Mon. Medley: Dust, Dress Up & K9 Comm.
As the regular work week begins, we present three pet-related topics to get your workday going.
Dogs are the Best Medicine
There are many reasons that pet owners can identify as to why having a family dog is beneficial. Pets can teach teens and younger kids respect and responsibility. Simply petting them can lower blood pressure and release positive neurochemicals for when owners are stressed out. Having a dog is a major deterent to home invasions and other criminal behavior involving the homefront, not to mention what a dog or dogs will actually do to an intruder foolish enough to break entry.
However, a new study is suggesting that a canine’s presence in the home may directly boost health in infants and newborns. Previous studies have displayed a correlation between growing up in a household with at least one dog or cat and having a reduced chance of developing asthma and dust allergies. New research from Susan Lynch, who serves as an associate medical professor at the University of California at San Francisco, helps shed light on the subject by explaining why this link exists.
According to Lynch, early life exposure to canine dust and dander protects babies from autoimmune related disease because the dust contains the beneficial bacteria, Lactobacillus johnsonii. In lab trials, mice exposed to microbes of the same bacteria had fewer immune cells in the airway passages that responded poorly to asthmatic allergens.
What does all of this mean? The ingestion of doggy dust may alter gut flora in a positive way, somehow translating into a stronger immunity or tolerance towards pathogenic microbes found in “regular dust.” Lynch points out that this would validate the hygiene hypothesis: industrialized, “more sanitary” nations have higher rates of asthma and autoimmune disorders due to a lack of exposure to beneficial bacteria.
National Dress Up Your Pet Day
Tomorrow, January 14th, is an emerging pet related holiday involving silly costumes and raising awareness. Created by professional dog trainer Colleen Paige, National Dress Up Your Pet Day serves to bolster pet boutiques that produce clothing for dogs and cats. However, aside from its obvious nod to niche pet clothing manufacturers, the day also lends itself to increasing animal adoption.
Hopefully, with shelters and rescue groups increasingly participating, cute costumes will draw public attention and thereby increase pet adoption. Paige even closes the dialogue on her website with, “Adopt! Don’t shop!”
She also points out that it’s important to not use costumes or clothing that are either physically dangerous for a pet or restrictive of a pet’s senses. Make sure that if your dog makes a daily or nightly circuit around the neighborhood that he or she is properly outfitted for the occasion!
The Six Million Dollar… Dog?
No More Woof, a developing hardware company financed in part by crowdfunding site Indiegogo, has unveiled three models of a new translation device. If you’re unwilling to spend $65, $300, or even $1,200 on yourself to have your thoughts and ideas more easily understood, then you might be shocked to learn that this line is for dogs.
The NMW Superior, the $1,200 model that makes a dog appear to be assimilated by the Borg, is an EEG (electroencephalography) reader paired with a CPU and translation module. While all three models turn doggy thoughts into human speech by reading brain activity, the CPU of the Superior “learns” patterns in a dog’s neuroactivity to express more complex thoughts, like, “I’m hungry… but I don’t like this dog food.”
Even more basic units can be set up to interface with a smartphone, alerting owners to messages like, “I’m tired,” while they’re away. While the device may seem a little bulky, and the software might not be measuring very subtle differences in brain activity, this company is paving the way for a future of canine cyborgs, where the line between human family member and dog will blur even further.