Archives for posts with tag: dog

Dogs can suffer from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), with symptoms like repetitive shadow stalking or hours of paw chewing, and scientists have tracked down four genes behind this.

A dog can learn how another dog feels by the direction that its tail wags. A wag that tends to the left suggests anxiety, and one to the right suggests happiness, though it’s unlikely that we will spot it because the wag is too fast.

Some dogs can instinctively predict when someone is about to have an epileptic fit – dogs can also be trained to do this.

Stem cells from the linings of dog’s noses have been used to help paralysed dogs to walk. The cells were cultured and transplanted to the injury site in the spine of pet dogs and many of them were able to walk again with the help of a harness (see the video). It’s early days, but one day this could help repair damage in humans.

Dogs can shake 70% of the water out of their coat in four seconds – this is because their backbone can move around 30 degrees in either direction, and their skin is so loose that it can move three times faster than their backbone. Other mammals also do this, and the smaller they are the faster it is – mice shake at 30 times per second. This allows them to dry faster and keep warm.

Shaking dog

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

There is a fantastic video in the article in The Atlantic, and lots more information on the laboratory website at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

Children brought up with animals, and youngest children in families, are often the least likely to get asthma,  and this may be down to the microbiome (all the bacteria) in the home’s house dust. Mice fed house dust from homes with dogs were more likely to be immune to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) than mice fed with dust from non-dog homes. RSV is a common childhood infection, and children exposed to it are more likely to get asthma.The microbes in their gut were also different.

The hygiene hypothesis suggests that we get more allergies now because our immune systems don’t have enough to do. Hookworms might be able to cure allergies – but a dog is much more fun to take for a walk!

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