Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Please follow my blog

Please follow Dr Jo's blog posts here

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cats vs dogs: which will win?

A New Scientist article compared the two (I wouldn't dare!). Read it to find out who wins. Do you agree?

Join me on my blog to discuss further

New Scientist

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wolves lose hunting skills in mid life

Wolves lose hunting skills in mid life ccording to a new study...

Wolves that have been reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park typically live until nearly 6 years old. New research, which will be published in the journal Ecology Letters, found that the wolves' ability to kill prey peaks when they are 2 to 3 years old.The study researchers say the finding challenges a long-held belief that wolves are at the top of their game for their entire adult lives.

Read more

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pet Probem Solved on Facebook

Pet Problems Solved, Dr Jo's business is now on Facebook. Join me there to discuss pet issues.
Or follow me on Twitter.
Or go to the Pet Problems Solved website.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dr Jo's You Tube channel

Fun video of pets in Dr Jo's new You Tube channel.

Turtles are right flippered

Leatherback turtles tend to be the reptilian equivalent of "right-handed".

Across a population studied by scientists, more turtles preferred to use their right rear flipper rather than their left when laying eggs... Read more

BBC Earth News

Which paw do cats favour?
More pet info at Dr Jo's website

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Army dog found 14 months after going MIA in Afghanistan

AN Australian Special Forces explosives detector dog, Sabi - a black Labrador, given up for dead in Afghanistan has been found alive 14 months after going missing in action.

Read more about this feel good story

Courier Mail

More about pets on Dr Jo's website

Monday, November 9, 2009

The price of a pet

How much would you be willing to spend on your pet? Read more

What do you get if you cross a polar bear with a grizzly brown bear?

What do you get if you cross a polar bear with a grizzly brown bear? Read more

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


are you ready for Dogtober? More

Sabre-toothed cats had a wussy bite

New research delves into the world of sabre toothed cats... more

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dogs: Kids in Fur Coats?

New study shows that kids & dogs are alike but with one difference... More here


Monday, September 7, 2009

National Threatened Species Day

National Threatened Species Day (NTSD) is held on 7 September each year - commemorating the death of the last Tasmanian tiger at Hobart Zoo in 1936. More info from WWF here.
Australian species under threat: photo gallery

Can monkeys help explain music?

Music evokes emotions in people. To understand how this works, researchers have begun to look at monkeys & music.

More here

Friday, September 4, 2009

Father's Day

Sunday 6th Sept is Father's Day in australia. Here are some of the special dads in the animal kingdom... take a look

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Clever crows help rethink animal behaviour

Crows are capable of using multiple tools in complex sequences, the first time such behaviour has been observed in non-humans, scientists have found.
The birds are capable of a level of logical thinking, forward planning and creativity only normally associated with people. Scientists say the work calls for a rethink on the underlying mechanisms governing animal behaviour.
More here

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

World Dog Games

Are you a dog lover? Then you need to go along to the World Dog Games in Sydney on Sat 31st Oct and Sun 1st Nov 2009. Here you'll see Flyball, Agility, Diving Dogs and get advice about dog from experts such as ME!!
Tickets are available through Ticketek.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Right or left pawed?

Female cats tend to use their right front paw while male cats more often rely upon their left front paw, according to a new study that suggests the sex of a cat determines how its brain will be wired. Cats were given tasks to perfrom:

For the first task, the researchers placed a bit of tuna at the bottom of an otherwise empty, narrow-mouthed jar. They then observed how the cats attempted to extract the food treat.

Task two involved a fabric mouse on a string that was suspended above each cat's head. The paw that was first used to reach for the toy was recorded.

Finally, the scientists took the same toy for task two and slowly dragged it on the ground in front of the cats.

In humans, the steroid hormone testosterone has been linked to left handedness. This hormonal link also appears to carry over to animals. For example, studies on dogs that haven't been spayed or neutered show the same sex-based split, with female dogs favoring their front right paw and males favoring their left. No sex difference, however, was observed during tests involving neutered dogs.
More at Discovery.com

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New blog post from Dr Jo

What do you do to help animals?
Read this and take a moment ot reflect on what else you might do with your time, knowledge or resources to help animals in our community.
Read Dr Jo's blog

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What animal rivals humans in the scale of its world domination? Answer here

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dog of the week

Delta Society Australia has a fabulous Pet Partner, therapy dog program. You can see and read about the Therapy Dog of the Week here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

World Dog Games

The Purina World Dog Games willtake place in Sydney later this year. Flyball & agility enthusiasts get ready!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Panda porn & unexpected birth

Whenpanda pornography didn't entice a male panda to mate with his female partner at a Thai zoo, staff next tried artificial insemination, which resulted in a surprise birth this week. More here

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Radio podcasts

You can listen to Dr Jo's answers to pet behaviour problems in podcasts. Here's a list of them.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The power of the pussycat

NY Cat remembered... read more

Snakes treating depression

Snakes are being recruited as animal "therapists" by the NHS to treat depression.
A London clinic is the first to use reptiles to help patients overcome low self-worth and "communication issues". More

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dogs may look guilty but they aren't

Most owners know that guilty look on their dog's face. Usually it's when we arrive home and find the cushion shredded or the garden dug up. We attribute this to the dog knowing it has done wrong and feeling guilty.

New research shows this is not the case. Dog owners were either told their dog had stolen a biscuit or had not. In other words, the owners did not know if their dogs were truly guilty or not.
Result - the only dogs who showed guilty looks were the ones whose owners thought their dog was guilty.
This means dogs put on that look just for the owner.

Dr Jo says "the guilty look is probably an appeasement behaviour, to deflect the owner's emotions from the dog. The dog has learned to read the owner's behaviour and has learnt to attempt to appease us. We interpret that as guilt.
This does not mean that dogs are absent of any emotions. Far from it. They feel and express many emotions. This syudy shows, however, that humans cannot interpret these correctly. Lots of learning to do!"

Original research abstract
BBC story

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How long is a piece of string: don't ask a cat

Cats never get bored of chasing a piece of string. And the answer to that seems to be that they cannot link cause and effect. When one piece of string has a treat attached and another doesn't, they still paw at each one, unable to focus on the one with a reward.

Original abstract

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spitting is not rude in dolphin society

Spitting in public isn't rude in snubfin dolphin society—it's expected.
The rare marine mammals hunt together by chasing fish to the surface and then "spitting" water at them to herd them for the kill, researchers with the conservation nonprofit WWF recently discovered. Read more

National Geographic news

Monday, June 1, 2009

Animal make news 3 times more often...

than they did 30 years ago. Researchers have found that humans are moving away from a tendency to see animals as creatures dominated by society. Instead, people now see animals more frequently as part of a more "pure" or "natural" world that needs protection.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cat falls 26 stories and lives

A cat named "Lucky" fell 26 stories from a New York apartment and lived to purr another day. How lucky was that?! Read more

Twitter saves dog's life

Through the power of the Twitter network, donations have been raised to help an injured Pit Bull Terrier. More here

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pets cause embarrassment...blog

Somany ways that our pets embarrass us. Meet ten top embarrasing pets here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Australian national control strategy for wild dogs

Australia’s grazing industry now has a united front in its fight against predators, with the National Wild Dog Management Advisory Group announcing this week it will replace the previous state-by-state approach with a national control strategy. Read more

Serbian child raised by cats and dogs

Click on the link to read more.

Dr Jo says "Dogs and cats are great. On humans, I shall reserve my judgement."


Monday, May 25, 2009

Are Cocker Spaniels the meanest dog in the world?

A Spanish study has found that found English cocker spaniels tend to be more hostile than other breeds of dogs. The discovery adds to the mounting evidence that aggressiveness is an inherited characteristic, suggesting that genes and breeding practices can both help determine how a dog will behave.
1040 cases of canine aggression were analysed and the majority were attributed to English cocker spaniels, Rottweilers, Boxers, Yorkshire terriers and German shepherds. English cocker spaniels were more likely than other dogs to act aggressively toward their owners as well as unfamiliar people.
Among the English cocker spaniels, golden varieties and males were found to be the most hostile. The coat pigment melanin shares a common biochemical pathway with dopamine and other brain chemicals involved in the control of aggressive behaviour.
Poor owner handling also seems to be a factor.

Dr Jo says "I'm sure Cocker Spaniel owners and breeders might have something to say about this."

Original abstract

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tasmanian Devils endangered

Tasmanian Devils To Be Listed as 'Endangered' as their numbers have been dwindling fast as a result of a nasty infectious cancer that spreads among these marsupial mammals.
Now, the Australian government (the island of Tasmania, where the devils live, is part of Australia) has decided to list Tasmanian devils as endangered. Previously they were just listed as vulnerable.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wallabies at risk from feral predators

The future of the beautiful but threatened black-flanked rock wallaby remains uncertain as foxes and feral cats continue to wreak havoc on remaining wallaby populations, WWF-Australia has warned on International Day for Biological Diversity.

WWF lending a helping hand (or paw). More here
The term “dominance” is widely used in the academic and popular literature on the behaviour of domestic dogs, especially in the context of aggression. In reality there is no such thing as a "dominant dog". Your dog is not plotting to dominate you, although in certain encounters it may come off as the victor.

In a study (Bradshaw, Blackwell & Casey, 2009) of a freely interacting group of neutered male domestic dogs, pairwise relationships were evident, but no overall hierarchy could be detected. The authors propose that associative learning, combined with subjective resource value (V), can provide more parsimonious explanations for agonistic behavior in dogs than can the traditional concept of dominance.

Read the abstract.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Top ten child friendly breeds of dogs

People are always asking me which breed of dogs they should get for their family. It is difficult to recommend one particular breeds when people have all sorts of size and hair preferences and lifestyle requirements.
Here's a link to someone else's recommendations. See what you think. Top ten child friendly dogs.

Want to buy a Dylan dog poem?

If you have a spare A$20,000 then you might consider purchasing at auction apoemwritten by the great Bob Dylan, when he was 16, about a dog. You can read it here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Animal hoarding

Recent reports (SMH 18May09) have suggested that animal hoarding may be out of control. It is a problem not onlyfor societybut alsofor the families and friends of the individuals involved. But when does having lots of animals becoming 'hoarding'?
Animal hoarding may be identified as having:
· More than the typical number of companion animals and holding on to all of them (not adopting out)
· Inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter, and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in starvation, illness, and death
· Denial of the inability to provide minimum care and the impact on the animals, the household, and human occupants

Hoarding is actually a behavioural disorder,linked to obsessive compulsive disorder and needs psychological help. There are also considerable health risks with hoarding animals both for the animals and the people involved. If you suspect you or someone you know may be a hoarder, you can read more here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My wine tasts of cat pee - call an animal behaviourist!

I love cats and I love wine. I am aware that the no. 1 behaviour problem with cats is their peeing habits (I even wrote a book about it). Never did I think, however, that cat pee and wine could be used in the same sentence. Except perhaps when cleaning up yet another feline litter box 'accident' led to a post-cleansing glass of vino to calm the soul.

I love a good New Zealand sauvignon blanc. I was pleased to hear that $12 million was being invested to define the flavours of this wine. Not that I'm pretentious about describing the aromas and flavours of wine. I just know what I like and don't like!

The conclusions of the study: The flavour was a winning combination of sweet, sweaty passionfruit, asparagus and... cat's pee.

Apparently wine connoisseurs routinely describe wine using terms such as cat's pee and now the market place is also catching on. Cooper's Creek winery calls its sauvignon blanc 'Cat's Pee on a Gooseberry Bush'. A wine region called Wairarapa, near the capital of Wellington is the top spot for cat's pee influences in the white wine.

Will this stop me from drinking my favourite refreshment? No, I verymuch doubt it. Obviously I'm lagging behind and need to update my wine vocabulary (but won't I just sound like an animal behaviourist?)! I can just imagine this taking off in my world...

"Oh this camembert is infused with smidgeons of rabbit droppings."
"My how those wet dog aromas have crept into this fondue."

Perhaps Dr Jo and the wine industry should do some cross promotion. A complimentary copy of Dr Jo's 'Cat Toileting Problems Solved' booklet with every bottle of Sauv Blanc! In return I'll recommend my clients with inappropriate elimination issues indulge their palates with a bottle of Kiwi wine with the subtle flavour of cat's pee!

Pet Problems Solved website
Dr Jo on Twitter

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do dogs have a soul

Are humans the only animals with morals?
Animal behaviourist Marc Bekoff thinks not. Dogs are full of natural goodness.
While we used to think that animals did not feel emotions, we now believe they have a rich emotional life. Dogs can laugh. They solve problems.
One thing is sure - there is much more to find out about dogs.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gorillas are not dummies

Gorillas were thought to lag behind chimps in the intelligence ranks. New research shows otherwise.
Nationa Geographic

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Victoria's first seizure dog

Four-legged guardian angel, Addy the labrador is Victoria's first seizure response dog and barks to alert Tara's parents when the three-year-old has one of up to 80 epileptic seizures a day.
Addy, 2, is also trained to find Tara, who has autism, if she is lost and to stop disruptive behaviour.
Theories suggest dogs may detect seizures through changes in brain electrical activity, subtle behavioural changes or picking up a scent humans cannot detect.

Ocean surfing Kangaroo saved

A Gold Coast father, walking his son, early in the morning has saved a kangaroo from drowning. Why was a kangaroo swimming in the ocean? No one knows but it bounded into the ocean where sharks had been sighted several days before. The rescuer managed to get the kangaroo on his surfboard and bring him to shore and to safety.

Dr Jo comments...
  • How far will people go to save an animal? Especially one that is not their pet? Read this article to see why people do it
  • How lucky that a video camera just happened to be nearby to capture the moment.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Equitation science

Horses are often trained by the use of force, to which many horses respond by unwelcome evasions, resistances and flight responses. Time may be changing... as new research shows.

When unable to cope with problem equine behaviours, some handlers in the past might have used harsh methods or devices while others may have called in a ‘horse whisperer’ to remediate the horse. Often, however,the owner was unable to apply the techniue used by the "expert". And the expert did little to 'reveal' his techniques to the wider world.

Recent studies have begun to reveal humane and effective horse training methods,together with greater sharing of knowledge among practitioners. Reputable horse trainers using natural horsemanship approaches are talented observers of horse behaviour and respond consistently and swiftly to the horse’s subtle cues during training.

Learning theory and equine ethology, the fundamentals of the emerging discipline of equitation science, can be used to explain almost all the behaviour modification that goes on in these contexts and in conventional horsemanship. By measuring and evaluating what works and what does not, equitation science has the potential to have a unifying effect on traditional practices and developing branches of equitation.

Authors: Deborah Goodwin, Paul McGreevy, Natalie Waran and Andrew McLean

More reading here
Book - Equine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians and Equine Scientists by Dr Paul McGreevy

In human news-immunity,odour and your perfect match

Technology is always developing and the latest will match couples based on the genetic components of the human immune system -- and their odour.
Studies have linked odour to immune systems and shown that people are most likely to be attracted to the smells of those who have different histocompatibility genes than their own. Those who have similar immune systems tend to not be attracted to each others' odours.

Clients order a test online and receive it two days later. Then they simply swab their cheeks and put the sample into a machine. Software then matches them to someone with a completely different immune system.
More here

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spiders are like zombies

Just what we wanted to know-spiders are like zombies and ocme back to life - after being drowned! More here.

Nothing funny about laughing hyenas

A Hyena's giggle is not actually laughter, but a sound of frustration. New research found a way to distinguish individual hyenas based on the peculiarities of their sounds.
Researchers recorded the sounds and did an acoustic analysis of them to understand how the calls vary between individuals, and when they are used.
The scientists found that hyenas usually made these noises when they were fighting for food or in some kind of social conflict.
Watch here
The biologists found that they could tell many individuals apart from their giggles alone, which often have peculiarities of pitch and volume related to their age and social standing in the group.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Here's some great video footage of animals. Thanks Purina Animal All Stars.

And could these be the worst mothers?!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Could your dog go to school with the children?

Classroom Canines™ is a program designed to assist children improve their literacy, our volunteer and his/her Delta accredited dog visit a school setting on an informal but regular basis, sufficient to establish an ongoing relationship with the students and staff. Volunteer teams will work for one term in each school targeting those students as identified by the reading recovery teacher assigned to those schools.

In the school situation the Delta Pet Partner team works within the framework of the Student Welfare Policy – ‘the school values a culture of mutual respect, appreciation of individual differences and belief that each child has the right to learn and grow in a supportive environment among people who are caring and cooperative’.

Volunteers act under the direction of the school staff, in particular the reading recovery teacher assigned to each school. Primarily our volunteer teams will work with children either on a one to one or a group basis – as the children read aloud to the dog. Our volunteers may also be able to assist with informal chats, participating in group activities to help improve the self esteem, motivation, socialisation and communication of those children.
For more information visit Dr Jo's website and Delta Society Australia.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Jailed for turning house into zoo

A man in Manchester was jailed for 3 months when welfare officers found his bedrooms stacked floor to ceiling with tanks of lizards, frogs and other reptiles.
There were four boa constrictors, seven geckos, dogs, parrots, chickens, tortoises, a water dragon and a rat in a small plastic box-over 1000 pets in total!
Quite a menagerie!

When does lots of pets become too many pets? Hoarding

Fish feel pain

Joseph Garner, an assistant professor of animal sciences, helped develop a test that found goldfish do feel pain, and their reactions to it are much like that of humans.

Garner and Janicke Nordgreen, a doctoral student in the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, attached small foil heaters to the goldfish and slowly increased the temperature. The heaters were designed with sensors and safeguards that shut off the heaters to prevent any physical damage to a fish's tissue...

More here

Dr Jo says "Didn't we suspect this. I don't fish. I'm always kind to animals but this stillmakesme feel guilty!!)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The elusive Scottish wildcat is captured

Imagine thinking you were setting a trap for a fox,who was eating your chickens, and instead you catch a cat. A very wild cat! Considered completely untameable, the Scottish wildcat is down to around 400 in numbers.
The Scottish wildcats association is raising money to help save these beautiful creatures.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bizarre sea creatures

Great pics of animals you may not want to see in the sea.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dog food -good enough to eat

Researchers gave 18 volunteers five food samples to try in a blind taste test -- and only three were able to identify the canine fodder. More here

Dr Jo says "Who would volunteer?!"

Friday, May 1, 2009


How much do you know about Australian megafauna? Try this quiz.

Birds got rhythm

Birds have got rhythm.

After studying a cockatoo that grooves to the Backstreet Boys and about 1,000 YouTube videos, scientists say they've documented for the first time that some animals "dance" to a musical beat.

The results support a theory for why the human brain is wired for dancing. In lab studies of two parrots and close review of the YouTube videos, scientists looked for signs that animals were actually feeling the beat of music they heard.

The verdict: Some parrots did, and maybe an occasional elephant. But researchers found no evidence of that for dogs and cats, despite long exposure to people and music, nor for chimps, our closest living relatives.

More here.

Source: ComparativePsychNews@yahoogroups.com

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More protection for orangutans

says Sir David Attentborough. More here.

Is your pet safe from swine flu?

The answer seems to be yes. Read more here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blown away Chihuahua

Tinker Bell, a six pound chihuahua has been reunited with her owners after a 70-mph gust of wind picked her up and tossed her out of sight. A pet psychic guided her owners to a wooded area nearly a mile from where 8-month-old Tinker Bell had been last seen. The brown long-haired dog was dirty and hungry but otherwise OK.
The cherished pet "just went wild" upon seeing her.

Thanks To Sami at 2UE for this one!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More about that flu...

The top ten animals that carry flu...
an interesting read and not always what you imagine.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Flu basics

With the outbreak of Swine Flu,readup on flu basics.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cat cafe

Get your caffeine and cat fix all at once in this Japanese concept - a cat cafe. Perfect if you don't own a cat but need regular contact with these fascinating felines.

There are some rules that all who enter must follow, including no children under the 5th grade , cats too young to be held have scarves around their necks, customers may not hold or stroke a cat if it resists, must let napping cats lie, and never bring cat nip or cat food to the café.

It would seem that one hour of communion with a loving fur-ball at the cost of about $9 US dollars, is a bargain that many cannot resist.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Red-Tailed Hawk Web Cam

Two Red-tailed Hawks have built a nest on a window ledge at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The nest sits just outside a window where a camera has been positioned to create this video stream. The camera looks through the glass window pane which is 61 cm. No artificial lighting has been added, so the nest is only visible during daylight hours.
click on title to view webcam

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fluorescent puppy

A cloned beagle named Ruppy – short for Ruby Puppy – is the world's first transgenic dog. She and four other beagles all produce a fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light.

The team, some of which produced the world's first cloned puppy, Snuppy, created Ruppy by first infecting dog fibroblast cells with a virus that inserted the fluorescent gene into a cell's nucleus. They then transferred the fibroblast's nucleus to another dog's egg cell, with its nucleus removed. After a week dividing in a Petri dish, researchers implanted the cloned embryo into a surrogate mother.

Transgenic dogs will give researchers another potential tool to understand disease.
New Scientist

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On the brink of extinction

Everyone should know about these 10 animals on the brink of extinction - and what yu can do to help.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fun with dogs...

Just some fun today...
Command this dog to do some tricks. Try jump and kiss -so cute!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Radio radio 21Apr09

Dr Jo answers listens questions including an overweight cat, digging dog, cat and rabbit interaction, bunny poop and a dog that's not eating. Listen here.

Yowie on the prowl

Dr Jo says "A Yowie? Really???"


Friday, April 17, 2009

Airline for pets - a first

The World's first airline just for pets will suit be up and running. Pet Airways will have flights going to five major cities: New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and Washington, D.C. and hopes to expand to 25 cities within a few years.
An attendent will be with the animal at all times during the flight and animals will be secured in cases. This should reduce the number of pet injuries when being transported as cargo.

Dr Jo says "I'm guessing it may be a while before we see this in Australia. Qantas? Virginblue? Jetstar?"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Posties want dogs locked up

Posties (mailmen) are urging owners of cranky canines to keep them locked away to help make their job safer, according to reports in news.com.au today. Even smaller breeds were to blame in attacks on postal delivery people, with confrontations including nipping at heels, chasing bikes down the street and barking ferociously.

Apparentlyof the 340 injuries to postal workers in NSW last year, 170 were linked to dogs. Along with reversing drivers, the life of a postie is never easy!
More reports here.

Dr Jo says "Try giving the dogs a treat each day.This way a postie will be a friend for life, not an enemy to bark at or chase and send away."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Snakes on the rise

Apparently more snakes are being sighted around homes in Queensland. After seeing a red bellied black snake in my back garden in suburban Sydney, I conclude it's not just Queensland!
It seems that the snakes, after heavy rainfall, are looking for places to campout and for potential nest sites. More here.
ABC news

Decided to capture and relocate our snake. Called a snake handler and while he saw it, it managed to hide either in our pond or in the bushes nearby. Still a snake lurking!

More news about snakes...
Snakes on a plane
Biting back!

Dog eats underwear

A NORTHERN Territory dog's knickers fetish almost cost him his life when he swallowed his owner's g-string over the Easter long weekend. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel put his life at risk by stealing his owner's undies from the floor of her laundry as she was doing her washing.
The Daily Telegraph

Dr Jo says "Problems involving owner underwear is actually quite common in our pets. Most simply enjoy being near it when left alone. It reminds them of us as this is where our scent is concentrated most. Occasionally some will even ingest it. Some dogs have been known to raid the laundry basket and parade your g-string or larger granny-style undies in front of your entire dinner party!"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Radio radio 14Apr09

Dr Jo talks Presidential pets, Portugese Water Dogs and answers listener questions on Radio 2UE in Sydney 954AM at 2pm. Listen at http://www.2ue.com.au/ or download podcast

Presidential pets

A nice pictorial look at the pets kept by the various US Presidents over the years. Click here...

Pampered pets

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that pets are being pampered. But we pet owners all knew that already:) Full story here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Veggie cat... surely not good for cats

A cat rescued from an alleyway two years ago refuses to eat meat. Her owner says that she has tried fresh meat and fish and canned foor but the cat continues to prefer a plate of veggies. More here.
Dr Jo says... "Cats need taurine in their diet.They also need a high concentration of protein. I wonder how much this cat is getting. Perhaps she should try a good quality dry food. The cat may not taste this as meat but he will get the nutrients he needs."

rabbits under sydney harbour bridge

A family of rabbits is living under the Sydney Harbour Bridge... in time for Easter. More here

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Just what is a chuditch?

Just what is a chuditch?
Well I guess you wouldn't know because there haven't been any around for 20 years. The Chuditch, otherwise known as the Western Quoll is a carnivorous marsupial about the size of a cat. It used to occur over a large area of Australia but hasn't been sighted in 2 decades... until recently, when a male appeared.

It is thought that they may reappear due to a reduction in the number of foxes.

Unfortunately, the male chuditch that was sighted was badly injured by a rabbit trap and had to be euthanized.

Dr Jo says " I guess one male Chuditch hasn't been around for 20 years, so populations are hiding out somewhere. Good news for Aussie native animals!"

Pretty flamingo

Sadly Sydney's Taronga Zoo has had to say goodbye to one of their eldest inhabitants. Yellowband has been ia resident of the zoo since 1948 and is the last of his kind, given Australian restictions on imprting birds due to avian flu.
On a lighter note, a post mortem of Yellow band discovered that she was in fact a he!!
Full story here
Daily Telegraph

Climate change affects pets

Increasing temperatures will expose pets to new infectious diseases spread by ticks, fleas and mosquitoes, according to new research in Europe.

  • The European dog tick is transmitting a malaria-like disease into countries where it was once rare and increasing numbers of Ixodes ticks increase their risk of passing tick-borne encephalitis to horses and dogs.
  • Cat flea typhus, still a rare disease, may also become more common in both cats and dogs.
    Dogs in central Europe will increasingly become vulnerable to the roundworm dirofilaria spread by mosquitoes.
  • Increasing spread of sandflies due to climate change may also increase canine leishmaniosis
Original source: Newscientist.com; Veterinary parasitology journal

Watch out for Goannas

Fraser Island visitors used to have to look out for dingoes. Now dingo fencing has proved so effective that digoes are unable to chase off the goannas. As a result goannas are now entering campers' tents and joining their picnics. Apparently, the island's dingo management strategy is now being reviewed
Original source: news.com.au

Dog friendly cars

Check out dog friendly cars. Do we have these in Australia? (Click on title)
Pet Connection

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rabbits not such cute Easter bunnies

Easter bunnies may be cute but the wild kind, feral rabbits in Australia, eat their way through $600 million to $1 billion annually. That's the cost of damage the introduced pest causes Australian farmers. Keeping rabbits as pets in Queensland, where they are banned, can incur fines of up to $30,000.

Cats threaten fish

An Australian scientist claims that the global gourmet cat food demand is threatening fish populations. Deakin University's Dr Giovanni Turchini claims that "Our pets seem to be eating better than their owners."

Dr Jo says "Can't argue with that statement!"

Ferrets in the news

An inaugural Australian Ferret Health Symposium was held recently with ferret specialists addressing case studies, evolutionary history, ferret-specific diseases and statistics. Melbourne tops the nation in ferret loving, a case of 'love at first bite".


Dr Jo says "No one asked me to talk about my ferrets :("

Banned cat worth $2 million?

A Gold Coast couple say they will seek up to $2 million compensation following the Australian Federal Government's decision to ban savannah cats from the continent.
Savannah cats, a cross between a domestic cat and a serval, a medium-size wild cat from Africa, can weigh up to 12 kilograms and pose a risk to native wildlife.

Sydney Morning Herald (click on the article title to read more)

Dr Jo says "oops... my Maine Coon may grow just as large... but I won't let him hunt!"

Why romance doesn't rate in the pet world

Check out Pet Talk Radio archives for some interesting stories about pets including this one from Dr Jo.
Pet Talk Radio

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

dog aggression caused by...

Canine management techniques that are predictors of canine aggression according to a recent study (O'Sullivan et al,2008) include:
  • owners reprimanding the dog by physical and verbal means
  • owners allowing the dog to initiate play and to win tug-of-war games
  • allowing the dogs onto household furniture
  • feeding the dog directly from the family table
  • not being trusted with children
  • not responding to basic commands
  • variable obedience to different people
  • variable degrees of obedience depending on the location
  • displays of problem behaviours such as destructiveness and barking only when family members were present
  • displays of fearful reactions in specific circumstances and excessive displays of specific behaviours
  • owner tolerance of significant degrees of aggressive behaviour
  • inadequate or ineffective obedience training
  • biting of adult household members
  • possible influence of ad libitum feeding


O'Sullivan et al.(2008). The management and behavioural history of 100 dogs reported for biting a person. Appied Animal Behaviour Science, 114: 149-158.

Confrontation elicits canine aggression

When owners seek help for their dog's behaviour problems they have often already tried a few techniques in an attempt to solve the issues. These "solutions" are suggested by a variety of sources including friends and some "professionals" of the pet world. Aversive techniques often used in an attempt to correct behaviour problems include yelling 'NO' or an alpha roll where the dog is turned over and held down.

A recent study (Herron et al, 2009) has shown that such aversive techniques result in the dog being more aggressive towards their owner. Dog owners need to learn that aversive techniques can put them in danger and find other more appropriate solutions to their pet's behaviour problems.

N.B. Next time you watch an 'educational' television show about dogs, look out for aversive techniques being used!


Herron, M.E. et al (2009). Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behaviour Science Vol. 117: 47-54.

Also see this article

Dogs do get jealous

For many years I have been telling dog owners that we have no idea if dogs can feel jealousy. But it does appear that they can. They have a sense of fair play. If another dog is given treats for an activity they perform and they are not, then they cease to perform that activity as often. It seems that this may be linked to their cooperative society.
So yes, dogs can be "jealous"
New Scientist

Dogs and owners match

A new study has confirmed that people match their dogs looks or is it the other way around?). Subjects (non-dog owners) had to match Poodles, Staffys and Labradors to their owners and guess what -they answered correctly more often than due to chance. It seems that people fit the stereotypes of their breeds.

Dr Jo says "I own a mixed breed - what does that say for my looks!!"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Canine castaway

Canine castaway survives five months on island... living off goats and koalas to stay alive
Dr Jo says "Bet her family were glad to see her home"

Could your dog survive as a castaway?
Consider this:
  • A dog's main aim in life is to find food and shelter. OK, nowadays its not antelope and caves. It's more like gourmet cuisine and your sofa. But it's an inbuilt survival strategy.
  • Feral dog populations do well in most countries. These animals have learnt to scavenge. They may be hungry but generally their survival instincts kick in when abandoned.
  • Your pampered pooch has teeth and will defend himself when required. When he is hungry or threatened, he will ensure he survives. He will compete with others for his precious resources,especially when these are in limited supply.

Thanksfully most dogs never need to use these instinctive skills. Could you be living with a wild dog?

Crocodile hunting

Agree or not?
Should we hunt crocodiles?
ABC news

meet the bilby...

Australia's answer to the Easter bunny

Animals at work

Fantastic job - workplaces that are pet-friendly.Do you take your pet to work?I tookmy puppy on Friday to Purina.Not sure about productivity but cuddles levels were high:)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Disappearing quolls...

A marsupial expert says Townsville, in north Queensland, is one of the last places in Australia where quolls can be found in large numbers.
ABC news

Camels train themselves...

THIRSTY Northern Territory camels have acquired the knack of turning on taps.
The dry desert heat can make anyone thirsty, but the marauding pests - who some estimate now roam the outback in their millions, are causing havoc in their pursuit of a drink.

Lion training

April 2, 2009
Pride of the pride...Asali the lioness was the smartest of the pride and gets a reward.
IT'S an act of feline co-operation that would put many a moggie owner to shame. The keepers at Taronga Zoo have trained an irascible, 125-kilogram lioness to volunteer her hip at the edge of her cage so they can administer vaccination injections - no sedation, no drama, no claws before bedtime.
Sydney morning Herald

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Horse stress reduced...

Increasing the fat content in diet may be a valuable tool to reduce horse stress and the risk of accidents.
Science Direct

Woman guilty of murder over barking dog

A Sydney woman has been found guilty of fatally stabbing a man after he complained about her barking dog.
Sydney Morning Herald

Dogs (Not Chimps) Most Like Humans

March 26, 2009 -- Chimpanzees share many of our genes, but dogs have lived with us for so long and undergone so much domestication that they are now serving as a model for understanding human social behavior, according to a new paper.
Discovery News

Canine tail chasing linked to...

Dog tail chasing linked to high cholesterol
March 24, 2009 -- A team of veterinarians has found a surprising link between compulsive tail-chasing in dogs and high cholesterol, according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice.
Discovery News

Pet gyms...

Obesity need no longer be a problem for pets
The Sun

Laptop for dogs...

Petbook K9
The world's first laptop for pets

Dog and puppy rescue

A dog and a puppy were rescued from a ledge at the bottom of a cliff in Scotland
BBC News

People petition for lifeguard dog

A lifeguard dog that was banned from a Cornish beach will be back on duty this summer after hundreds of people signed a petition to get him back.
BBC Newsround