If you’ve ever wished your dog could talk, you may get your wish sooner than you think.
Scandinavian scientists are developing a headset that could allow for your dog to voice his opinion.
"No More Woof" explains on their website that the device is being introduced by the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery (NSID).
They hope to be able to put together a device that will allow dogs to tell us when they’re hungry and when they want to go out. They are even hoping to advance to two-way communication, what they call their “holy grail.”
The technology uses EEG signals from the dog’s brain and translates them into human language through a speaker (English is the only one that is currently available).
The website explains: For instance, there is a spectrum of specific electrical signals in the brain defining the feeling of tiredness ("I'm tired!"). Some of the most easily detected neural patterns are: "I'm hungry, "I'm tired," "I'm curious who that is?" and "I want to pee." (It is worth pointing out that dogs "think" in a different way than humans. Whereas the dog's brain signals might indicate hunger, that does of course not really mean the dog is "thinking" that, it's rather more a mental state than a "thought," although the difference between these two things is actually an interesting philosophical question, for those who are into these things.)
The one hangup is how to best fit the EEG monitor to the dog’s fur for maximum results and comfort for the dog.
Currently, the company is offering prototypes that will help fund the research, starting as low as $65, which detect 2-3 thought patterns. Prototypes go up to $1,200 per unit, which are created to blend with your dog’s fur and come with a golden engraved dog tag.
“Right now we are only scraping the surface of possibilities; the project is only in its cradle. And to be completely honest, the first version will be quite rudimentary. But hey, the first computer was pretty crappy too,” reads the website.
Personally, I think I’ll just continue to read my dog’s body language and allow him to speak his own “woof.”
By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
The German Pinscher is a medium-sized, short-coated dog. An excellent watchdog and companion, it combines elegance and strength with endurance and agility.
Having gained status as a watchdog and loyal companion of ideal size, the German Pinscher is a popular pet. This medium-sized dog has a muscular, square build and is generally fawn or black and blue in color. Its lightness makes it very agile, though it derives its strength from its solid body type. The dog’s sensitive senses allow it to hunt throughout the day. Once it finds a rodent, it can easily catch and kill it. When it is suspicious about a stranger, it will bark until the person withdraws.
Personality and Temperament
The German Pinscher is affectionate, playful, and good with children. However, it is suspicious of strangers and may not be suitable for homes with small pets, particularly rodents.
The tenacious, courageous, and lively German Pinscher looks after its master’s property, regardless if it has been trained to do so. Its tendency to bark is not meant as a nusiance, but a warning to housemates of oncoming intruders. And although it is a quick learner, it will only obey under its own volition.
The grooming requirements for the German Pinscher is fairly simple: the occasional brushing and wash. German Pinschers love to be involved in family activities and hate to be left in the kennel or alone. They are very dedicated to their family, their devotion going to the extent of supervising housework, providing entertainment in the evenings, guiding gardening, and sharing their master’s bed.
As the dog is full of energy it should be given good mental and physical exercises or it can get bored and frustrated.
The German Pinscher, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, is not troubled with any major or minor health problems. However, hip and eye tests are suggested for this breed of dog.
History and Background
The German Pinscher, one of the reputed Pinscher breeds, originated from two older breeds: the German Bibarhund (from the 1200s) and the Tanner (from the 1300s). These strains were crossed with Black and Tan Terriers in the 1600s to produce the Rattenfanger, a good watchdog and versatile working ratter. This dog then became the Pinscher, remaining a hard-working breed for many centuries and held in high regard for its ability to catch rodents.
The late 1800s saw the advent of dog shows and the growing popularity of the Pinscher. In 1884, the breed standard for the Pinscher was chosen for the first time. The breed did gain popularity from dog lovers initially, causing their numbers to quickly diminish. The World Wars also hindered efforts to register, count, and exhibit Pinschers.
By the end of World War II the breed was nearly extinct, not a single Pinscher litter registered in West Germany between 1949 and 1958.
In order to survive, the Pinscher had to depend on the Miniature Pinscher, its descendent. In 1958, the Pinscher-Schnauzer Klub of West Germany chose and registered four oversized Miniature Pinschers. Three separate "MinPin" males were bred with a Pinscher female that was secretly smuggled from a place in East Germany, where Pinschers could still be found. Nearly all present-day German Pinschers are descended from these dogs.
In the late 1970s, German Pinschers were introduced to United States. The American Kennel Club first placed the breed in the Miscellaneous class in 2001; two years later the German Pinscher was placed in the Working Group.
Have you ever felt that your cat or dog can see something you don’t? Well, you may be right, according to a new study.
Cats, dogs, and other mammals are thought to see in ultraviolet light, which opens up a whole different world than the one we see, the study explains.
Seeing the World in Ultraviolet Light
UV light is the wave length beyond the visible light from red to violet that humans can see. Humans have a lens that blocks UV from reaching the retina. It was previously thought that most mammals have lenses similar to humans.
Scientists studied the lenses of dead mammals, including cats, dogs, monkeys, pandas, hedgehogs, and ferrets. By researching how much light passes through the lens to reach the retina, they concluded that some mammals previously thought not to be able to see UV actually can.
"Nobody ever thought these animals could see in ultraviolet, but in fact, they do," Ron Douglas, the study leader and a biologist at City University London, England, told LiveScience.
What purpose does being able to see UV light serve for animals such as reindeer, rodents, and other mammals? It allows reindeer to see polar bears, for example, which would be invisible in regular light because they blend in with the snow.
UV light also allows mammals to see urine trails. This would be helpful for prey animals, such as cats and dogs, to find food in the wild.
Dog Breeds Most Prone to Cancer
While cancer can unfortunately strike any breed of dog at any age, there are certain breeds that have higher instances of the disease. We’ve asked the experts to share breeds with higher rates of cancer, what types of cancer seem to be the most prevalent among these breeds, and dogs in general, and how to detect any health changes in your pet.
A large, powerful dog known for its strength and skills as a guardian, Rottweilers are descendants from Roman military dogs and were developed in Germany. They are among the breeds of dog with high cancer rates, according to Jennifer Coates, DVM in Fort Collins, Colorado and veterinary advisor to petMD.com. The breed requires lots of physical and mental exercise daily, such as a long walk or an energetic game in an enclosed area. With a lifespan between 8 and 11 years, Rottweilers are prone to major health problems, including canine hip dysplasia, osteosarcoma (or bone cancer), elbow dysplasia and gastric torsion.
According to Coates, common forms of canine cancer include lymphoma, mast cell tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, osteosarcoma, transitional cell carcinomas (or bladder cancer) and hemangiosarcomas (or cancer of the blood vessels).
Bernese Mountain Dog
With a long, silky coat and calm, confident nature, Bernese Mountain Dogs also have high cancer rates, according to Coates. An easygoing family companion, the breed requires moderate daily exercise. With an average lifespan between 6 and 9 years, serious health conditions affecting the Bernese Mountain Dog include canine hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, gastric torsion and mast cell tumors. Care must also be taken to prevent heat stroke in the breed.
While we don’t know why certain cancers are common among breeds, Coates said some environmental factors may be important. “For example, exposure to chemicals applied to lawns is associated with an increase risk of bladder cancer in Scottish Terriers,” she explained. “An element of bad luck is also involved.”
Bouvier des Flandres
An agile, bold breed known for being a fearless and efficient farm dog, Coates lists Bouvier des Flandres among breeds with higher rates of cancer. Well-behaved and confident, Bouvier des Flandres are generally obedient and get along well with children. With an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, they are prone to health conditions, including elbow dysplasia, canine hip dysplasia, sub-aortic stenosis (a heart disease) and glaucoma.
Intelligent and versatile, German Shepherds were originally developed in Germany to guard and herd flocks of sheep but are used today in a variety of capacities, from police dog to companion animal. According to Denise Petryk, DVM and director of veterinary services at Trupanion pet insurance, this breed is among those with high rates of cancer. German Shepherds require frequent training sessions to keep their minds and bodies active and have an average lifespan between 10 and 12 years. Petryk explained that many things may cause canine cancer, including genetics.
“Cancer unfortunately is caused by many factors and many things we do not understand,” she shared. “Genetics are definitely thought to play a role in susceptibility and the incidence of cancers.”
Known for its graceful appearance, large size and hunting skills, Great Danes make well-mannered family companions but are also among those breeds with higher rates of cancer, according to Petryk. With an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years, Great Danes may suffer from health conditions, including osteosarcoma, cardiomyopathy and gastric torsion. Some health concerns are more prone in certain Great Dane color varieties and the breed in general has a tendency to drool.
A loyal and friendly companion, Labrador Retrievers make excellent family pets, hunting dogs and service animals. They do, however, have higher rates of cancer, according to Petryk. The breed also has a tendency to retain weight if it is sedentary too often, so it’s important to keep them fit and active throughout their lives. With a lifespan of 10 to 12 years, general health conditions that impact the breed include canine elbow, shoulder and hip dysplasia and osteochondritis dissecans.
A small breed with a playful nature and happy-go-lucky attitude, the Bichon Frise also has a high rate of cancer, according to Petryk. Friendly towards other dogs, pets and strangers, the Bichon Frise is also known for being good with children. With a lifespan between 12 and 15 years, this breed is prone to health problems, including allergies, patellar luxation and liver disease.
It is thought that spaying or neutering your dog may also play a role in preventing cancer. “There is new statistical evidence that early spay or neuter before one year of age might influence the incidence of certain cancers,” Petryk said.
With a curious and outgoing personality, Boxers make excellent companions for an active family. However, both Petryk and Coates list the Boxer among breeds with high cancer rates. They require plenty of daily physical and mental exercise and, with a lifespan between 8 and 10 years, are prone to hip dysplasia, Boxer cardiomyopathy and sometimes brain tumors.
To help detect signs of cancer or changes in your dog’s health, Petryk recommends looking for a variety of symptoms. Physically, you’ll want to look for any new lumps or bumps on the skin or changes in their hair coat. Petryk also suggests looking for changes in your dog’s appetite, water consumption, weight loss or changes in behavioral patterns like spending more time alone or sleeping in odd places or a sudden slowing down.
Coates recommends looking for slight changes in your dogs and, if they notice anything unusual, taking your dog to see a veterinarian right away.
“Owners should be on the lookout for what may at fist appear to be subtle changes in their dogs. An enlarged abdomen, coughing, difficulty breathing, limping, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in urinary habits and skin lesions that don’t health normally can all be signs of cancer,” Coates said.
Affectionate, obedient and loyal, Golden Retrievers make ideal family pets that love human companionship. According to both Coates and Petryk, the breed is among those with high cancer rates. With a lifespan between 10 and 13 years, health concerns that can affect Golden Retrievers include lymphoma, canine hip dysplasia and skin problems. To identify these conditions, your veterinarian may recommend heart, hip, thyroid or elbow tests during routine checkups. Coates also recommends taking your dog to see a veterinarian for a thorough physical exam at least once, if not twice, a year.
How to Add Years to Your Pet's Life
Anyone who has ever had a dog or cat wishes just one thing — that he or she has a healthy and long life. Here are five tips that can help your pet do just that.
1. Feed a high quality diet.
Pets fed a high quality diet have a shiny hair coat, healthy skin, and bright eyes. A good diet can help strengthen your pet’s immune system, help maintain his or her intestinal health, help increase his or her mental acuity, help keep joints and muscles healthy, and much more.
2. Keep your pet lean.
Pets that are overweight are at risk for a myriad of health issues. Obesity is the number one nutritional disease seen in pets currently and studies have shown that being overweight or obese can shorten a dog or cat’s life span by as much as two years. Why? Being overweight or obese puts your pet at risk for joint disease, heart disease and diabetes, among other things.
3. Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly.
All pets, including both dogs and cats, require regular veterinary care. However, veterinary care goes far beyond routine vaccinations, even though those are important. A routine examination by your veterinarian can uncover health issues of which you are unaware. In many cases, an early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment. Early diagnosis is also likely to be less costly for you than waiting until your pet’s illness has become advanced and serious before attempting treatment.
4. Keep your pet’s mouth clean.
A common problem among dogs and cats, dental disease and oral health issues can cause your pet pain, making it difficult for him or her to eat. If left untreated, oral health issues may even lead to heart and kidney disease. In addition to regular dental checkups, the most effective means of caring for your pet’s mouth at home is to brush his or her teeth at home. If your pet isn’t a big fan of toothbrushes there are other alternatives as well, including dental diets, treats, and toys. Ask your veterinarian for some recommendations.
5. Do not allow your pet to roam unsupervised.
Allowing your dog or cat to roam free may seem like you’re doing your pet a favor. However, pets that roam are susceptible to a number of dangers, including automobile accidents, predation, exposure to contagious diseases, exposure to poisons, and more. Additionally, allowing your pet to roam unsupervised may alienate your neighbors should your pet ever "relieve" him- or herself in their lawn or dig up their garden.
Following these tips can go a long ways towards providing a long, healthy and happy life for your pet.
Sogeval has issued a voluntary recall due to the incorrect labeling of a lot of Synovial Flex Soft Chews.
The following products have been included in the recall:
"Synovial-Flex TRP soft chews," according to the Sogeval website, "are recommended to support healthy joint function in dogs."
If you have purchased Synovial Flex Soft Chews involved in the recall, please contact Sogeval at 1-800-877-0177
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has recently released new weight management guidelines for dogs and cats. It is written with an audience of veterinarians in mind, but is also valuable reading for owners, particularly if you are finding it difficult to help your dog or cat get down to a healthy weight or can’t understand why your veterinarian keeps harping on the topic.
The document starts by discussing the severity of the problem…
Up to 59% of dogs and cats are overweight, making this the most common nutritional disorder identified in veterinary practice. Excess weight can reduce longevity and adversely affect quality of life. The hormones and inflammatory cytokines released by excess adipose tissue lead to a state of chronic inflammation, the impact of which is not completely understood at this time. Excess weight is associated with skin and respiratory disorders, renal [kidney] dysfunction, and it increases the risk of metabolic and endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes), orthopedic disease, and some types of cancer.
… and then goes on to discuss the best way to help pets lose weight.
An effective individualized weight loss program provides a consistent and healthy rate of weight loss to reduce risk of disease, prevent malnutrition, and improve quality of life. Weight loss is achieved with appropriate caloric restriction, diet selection, exercise, and strategies to help modify the behavior of both the pet and client. The success of any program depends on partnering with clients to set expectations, promote client compliance and treatment adherence (compliance and adherence describe the degree to which the client correctly implements medical advice and continues an agreed-on mode of treatment), and overcome challenges presented by each pet.
I won’t go over all the details here since they are laid out so well in the guidelines themselves, but I do want to bring an especially valuable resource contained within to your attention. Table three goes over common problems that complicate weight loss in pets and outlines possible solutions. For example, it is important to remember that begging is a behavior that is not related to nutritional needs or even necessarily to hunger. The guidelines recommend the following solutions to begging:
The AAHA Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats may not be the most riveting document you’ll ever read, but if it helps you get your pet down to a healthy weight, it is well worth your time.
Two brands of chicken jerky pet treats will soon reenter the market after years of reports of pet illness—even death—associated with consumption of jerky treats made with chicken sourced from China.
Milo’s Kitchen and Nestlé Purina (the maker of Waggin’ Train treats) say that since the voluntary recall of their jerky treats last year due to antibiotic residue, they have reevaluated, revamped, reformulated and even discontinued certain products mired in suspicion and a nearly decade-old U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation. Now manufacturers are staking their name on the belief that they finally have it right.
Waggin’ Train products—including Chicken Jerky Tenders, Smoky Jerky Snacks and Jerky Duos—were back on shelves in February. Milo’s Kitchen will reintroduce its Chicken Grillers and Chicken Jerky Recipe treats in March, along with a new product, Burger Bites. A standout difference between the two relaunches? Nestlé Purina has decided to continue manufacturing Chicken Jerky Tenders in China.
Bill Salzman, director of corporate communications for Nestlé Purina, says the company now uses a single chicken supplier and a single manufacturer in China that’s part of a U.S.-based company. He says the reason Nestlé Purina continues to source its chicken from China for the jerky product is simple: “In China, dark meat chicken is preferred for human food production, so the quality white meat chicken is more readily available to us in the quantities we need to make our jerky dog treats.” Waggin’ Train’s Smoky Jerky Snacks and Jerky Duos, however, will be made in the United States with chicken sourced exclusively from a single U.S. supplier.
“We’ve made significant enhancements from start to finish to ensure the quality and safety of all of our Waggin’ Train treats,” Salzman says. He says sourcing meat from a single supplier was essential: “Sourcing exclusively from a single chicken supplier means greater control over all aspects of the chicken supply, including how the chickens are fed, raised and processed.” He adds that Nestlé Purina will also have its own quality inspectors at the Chinese manufacturing plant to oversee the production process.
For Milo’s Kitchen, sourcing its chicken from China was no longer an option. “We’re not bringing the products with ingredients sourced from China back,” says Geoff Tanner, vice president of pet snacks for Milo’s Kitchen. Instead, the company decided to reformulate the products and source 100 percent of its meat from the United States, exiting China completely. “The brand Milo’s Kitchen is a brand that’s grounded in a philosophy that the dog is an equal member of the family and deserves ingredients that are as good as our own food.”
Tanner says Milo’s Kitchen looked to its customers to guide its decisions on how to reformulate and reintroduce the products. “We went to our consumers and we asked them what would they want from a food or a treat to live up to [our] philosophy,” he says. Results from focus groups and quantitative studies told the company that customers wanted real beef or chicken as the No. 1 ingredient, ingredients 100 percent sourced from the United States, and no artificial flavors or colors, Tanner says.
Waggin’ Train treats also offer chicken as the No. 1 ingredient and no artificial colors or flavors. Packaging touts no artificial preservatives. Salzman says he is confident Waggin’ Train now has the highest-quality food safety program in the industry. “Our treats are quality-checked at each step and quality-monitored under a comprehensive food safety program designed to prevent potential quality issues before they can occur,” he says. Purina has increased its product testing to include surveillance for Salmonella, melamine and antibiotics. “We have a rigorous evaluation and sampling program for all raw materials used in our products and have quality assurance specialists at each producing facility who are trained to sample or analyze incoming ingredients,” Salzman says.
Consumers will also notice that for the first time Purina will lend its logo to Waggin’ Train packaging. “We’ve added the Purina logo to every package as a sign of our confidence in the quality and safety of our treats,” Salzman says. Where the meat is sourced will also be available on the back label of Waggin’ Train products.
Serving size recommendations will also be included on packaging. “We remind pet owners that treats are treats and should be fed according to a dog’s weight, using the treating guidelines on each package,” Salzman says. “We recommend that caloric intake from treats not exceed 10 percent of a dog’s total daily caloric requirements.” In fact, Waggin’ Train states on the front of its packaging that treats are intended for adult dogs five pounds and over.
Feeding guidelines are also on Milo’s Kitchen treat packaging. Its guidelines do not exclude puppies or small dogs but recommend that treats make up no more than 15 percent of a dog’s caloric intake and strongly advise against exceeding the guidelines. “Your dog’s veterinarian can also provide guidance on how many calories your dog may consume daily,” the Milo’s Kitchen website states.
However, many veterinarians, including C. A. Tony Buffington, DVM, MS, PhD, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and professor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says he would not feed his dog the revamped jerky treats—or any “snacks” between meals, as he calls them. In general, he believes these snacks are unnecessary. “I am a huge fan of treats, which are things that bring pets joy. I am not a fan of snacks because it risks weight gain and teaches pets to beg,” Buffington says. He advises veterinarians to counsel clients not to feed pets snacks of any kind.
et Salzman says the “real meat” segment of the U.S. pet treats category continues to grow and that chicken jerky dog treats are enjoyed by millions of dogs every year. “Chicken jerky treats are very popular with dog owners because they’re high-quality treats made with real meat and simple ingredients,” Salzman says.
The ingredient list for Waggin’ Train’s Chicken Jerky Tenders includes chicken breast—sourced from China—and vegetable glycerin. Milo’s Kitchen’s Chicken Jerky Strips ingredient list isn’t quite that simple but is domestically sourced (see ingredient list at the end of this story).
Both products contain glycerin, an ingredient some have pointed to as a potential culprit in jerky-related illness. Glycerin can be made two ways, from natural oils and fats or as a byproduct of biodiesel manufacturing. It has been alleged that some Chinese manufacturers may have used the abundant and potentially toxic biodiesel glycerin instead of the higher-grade glycerin consumers expect. Salzman says Waggin’ Train sources its glycerin from a supplier in Malaysia. Milo’s Kitchen glycerin is sourced here in the United States. Both are pharmaceutical-grade products approved for use in human foods.
However, many consumers—and dogs, for that matter—aren’t thinking about glycerin when they buy (or eat) treats. For Milo’s Kitchen the revamp didn’t just improve ingredient quality but palatability as well. “The product was reformulated to be a little moister instead of the hard jerky product we originally had,” Tanner says. “You can tear this product. It’s much softer and consumers said they preferred it.”
Despite the ongoing FDA investigation, neither company seems worried about demand for its products. Both say the relaunch of jerky treats was consumer-driven. “We’ve heard from thousands of consumers who want Waggin’ Train chicken jerky dog treats for their dogs,” Salzman says. “We’ve worked very hard over the past year to strengthen our already strict quality control measures to ensure Waggin’ Train treats meet Purina’s high standards.”
Tanner believes no longer sourcing meat from China brings the entire Milo’s Kitchen treat portfolio in line with company philosophy and with what customers expect from the brand. “I feel really good that we’re responding to our consumers on what they asked. That’s what a good company does,” Tanner says. “It’s a different approach than Nestlé. We decided to bring it all back. I know we’re doing the right thing here.”
Still, the FDA and the American Veterinary Medical Association are asking veterinarians to continue to be aware of jerky-related illness and to send patient samples for testing when it is suspected. To see the FDA’s “Dear Veterinarian” letter explaining how clinicians can assist in the investigation, go to fda.gov. The agency also provides a fact sheet explaining jerky-related illness to pet owners, including signs to look out for if pets are fed jerky treats.
Waggin’ Train ingredients
Chicken Jerky Tenders: chicken breast, vegetable glycerin
Smoky Jerky Snacks: chicken, brown sugar, salt, glycerin, natural smoke flavor, mixed-tocopherols (a preservative)
Jerky Duos: chicken, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, salt, glycerin, natural smoke flavor, mixed-tocopherols (a preservative)
Milo’s Kitchen ingredients
Chicken Jerky Strips: Chicken, soy flour, sugar, glycerin, textured soy protein, salt, guar gum, sodium tripolyphosphate, monoglyceride, garlic powder, sorbic acid, citric acid, BHA (used as a preservative), natural smoke flavor, annatto color, onion extract.
Chicken Grillers: chicken breast, rice flour, glycerin, gelatin, soy flour, wheat gluten, modified tapioca starch, sugar, soy protein concentrate, salt, monoglyceride, sodium tripolyphosphate, potassium sorbate (used as a preservative), citric acid, caramel color, garlic powder, natural smoke flavor, BHA (used as a preservative), dried egg white.
Average preventative dental cleaning is $170 compared to average treatment for dental disease is $221, says veterinary insurance company.
A survey of Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) policyholders representing 500,000 pets found that these pet owners spent more than $11.2 million on dental conditions and procedures in 2013. Probably no surprise to veterinarians, as oral health problems constituted the fourth-most-common claim submitted last year. However, it may benefit pet owners and their pets to know that it makes better economic sense to get regular dental cleanings than to have to pay for treating dental-related disease.
VPI says the average claim for pet teeth cleaning in 2013 was $170. In contrast, the average claim amount for treating dental-related disease was $221. Periodontal disease accounted for the most dental claims received last year by VPI—more than 25,000. Tooth infections, inclusive of cavities and abscesses, accounted for the second most common dental-related claims, totaling more than 10,600.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of 3. And policyholder stats show the amount spent on pet dental conditions has steadily risen from $7.2 million in 2009 to $11.2 million last year.
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