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 This Week on Animal Radio

Animal Radio for June 8, 2024  

Pigs Are Just As Smart as Dogs and Primates
Dr. Lori Marino, Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy

Dr. Lori Marino holding a brainAccording to Dr. Lori Marino, the Executive Director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, research shows that pigs are smart as, if not smarter than, chimpanzees and dogs. The often lowly regarded swine may even have self-awareness, something our companion animals don't understand.

In a study in the scientific journal, the International Journal of Comparative Psychology, they looked at what we already know about pigs and put it in a comparative context to try and understand who they are, not just what they can do.

Essentially, they looked at research on cognition social complexities, emotion, personality and even self-awareness. They tried to come up with an understanding of who they are and what kinds of non-evasive research would help us to understand them even better.

When questioned as to whether or not this research covered all pigs, from pot bellied to farm pigs to wild boar, Dr. Marino states that what we do know is that domesticated pigs are basically one species and they are very, very close to their wild counterparts. So far they don't have any information about differences across breeds.

From what we know, the jury is still out on whether a pig has true self-awareness. They are still trying to stick with the data so claims aren't made that can't be backed up. However, Dr. Marino states that there are some findings out there that suggest that they do have a sense of self.

One of the studies had to do with what a pig does when it is confronted with a mirror. Some animals do recognize themselves in mirrors, like chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants. Cats and dogs do not recognize themselves in mirrors, which doesn't mean they don't have a sense of self, but in this particular way of probing it they don't show it and attack the mirror.

Pig During one of the studies with pigs, it was found that they could use a mirror to find hidden food. That is interesting because that is using the mirror in a level similar to how monkeys use one. Monkeys don't show mirror self-recognition, but they can use a mirror as tool to guide their hands to hidden food. So, this suggests they know something about themselves, the mirror image and their environment. This is a form of self-awareness, even though it's not formally self-recognition.

Pigs also do other things too. They are able to use a joystick to move a curser on a screen, which is a pretty sophisticated cognitive task. They have to understand that if they move the joystick, it moves something else and that something else then moves towards a goal on a screen. What this is called in comparative psychology is self-agency; the ability to understand that your actions are intentional and can actually affect something else in the environment.

So far, we have learned that pigs:

- Have excellent long-term memories
- Are whizzes with mazes and other tests requiring location of desired objects
- Can comprehend a simple symbolic language and can learn complex combinations of symbols for actions and objects
- Love to play and engage in mock fighting with each other, similar to play in dogs and other mammals
- Live in complex social communities where they keep track of individuals and learn from one another
- Cooperate with one another and show signs of Machiavellian intelligence such as perspective-taking and tactical deception Pig and Dog
- Can manipulate a joystick to move an on-screen cursor, a capacity they share with chimpanzees
- Can use a mirror to find hidden food
- Exhibit a form of empathy when witnessing the same emotion in another individual

Dr. Marino explains, "We have shown that pigs share a number of cognitive capacities with other highly intelligent species such as dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, and even humans. There is good scientific evidence to suggest we need to rethink our overall relationship to them."

Dr. Marino is the executive director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy and provided the scientific support for the lawsuits of the Nonhuman Rights Project regarding recognition of chimpanzees as "legal persons." In the blockbuster documentary Blackfish, Dr. Marino explains the neural underpinnings of cetacean intelligence and why orcas and other cetaceans cannot thrive in captivity.

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To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate - That is the Question!
Doc Halligan, Lucy Pet Foundation

Doc Halligan with DogDoc Halligan has the 411 on pet vaccines. Can they cause cancer? Are they really necessary? Is there a way to tell if your pet needs them or can skip them? Why are the pharmaceuticals only testing for a year?

Doc Halligan says the question of whether to vaccinate or not, is not really as controversial as you would think. There is also a lot of miscommunication about vaccinating.

The fact of the matter is every year cats and dogs die from preventable diseases that they could have been vaccinated for. One of these diseases is dog parvo, where thousands of dogs who didn't get the vaccination die every year. Feline distemper and feline leukemia are two other diseases. Then there is rabies, which is a big one. While there may not be very many cases of rabies, there are cases in domesticated animals, more so in cats than in dogs. These are all preventable diseases.

Years ago you would take your pet to the vet's every year for all of their vaccinations. Then the veterinarians in the schools started doing research and testing to see if pets really needed to be vaccinated every year.

However, the vaccine manufacturers only did studies for one year. They didn't do three year or longer studies. This is because if they did a study that showed your pet didn't need repeated vaccinations for five years, that would significantly cut into their profits.

But when the vet schools did their own studies, they found that pets that were vaccinated properly had antibodies three to ten years later. This is what caused such a controversy.

To be safe, you can test our pet's titer. Through this blood test you can actually see if your pet has antibodies to the preventable diseases. However, the test is not cost effective yet and can range from $50 - $100.

Cat Being VaccinatedThe problem now is that people who used to take their pets to the vets every year for vaccinations, aren't bringing their pets to be seen at all. Or, if a vet sees them, there are many years between visits. Remember, one year in the life of your pet is like seven yours in yours. If your pet hasn't visited a vet in three years, it is like 21 years without any medical checkups.

While it is not common, it does happen where a pet can die from a vaccination. They can go into anaphylaxis and die. But, if you are at a veterinary hospital when that happens, it is usually happens quickly and it can be counteracted by your veterinarian. However, when you go to a shot clinic where you get the shot and then leave, you need to watch your pet closely for the first hour or two.

Pets can also get cancer from the adjuvants that are in the vaccines. Not the virus, but the adjuvants that keep it in the solution. This can trigger cancer especially in cats. But now they are saying that any kind of injection can trigger a sarcoma, which is a malignant, nasty tumor in the shoulder blades and usually ends up in death.

This is why vaccinations are universally given in certain limbs, so that the limb can be amputated if it happens. A rabies vaccination is usually given in the right rear limb, the FVRCP vaccination in cats is given in the right front limb and the DAPP vaccination is given to dogs in the right front limb.

Check with your local veterinarian to see what vaccinations your pets need and what is required for the area in which you live.

Dog  Being VaccinatedThe Mission of The Lucy Pet Foundation is to reduce pet overpopulation by having mobile spay/neuter clinics across the country and to support causes that benefit animal welfare. The Lucy Pet Foundation's buses travel around Southern California focusing on spaying and neutering. These buses are state of the art surgery units.

The Lucy Pet Foundation not only offers free and reduced spays and neuters, they also do microchipping, vaccines and de-wormings. Spaying and neutering is not only great for pet population control, but it has been proven that an animal will live on an average of 40-percent longer after having this surgery.

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Dr. Debbie WhiteExtreme Heat Tips: Keeping Your Dog Safe When the Temperature Soars - Dr. Debbie

"Oh, but it's a dry heat." We've all heard that comment, used to describe the desert Southwest climate, one which becomes especially taxing on Southwest U.S. residents during the summer months. The desert may lack the added humidity concerns that much of the country knows, but when temperatures escalate above 100 degrees, you can't dismiss the dangers of that infamous dry heat.

As the mercury rises, so too do the number of heat stroke cases veterinarians see. The basic reason why dogs succumb to heat stroke lies with their differing cooling mechanism. Humans sweat to dissipate heat, while dogs pant. When faced with high temperatures, high humidity, exercise or excitement, panting fails miserably at cooling dogs.

Pet owners should be observant for symptoms of heat stroke including excess panting, anxiety and thick ropy drool. As heat stroke progresses, dogs may exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, a dark to blue color of gums and collapse. Shock sets in as high temperatures damage the brain, respiratory system, kidneys, and digestive tract.

Be especially vigilant with at-risk dogs such as senior dogs, those with chronic illnesses and breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston terriers whose short face and upper airway conformation makes it more difficult cool off in high temperatures.

Here are the top 5 misconceptions about heat stroke in pets:

1. Heat stroke only occurs during peak daylight hours
FALSE: Extreme temperatures continue to rise into the afternoon and remain a threat to pet even after dark. Dogs left outdoors in evening hours can still develop heat stroke long after the sun has set. For best safety keep pets indoors day and night during extreme heat. Limit exercise to early morning hours before sunrise, since evening temperatures are anticipated to remain high.

Dog with Heat Stroke2. Dogs can't get heatstroke if they are left with access to pools or shade
FALSE: Outdoor cooling resources like doggie pools, misters, shade and ice blocks may not be enough to prevent a fatal heat stroke event. Access to these cooling means does not guarantee protection. Keep pets indoors during dangerous heat.

3. Heat stroke can be treated at home without veterinary care
FALSE: Heat stroke is a life threatening emergency which requires appropriate intravenous and emergency veterinary care. Prompt veterinary care is important and delayed home care efforts can jeopardize survival. Plunging a pet into very cold water or ice baths will worsen a pet's odds of surviving heat stroke. Intense cold and ice causes capillaries to constrict, trapping heat in the body core and prolonging dangerous heats effects on the vital organs in the body.

4. Only dogs get heatstroke
FALSE: Cats are less prone to heat stroke because they aren't as physically active, but elderly or chronically ill cats are less apt to recover from heat's effects. Rabbits and chinchillas are very sensitive to high temperatures, succumbing to heat stroke easily with temperatures just above 80 degrees. Caged pets like rabbits, ferrets, birds and chinchillas suffer heat stroke deaths when left home during family vacation and power outages shuts off air conditioning. Have a pet sitter check on any pets once or twice daily during summer months.

Dog in Pool5. It's okay to leave dogs in cars as long as you open windows wide, not just crack the windows
FALSE: Never leave a dog unattended in a car during summer. Even if windows are fully open, the hot vehicle environment with little air circulation becomes a death trap for dogs. Even a few minutes in a hot car can prove dangerous. Every second counts when a dog is faced with heat stroke. See a veterinarian immediately with any concerns of heat related illness and be especially cautious during the upcoming heat. Look out for your furry friend and keep him safe in the coming heat wave.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend." Dr. Debbie's books.

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Lori and FlobearAnimal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Program Helps Those in Hospice Care For Pets
A program in Louisiana gives hospice patients and their animal friends more peace. Hospice of Acadiana started the Pet Peace of Mind after receiving a $5,000 grant from Banfield Charitable Trust. The program was designed to help both the hospice patient and their family members, who may be caring for the patient's pet, to ensure that an animal is not neglected or homeless when its owner passes away. Special Hospice pet volunteers help with arranging for pet placement through relationships with local rescue groups, pet day cares and veterinarians.

Panda at a ZooRestrictions On Leasing Pandas
Leasing of giant pandas to zoos by Chinese research centers has become even more strict and regulated. The State Forestry Administration, China's wildlife watchdog agency, said that the giant panda leasing system needed government regulation. In the future, zoos applying to borrow pandas will have to send their keepers and veterinarians to China for three months of training and special inspection teams will be sent out to the zoos every year to check on the pandas.

Financial Responsibilities of Owning Pets
Pet ownership or pet parenting isn't all kitten kisses and puppy love, and before you adopt a furry friend, you need to be sure you're ready for the financial responsibility that comes with keeping an animal alive and happy. Just like the index on the cost of raising a child comes out every year, here's one for cats and dogs that focused on the first year cost of having a pet when you have to acquire all the things they need. The first year of being a pet parent to a cat will cost about $1,150 and for a dog that number is $1,850 as estimated by the ASPCA. So dogs are more expensive, but of course worth every penny!

Grumpy CatThe Wealthiest Pets in the World
Just like people, there are some really wealthy pets in the world! We're talking super rich!!! And the richest of them is probably not a shock to you - it was Grumpy the Cat. It's estimated Grumpy's owner made more than 100 million dollars for appearances, modeling, book deals and ads. She disputed the number, but wouldn't say if it was too high or too low. Also on the list was Moose the Jack Russell, who starred as Eddie on Frasier, Keiko the killer whale, Rin Tin Tin, the dogs who starred as Lassie and Virgin America spokesdog Boo.

Ear Listen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1279)

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