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“Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride, friendship without envy, or beauty without vanity? Here where grace is laced with muscle and strength by gentleness confined”
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Edited by VSP. - 06 Jun 2019 at 1:13pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jun 2019 at 12:45pm

How your mental health can affect your dog

By Bronwyn Orr

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If you think your dog looks stressed out, it might be your own stress levels that are affecting your pet pooch.

A study published on Thursday in Nature's Scientific Reports shows pet dogs may synchronise their stress levels with those of their owners.

More than just being man's best friend, it appears our pet dogs may be mirroring our mental state too, and that can be bad for their health.

It's all in the hair

Swedish researchers studied 58 dogs — 33 Shetland Sheepdogs and 25 Border Collies — as well as their owners. The dogs selected were balanced for sex, breed and activity level.

Both dog and owner personality was assessed through standardised personality questionnaires, with owners filling out the Dog Personality Questionnaire on behalf of their pet.

The researchers also measured the hormone cortisol in the hair of dogs and their owners over a year-long period.

Cortisol is a measure of physiological stress, which can be raised during mental distress. But it's also elevated for short periods such as during exercise and illness.

Cortisol found in hair is a good way of measuring long-term trends in stress levels, as hair grows slowly (about one centimetre per month) and absorbs circulating substances from the blood.

Impact on dogs

The results showed a significant correlation between human and dog cortisol levels across the year.

In 57 of the dogs in summer and 55 in winter, cortisol levels matched those of their owners. This means that for these dogs, their cortisol levels rose and fell in unison with their owner's.

This correlation was not influenced by dog activity levels or dog personality. It was, however, influenced by the personality of the dog's owner.

Owners with higher stress levels tended to have dogs with higher stress levels too.

Female dogs had a stronger connection with their owner's stress levels compared with male dogs. Previous studies have shown that female dogs (as well as rats and chimpanzees) are more emotionally responsive than males.

There's also evidence that increased oxytocin (the love and bonding hormone) in female dogs results in increased interactions with their owner, causing a corresponding increase in the owner's oxytocin levels. This effect wasn't seen in male dogs.

A limiting factor to the new study was that it did not identify any causes of elevated stress in the dog owners. But what it does show is that regardless of the cause of the stress, our reaction to it impacts our dogs.

Our relationship with dogs

Researchers have long discussed the concept of what is called the "human-dog dyad", a close bond between humans and dogs. This relationship, developed over 15,000 years, is unique in the animal world.

There is evidence to suggest dogs evolved alongside us and consequently are in tune with our emotions and bond with us through eye contact.

Although many aspects of this inter-species relationship are positive (particularly for us), it's likely there are some drawbacks to this close relationship with dogs.

Like many animals, we can share diseases with our dogs such as the superbug MRSA and Q Fever. What's more, dog bites are an issue of increasing importance to society.

We know that failing to providing basic care like food and shelter is cruel, but we often overlook how disregarding the mental lives of our pets can also negatively impact their welfare.

Helping our dogs cope

Dogs are sentient animals. This means they can experience both positive and negative emotions, such as pleasure, comfort, fear, and anxiety.

A poor mental state, where a dog is regularly experiencing negative emotions such as anxiety, can lead to poor animal welfare. If owners have an impact on the stress levels of their dogs, it means we also play a role in protecting their welfare.

The impact we have on our dog's stress levels goes both ways - positive and negative. If we reduce our own stress levels, it's likely we will also reduce our dog's stress levels.

We know chronic stress is bad for both humans and dogs, increasing the likelihood we will get sick as well as decreasing our quality of life.

If you don't work on decreasing your stress levels for your own sake, perhaps you will do it for your dog. There are great resources available for decreasing stress levels, and the good news is that some of them, such as getting out in nature, can be done with your dog right by your side.

Bronwyn Orr is a veterinarian and PhD student at the University of Sydney. This article originally appeared on The Conversation.



Edited by Gay3 - 07 Jun 2019 at 12:46pm
Experience is something you gain a few minutes after you could have used it!
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animals before people.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2019 at 9:02am

Gorilla Youngsters Seen Dismantling Poachers' Traps—A First

"Very confident" four-year-olds outsmart hunters and protect their clan.

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Experience is something you gain a few minutes after you could have used it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote acacia alba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jun 2019 at 12:19pm
The mystery of how and why the zebra acquired its stripes has puzzled scientists for centuries.

But now zoologists believe the alternating black and white markings act as an elaborate cooling system, creating a convection current of air which behaves like a natural fan, helping to evaporate sweat.

Former biology technician, Alison Cobb and her zoologist husband, Dr Stephen Cobb of the University of Nairobi, measured the temperature of black and white stripes of two wild-born plains zebra at 15 minute intervals on a sunny day in Kenya.

They found that through the day the absorbent black stripes rose to temperatures between 111F (44C) and 132F (56C) but the more reflective white ones stayed between 96F (36C) and 107F (42C).

The Cobbs believe the differing strip temperatures cause a small-scale convective air movement which disturbs the air and helps beads of sweat helps to evaporate more speedily.

Zebras also carry a special protein called laterhin in their hair which makes their sweat frothy, lowering the surface tension and allowing for quicker evaporation.

During the field research, the pair also discovered that zebras can raise the hair on their black stripes while the white ones remain flat, probably to further help evaporation.

These three components– convective air movements, frothy sweat and hair-raising – work together as a mechanism to enable zebras to wick the sweat away from their skin to help them cool down, they conclude.

Mrs Cobb, lead author of the new paper said: "Ever since I read Kipling's Just So Stories at bedtime when I was about four, I have wondered what zebra stripes are for.

“In the many years we spent living in Africa, we were always struck by how much time zebras spent grazing in the blazing heat of the day and felt the stripes might be helping them to control their temperature in some way.

"It was not until years later that we got the opportunity to collect some field data from zebras in Africa, when we also noticed their ability to raise the hairs of their black stripes, while the white ones lay flat.

“It was only much more recently, when the role of latherin was discovered in helping horses sweat to keep cool, that it all began to fall into place. The solution to the zebra's heat-balance challenge is cleverer, more complex and beautiful than we'd imagined.”

Previous studies have suggested the stripes serve as camouflage, yet zebra spend large parts of their time in the open.

Earlier this year Bristol University found the alternating monochrome wave forms disorientate bloodsucking horse flies.

The British team found that although flies circled and touched horses and zebras at similar rates, they landed on zebras 25 per cent less often

The Cobbs also speculate that the unstable air associated with the stripes may play a secondary role in deterring biting flies from landing on them.

“Of course, there is much more work to be done to gather evidence and fully understand how the stripes help zebras control temperature, but I am 85 now, so that's for others to do,” added Mrs Cobb.

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