Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Pets

Personal space neurons

Do you ever get an annoying feeling when people invade your personal space? Or move without even thinking about it when something is suddenly coming at you? Turns out, we really do live in our own bubbles and we have special neurons, called peripersonal neurons, that are responsible for sensing that space and sending feedback to our brains. It is thought that these neurons are important for sensing approaching dangers […]

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Chocolate: Bad for Fido, good for us?

Many animals, especially dogs and cats, cannot tolerate theobromine which is an alkaloid from the cacao plant. Studies of humans, however, have found many beneficial health effects of theobromine, caffeine as well as flavonoids found in cocoa (Martinez-Pinilla et al., 2015). A new study published in Journal of Applied Physiology examined whether cocoa extract can improve heart health in individuals exercising in hypoxic conditions. Hypoxia (i.e. low atmospheric oxygen) reduces the […]

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Special diet improves feline chronic kidney disease

Some good news for cats (and their owners)! Like people, cats can develop chronic kidney disease. In fact, about 10% of felines over the age of 9 years develop it. Common symptoms in cats include weight loss, reduced muscle mass, and often excessive urination and thirst. Other symptoms include metabolic acidosis and more advanced stages may include protein loss in the urine In a new study published in Physiological Reports, researchers […]

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Intelligence: Dogs vs Cats

A new study seems to have provided an answer to the age-old question of who is smarter: dogs or cats? The speculation before the study was conducted was that hunting may require extra brain cells (neurons). If true, that would mean that cats would have more neurons than dogs. My apologies to all of the cat lovers out there. The findings from the study suggest that dogs may actually be […]

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Passing gas

Many children (and adults) find humor in flatulence. If you count yourself among these individuals, then a new book written by zoologist Dani Rabaiotti and ecologist Nick Caruso, coming out in April 2018, is a must-read. The book examines which animals truly pass gas and is aptly titled, “Does it Fart?” No longer will you be limited to only blaming it on the dog or cat. Although you will not […]

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Do negative facial expressions impact dogs?

As a dog owner, it seems to me as if my canine pal understands when I am happy or mad. But, is that seeming awareness due to my facial expressions or the tone of my voice? In a new study published in Behavioural Processes, researchers at the University of Lincoln and University of Sao Paulo attempted to unravel this mystery of how angry or happy human facial expressions might make […]

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Evidence your dog may be red-green color blind

You would think that Thanksgiving is already over when visiting most stores as there are Christmas decorations and merchandise everywhere. Reds and greens are popular colors for Christmas decorations and dog toys. However, a new study suggests that your dog may be red-green color blind. The study examined the ability of dogs to detect colors by exposing animals to a colored image on a screen and measuring the eye, head […]

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Is your pet overweight?

A new study conducted by the Banfield Pet Hospital (Vancouver, Washington) reports that as many as 1 in 3 dogs and cats living in the United States are overweight. The study was based on data collected by Banfield veterinary clinics on 2.5 million dogs and half a million cats over the past year. Obesity in pets was not related to the weight status of their owners. In fact, overweight pets were less prevalent in states whose populations […]

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