When we think of dogs-with-jobs our minds tend to go straight to police, search and rescue, drug-sniffing and guide dogs. But therapy dogs are the unsung heroes of the working dog world! These four-legged therapists undergo detailed training to help comfort, support and encourage people suffering from a variety of mental health issues. They work in all kinds of conditions — from hospitals to group homes — to bring their special brand of assistance to those who need it most. Let’s take a closer look at how these four-legged heroes are helping humans.
If you have avoided having poinsettias in your home because of small children or animals, you’re not alone. But despite the commonly held belief that poinsettias are toxic, they aren’t. This myth seems to have originated in 1919 with a misattributed poisoning of a child and perhaps persisted because several members of the same family as the flower are quite toxic.
These leaves, however, aren’t meant for your salad, so eating even a couple can give you an upset stomach or cause vomiting. This is the reaction commonly seen in dogs and cats, but since these symptoms are mild, oftentimes no veterinarian care is required, although you should contact your vet if your pet is sick for more than a few hours.
Cat scratch disease (CSD) is an infection resulting from a scratch or bite of a cat (or, in rarer cases, dogs or other animals). It is not the same thing as Cat Scratch Fever, an album by Ted Nugent, although CSD can cause a fever, as well as swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, neuroretinitis and headaches.
CSD is the result of an infection by Bartonella henselae, a bacterium commonly transmitted to cats via the cat flea (yes, cats and dogs usually have different fleas). Rarely, ticks and spiders can also carry the bacterium, and transmit it directly to humans.
Kittens are more likely to carry Bartonella henselae than adult cats due to their underdeveloped immune systems, and are much more likely to bite or scratch their owners while learning how to play gently. But anyone who is exposed to cats of any age should take care to clean any wounds well to avoid risk. Bartonella henselae can also be transmitted to humans via cats’ saliva, so as sweet as it may seem that Fluffy is licking your wounds for you, probably best to wash it and wear a Band-Aid.
For veterinarians, CSD is actually considered an occupational hazard. Vets are frequently in close proximity to many cats, oftentimes cats that are acting aggressively and are more likely to bite or scratch. One study found Bartonella DNA in 32 of the 114 veterinarian patients they tested.
CSD is diagnosed via blood test, or simply by considering the symptoms of the patient, the most obvious of which is a swollen blister or sore and red area surrounding the infected bite or cut. Those who are immunocompromised (such as patients with HIV), very young or very old are more likely to be infected, and rates of infection generally increase during spring in North America, likely due to the birth of many new kittens.
So while they may be as cute as anything, cats do still pose a risk to their owners, and not only because they may destroy your favourite furniture.
The kitty in the picture is named Jean-Charles and he is available for adoption from the Réseau Secours Animal in Monteal now!
Female dogs opt for less yoga-like squatting postures than their male companions, who can sometimes be seen with their leg so far in the air they seem about ready to topple over. It turns out that the height to which male dogs raise their leg has a lot to do with their body size, where they are, and who’s around.
All canines use urine to mark their territory, but some do it more than others. All male dogs, big and small, raise their leg to pee or scent-mark much more frequently in the fall than in the summer, likely because it is mating season. Accordingly, the frequency of their urination increases whenever there is a female dog or a male competitor present. Males will sometimes even raise their leg when their bladders are empty, performing what is called a raised-leg display. Females mark their scent much more often when near their nest or den, and males mark theirs more frequently on unfamiliar objects and places.
The height to which they raise their leg also seems to have to do with getting a mate, defending territory, or intimidating other males. Male dogs raised their legs higher when near the edges of their territories, or when they were with their mates. But proportionally, littler dogs raised their leg much higher than their big friends. Perhaps this is their way of making themselves seem larger, like a bettawith its fins or a cat with its fur.
All we know for sure is that they look pretty silly to us.