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Sunday, 24 October 2010

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Why dogs left home alone

become distressed

Many dogs become distressed when left home alone, and they show it by barking, destroying things, or toileting indoors. Now, a new study reported in the October 12th issue of Current Biology, suggests that this kind of separation anxiety occurs most often in dogs that also show "pessimistic"-like behaviour.

"We know that people's emotional states affect their judgements; happy people are more likely to judge an ambiguous situation positively," said Mike Mendl of the University of Bristol. "Now it seems that this may also apply to dogs; dogs that behaved anxiously when left alone also tended to judge ambiguous events negatively. Their anxious behaviour may reflect an underlying negative emotional state." The new findings also raise the possibility that some dogs may be more prone to responding anxiously when left alone than others, and that this is related to their general mood.

That's important because "separation-related behaviour is common in dogs, so predicting which dogs may develop this, and treating them appropriately, is very important for ensuring good dog welfare," Mendl said.

The researchers conducted the study with 24 dogs, both male and female, that had recently entered into one of two animal re-homing centres (shelters) in the United Kingdom. Each dog was first tested for separation anxiety-related behaviours.

A researcher interacted with each dog in an isolated room for 20 minutes. The following day, they took the dog back to the room and then left it alone for a period of five minutes while its behaviour was captured on video. In those five minutes, the researchers observed barking, jumping on furniture, scratching at the door, and repetitive behaviours to varying extents depending on the dog.

In order to study decision making in those same dogs, the researchers trained them to expect that when a bowl was placed at one location in a room (the "positive" position), it would contain food, but when placed at another location (the "negative" position), it would be empty.

They then placed the bowl in ambiguous locations in between the positive and negative positions.

Dogs that ran quickly to those ambiguous locations, as if expecting the positive food reward, were classed as making relatively "optimistic" decisions. Dogs that didn't approach the bowl as if they were expecting a food reward were judged to be "pessimistic."

An analysis of the two sets of behavioural data found that dogs that made more "pessimistic" judgements about whether they would find a food bowl empty or full also expressed more separation-related behaviours.

The results suggest that behaviour regarded as "problematic" for owners also has emotional significance for the animals concerned, even when the behaviour itself isn't being expressed, the researchers conclude. Mendl says the results also suggest that "optimistic" versus "pessimistic" decision making may be a valuable new indicator of animal emotion.

Dog owners should take note. "Some owners think that dogs showing anxious behaviours in response to separation are fine and do not seek treatment for their pets," Mendl says, noting that he and his colleagues have validated treatments for dealing with these types of behaviours in past work. "This study suggests that at least some dogs showing separation-related behaviours may have underlying negative emotional states, and owners are encouraged to seek treatment to enhance the welfare of their dogs."

Courtesy: ScienceDaily


When to worm your pet kitten

It is important to give worm treatment to your pet kittens but before doing so you must consult a veteranarian so that he could advise you on the type of tablet and the dosage to be given. Meanwhile here are some important facts to keep in mind about the best time or age they should be wormed.

Kittens between 6 to 16 weeks of age should be wormed every three weeks.From 4 months onward cats and kittens should be wormed every 3 months.

***

What are the symptoms that my cat or kitten has worms?

* Loss of appetite

* The cat's coat is in poor condition

* The cat has a pot belly appearance - especially in kittens

* The cat or kitten suffers weight loss

* Stunted growth of a kitten

* Diarrhoea (sometimes bloody diarrhoea)

* Vomiting or vomiting up a worm.

* Anemia - The cat or kitten has pale gums

* Worm segments around the anal area. These segments look like small grains of rice or sesame seeds.

* Continual licking of the anal area.

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