinarian Bills

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With the downfall of the economy and the disappearance of jobs, pet owners are beginning to forego healthcare since they cannot afford the costly vet bills. While a yearly examination is absolutely essential, you can do away with a lot of the unnecessary procedures and tests by making sure that your pet is healthy throughout the year. Not only will it save you a lot of money, it will also extend the health and longevity of your pet.

  • Invest in good quality food – Choosing a high quality pet food is the best way to ensure the long term health of your pet. It will eliminate most of the problems like gastrointestinal troubles, allergies, diabetes, obesity and other food related ailments. Yes, you will be spending a bit more time selecting the food, but at the end of the day, it will save you hundreds of dollars.
  • Avoid obesity – Obese pets suffer from a number of costly conditions like high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes and kidney problems. You need to make sure that you feed the correct portion to your pet if you want to curb excess weight gain and keep them away from the veterinarian.
  • Avoid risky treats – A lot of the treats tend to get lodged in the esophagus, intestines, stomach or trachea of pets. Make sure you avoid treats like pig’s feet, rawhide chews and other chews that are hard and do not dissolve properly.
  • Brush their teeth – Pets tend to suffer from a lot of dental problems and owners should brush their pets’ teeth daily if they want to avoid a costly trip to the vet in the future. Use a soft toothbrush with good quality pet toothpaste. Gum and tooth disease can lead to infection, loss of teeth, pain and organ damage.
  • Eye and ear care – Keeping the eyes of your pet clean will contribute to their wellness and health by preventing infection and irritation, which can be painful and cause loss of vision. Careful inspection and diligent cleaning once a week will open up the clogged ducts and prevent infections. It is also a good idea to clean their ears once a week with natural ear wash.
  • Flea control – Fleas are an expensive problem. They cause itching and acute moist dermatitis. Your pets can also get infected with intestinal tapeworms. There are a number of topical flea products that are excellent at ridding your pet of fleas. If you want a more natural approach, use an herbal dip containing citronella and other essential oils that aid in flea control.
  • Exercise – Pets enjoy the same health benefits as people from regular exercise. You can try exercising with our pet. It will be a fun activity for both of you.
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May 30, 2016
by Lynn Merton
1 Comment

How to Manage Roughhousing Behavior in Dogs

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Dogs love roughhousing, whether it is by biting, nipping or lunging. If you engage in roughplay with your pet sometimes, and forbid him from the same during other times, then you will leave him confused. If your pet notices any cues that are similar to when you’re roughhousing, he’ll probably respond by playing rough; even if that is not what you intended to do. The bigger problem is if your pet responds the same way when he picks up similar cues from strangers or acquaintances. We take a look at how you can manage your pet’s roughhousing problem.

How to get roughhousing under control

If your puppy shows biting or nipping behavior, try to redirect his attention to chewable toys. Your pet may usually try to nip or bite you when you’re petting her. Make sure you have a toy at hand so she bites it instead, while you pet her. If your pet does take a nip out of nowhere, you want to discourage the behavior instantly. Obedience training is a necessary part of raising your pet right. Look at her and respond with a loud ‘ow’ or ‘ouch’, and then do not give her any attention for a while. This way she knows that a bite or nip is not acceptable behavior, and it could mean end of play time. You can get your puppy to stop lunging at people or pets, using the same technique. You do not want to use your hands to move your pet away, as he she will just assume that you are playing with her. Of course, if you have children playing with pets, it gets a lot more difficult to train your pet the same way. You can either train your pet so she does not engage in roughhousing, or tell your kids how to react to such situations. Once your pet exhibits the desired behavior, reward her with treats.

When should roughhousing be allowed?

Roughhousing is not always a bad thing, in fact it is necessary in some cases. For instance, if your dog is being trained to work with the law enforcement wing, then your dog will have to develop rough play instincts and drives. Of course, you want to train your dog so he does that only when you give him the cue, and stops when asked to. Make sure you keep your dog’s excitement levels in check, so he doesn’t go overboard. You can take breaks from time to time to make sure your dog’s rough house play is under control.