Newsletter Fall 2019

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Fall 2019

What's New?

ABI is pleased to announce that we will be offering a new course, ABI 254 Canine Aggression, in our upcoming Fall semester beginning September 19, 2019. This course will be an elective in our Advanced Canine Training program.


Animal Aggression

Zafar was usually a friendly dolphin. Nicknamed by the locals at the Bay of Brest beach, located in western France, he was known to playfully swim alongside people and to even let them hold onto his dorsal fin. As a result of his friendly nature, he became quite the tourist attraction.  But Zafar’s behavior turned much more intimate and dangerous over time. The BBC reported that he began aggressively rubbing up on swimmers and boats, lifted one woman with his nose, and prevented yet another from returning to shore. Though that swimmer had to be rescued, she was fortunately not seriously harmed.

finAccording to a report by a marine expert, Zafar was “in heat,” and therefore looking for companionship from unsuspecting bathers. Although no swimmers were seriously hurt by Zafar, authorities worried that he could injure someone if his behavior were to worsen. One local mayor instituted a shutdown of the beach whenever Zafar was spotted in the water.  Zafar’s sexual frustrations, although slightly comical, can be perceived as a form of animal aggression. Aggression is defined as threats or harmful actions directed toward another individual and can include threat displays, lunging, growling, snarling, snapping, and biting. Since animals can't verbalize their frustrations with words, aggressive behaviors are considered one of their means of communication.

Aggressive behavior in animals can occur for a variety of reasons and can take many forms. Defensive aggression, for example, is when an animal is motivated by fear to take action. Instead of trying to retreat, they decide that the best defense is a good offense.  Defensive aggression was on full display in the lion community last year. Usually poachers are the ones that do the hunting, but in February of 2018 in a private game park in Limpopo, South Africa, a pride of lions decided to turn the tables. It was reported that the lions being hunted, rather than run, attacked and mauled the poacher to death. Afterwards, they ate his remains and left only his head behind. Now that’s a great example of defensive aggression!

Other classifications of aggression include (but are not limited to): protective aggression, which is exhibited when an animal thinks that one of its family members or friends is in trouble; territorial aggression, which happens when animals attack an intruder, whether the intruder is friend or foe; and possessive aggression, which is when an animal guards their possessions from others, whether they need to or not.

goat lickAnimal aggression can occur in most species of animals, and mountain goats are certainly no exception. In September of 2018, NPR reported that mountain goats were being sedated, blindfolded, and then airlifted out of the Olympic National Park in Washington State. Flying goats- now there’s a site you don’t see every day! The goats were wreaking havoc on the park by both disrupting the ecosystem and assaulting visitors.  The goats were craving salt, and because the park was not their natural habitat, there were no salt licks available. So what was the next best thing? A walking, talking, human salt lick of course. Apparently the mountain goats were attracted to the salt in human sweat and urine, and they ended up harassing and even attacking humans, killing one man in 2010. It seems mountain goats take their salt pretty seriously.

While there is not much that can be done to control aggressive behavior in wild animals (except to stay away from excited dolphins or salt-craving goats), domestic animals, such as dogs, are quite a different story.  In dogs, aggression can be caused by medical problems, so a veterinarian can be consulted in order to rule out or treat any issues. Professional dog trainers or animal behaviorists can also help owners determine the best approach for dealing with a dog’s aggression. It is possible that medication might be required as well.

If you're interested in learning more about how to understand and deal with aggression in dogs, please check out our new course, ABI 254 Canine Aggression, launching this fall.

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Should You Use CBD Oil to Treat Your Dog?

Everywhere you turn lately, it might seem that someone seems to be touting the amazing health benefits of CBD oil. Supposedly it can do everything from alleviating pain and anxiety to improving heart health and curing cancer. But what exactly is CBD oil, and does it live up to the hype? And if it's safe for human use, can it be helpful in treating conditions found in dogs as well?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol, which is a compound found in cannabis and hemp. CBD is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is usually derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. CBD does not usually contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties, and therefore can't give you a "high." In fact, most CBD products are derived from hemp and not from marijuana, but can be derived from both. Hemp, by Federal law, cannot contain more than 0.3 percent of TCH. If it does, it's considered marijuana (the two plants are closely related, and accidental cross-pollination can turn a hemp crop into a cannabis crop).

weed dog

CBD (and THC) work by interacting with our body's endocannabinoid system, a regulatory system made up of naturally occurring cannabis-like molecules. These endocannabinoids, as they're called, work like neurotransmitters, shuttling messages through the body to help maintain order. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC interact with the endocannabinoid system at two known receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are present throughout the body, but many are in the brain. The CB1 receptors in the brain deal with coordination and movement, pain, emotions, and mood, thinking, appetite, and memories, along with other functions. THC attaches to these receptors. CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. They affect inflammation and pain.  Researchers once believed that CBD attached to these CB2 receptors, but it now appears that CBD does not attach directly to either receptor. Although the exact way CBD affects our bodies is still unknown, scientists think CBD encourages the body to produce more of its own endocannabinoids, which may help reduce anxiety, pain and inflammation.

So why the recent explosion of CBD products on the market? Thanks to the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (also referred to as the U.S. Farm Bill), hemp and hemp extracts are now legal on the federal level, as long as they contain less than the 0.3 percent THC. But CBD products can still be illegal in many cities and states, depending on the local laws.

Technically, the only approved use of CBD by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is for a drug called Epidiolex, which is used to treat seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. In theory, CBD cannot be marketed and sold as a dietary supplement with therapeutic properties without going through the FDA's approval process. However, at this time, the FDA isn't cracking down on those who produce and sell these items.

CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, although there is little research that proves CBD is effective in helping with these conditions.  Despite the lack of research, many dog owners are hoping that CBD can be used to help alleviate the same problems in their furry friends. Analysts predict that the CBD pet care market will reach $135 million by 2022, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of the CBD market. While there’s no definitive scientific data on using CBD to treat dogs, there’s anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggesting it can treat pain and help control seizures.

The American Kennel Club's Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, says that CBD is also used because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, anti-anxiety impact, and for possible anti-cancer benefits, although there’s no conclusive data on this use. There's also no conclusive data on the side effects of CBD use in dogs, although there are potential side effects, based on what we know happens in humans. Those side effects include dry mouth, lowered blood pressure, and drowsiness.

The other big issue pet owners need to be aware of is quality control. Because the CBD market isn't well regulated yet, CBD products can contain ingredients that aren't listed on their labels -- including THC, which is known to be toxic to dogs.  One way to avoid potentially harmful ingredients is to only use products that come with a certificate of analysis, or COA (the batch number on the COA should match the number on the product's label or packaging). A COA is issued when an independent lab tests the product to confirm its ingredients and potency, among other things.  Dr. Klein also recommends that you look for organic CBD oil, or at least check to make sure it does not contain pesticides, fungicides, or solvents. He also recommends buying CBD as a liquid. This will allow you to adjust your dog’s dose drop by drop, rather than administering it in dog treat form..

So should you consider administering CBD to your dog? Dr. Stephanie McGrath, assistant professor of neurology at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has been studying CBD since 2016. She says, “We haven't found anything that's super alarming about CBD. But on the flip side, we still know very little about it and it's really important for owners to know that and use it with caution until we have more information."

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How Did Some Animals Become Associated with Halloween?

Ghosts, goblins and witches - oh my! As we officially move from summer to autumn, our thoughts turn to falling leaves, pumpkin-spiced everything and, of course, Halloween. Halloween is undoubtedly the creepiest holiday of the year, but for many, it's also one of the most fun.

Halloween originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain during which people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon after, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, throwing parties and, of course, dressing up and eating candy.  Because of its traditions in ancient Celtic rituals and folklore, Halloween is seen as a holiday filled with fear, mystery, and magic. There are quite a few animals that have become associated with Halloween, and are perceived as creepy, eerie and spooky. But how did these associations come to be?

catWitches have long been an icon of the Halloween holiday, and what would any witch be without her black cat? Black cats were considered the "familiars" of witches during medieval times - their constant companions, protectors, and assistants in the practice of magic. Witches believed that black cats could help them sense spirits as well. In the West, the color black has often been associated with evil, so a black cat has often been associated with bad luck. And since the black cat is regarded as a form that a witch can transform into, crossing their path is something that should be avoided.

Black cats aren't the only magical creatures to be avoided on Halloween. Although they may not have claws or teeth, toads bring their own level of danger to the party. Sure, some people may consider toads bumpy and ugly, but during the Middle Ages, people who had warts were believed to have touched a toad that had been poisoned by witches. Some species of toads have glands just behind their eyes that, when pressed, will secrete a milky-white substance that can severely harm someone if ingested, which is why toads were used in black magic spells as a poisoning agent (Shakespeare wrote about toads being an ingredient in a witch's spell in Macbeth and As You Like It). Beware the witch's brew that contains toads!

Spiders are the stuff that nightmares are made of, so it's no wonder they are associated with Halloween. With their eight long legs and multiple sets of eyes, just the mere sight of one can induce panic. While some varieties of spider bites can be poisonous, it was once believed that a spider's web-weaving abilities helped witches cast spells. Just the mere fact that spiders can spin fantastic intricate webs seems like a magical power in and of itself.

owlThe fear of being attacked or eaten has long been a fear of many on Halloween, and bats have long been perceived as just the creature to do that. Bats are often seen as scary blood-sucking creatures that only come out at night. It's true - as nocturnal animals, bats do sleep during the day and forage for food when the sun goes down. But many species of bats feed on and help control the insect population, as well as aid in plant pollination. In Halloween's ancient origins, people would gather together around giant bonfires to ward off evil spirits. These fires attracted small flying insects, which are natural food for hungry bats. People saw the bats flickering in and out of the firelight during the festivals and they became a feature of Halloween lore. The discovery of the blood-drinking Vampire Bat in the 17th century by a Spanish exploration of Central and South America further entrenched the bat as a dark creature to be feared, along with stories of the vampire Count Dracula that transformed into a bat in order to fly.

Bats aren't the only flying creatures that have become wrapped up in Halloween traditions. Once synonymous with wisdom in classical Greek times, the owl was revered as one of the symbols of the enlightened state of Athens. But in ancient Rome, it was regarded as a bird of ill omen. By the Middles Ages, the owl had become associated with death. Much like bats, owls are nocturnal animals, and their glowing eyes, silent flight, night hunting, and hooting or screeching like an otherworldly creature can certainly scare the dickens out of almost anyone, even if they are harmless to humans.

So have a fantastic time this Halloween (and go easy on the candy!). And remember that if you see a bat fly by or hear a hooting owl, there's no need to be afraid. These creatures are enjoying an evening out, just like you.

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Celebrate Animals During International Podcast Day

International Podcast Day, a day in which the "power of the podcast" is celebrated, is on Monday, September 30th (#internationalpodcastday).  So what exactly is a podcast? It's a digital audio file made available online for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series. Listeners can usually subscribe to them and have the updates download automatically. Podcasts come in a variety of flavors, covering almost anything you can imagine, from home remodeling to sports to fashion, or even investing. If you have an interest in a topic, there's probably a podcast for it.

According to Wikipedia, podcasting, which was previously known as audioblogging, has its roots dating back to the 1980s. The term podcasting was first suggested by BBC journalist Ben Hammersley in early 2004, and it began to catch on later that year.  Unlike radio programs, which are usually broadcast live, podcasts are pre-recorded and therefore can be edited before airing. Podcasts often have a more niche audience than radio programs.  Today there are more than 115,000 English-language podcasts available on the Internet. According to one survey in 2017, 42 million Americans above the age of 12 listen to podcasts on a weekly basis.

There are a plethora of podcasts geared towards animal lovers on a wide range of topics. If you haven't considered listening to podcasts before, here are 6 that might inspire you.

vetPodcasts can be a great resource for information on pet care. The Pet Doctor with Dr. Bernadine Cruz can help you keep up with the latest information on pet health and wellness. This podcast from Pet Life Radio focuses on all aspects of caring for your pet, whether you have a dog, cat, lizard, bird, or other kind of pet. The guests on each episode are practicing veterinarians who provide tips and information on a variety of topics, including emergency first aid, the best and worst pet foods, medication for your pet, and pet insurance.

Beyond pet care, there are many news-type podcasts that report on animal issues and advocacy. One such podcast is Defender Radio: The Podcast for Wildlife Advocates and Animal Lovers. Award-winning journalist Michael Howie hosts and produces this interview-based podcast with weekly episodes. Michael speaks with advocates, researchers, celebrities, educators, and political movers and shakers to learn about various issues surrounding wildlife, domestic animals, and the environment, including the latest on wildlife and animal research, advocacy, policy, environmental news.

In addition to serving as great ways to get news and information, podcasts can be a lot of fun to listen to. Sometimes a little light-hearted entertainment while you drive to work or relax at home might be just what you need. In Can I Pet Your Dog?, dog owners Renee Colvert and Alexis Preston talk to guests about their dogs, discuss dogs they met this week, and brief you on dog news. They go on assignment to dog events and report back with what you need to know. The pup-centric program also includes Mutt Minute (a deep dive into various breeds) and interviews with writers (like Lin-Manuel Miranda), artists (Lisa Hanawalt), and comedians (Nicole Byer), who dish about the cherished canines in their lives.

Listening to podcasts can be a great alternative source of entertainment for you and your family (put down the screen, kids!). If you have children that would be interested in stories about animals and the people who dedicate their lives to them, then subscribe to Animals to the Max. Hosted by nationally recognized animal expert and biologist Corbin Maxey, who has travelled the world working with reptiles, vultures and everything in between. Each episode features an interview with someone else who is equally passionate and dedicated to helping animals thrive. His guests represent the wide variety of opportunities there are to work with and help wildlife. Most noteworthy, Corbin uses his enthusiasm and charisma to share the many opportunities that are out there to interact and work with animals of all kinds.

owlIf you’re into zoology and want more serious information about the animal world, then Zoo Logic might be right up your alley. Zoo Logic is hosted by animal trainer, zoo advocate, and author, Dr. Grey Stafford. His weekly conversations with zoo, aquarium, and animal experts explore topics such as wildlife, pets, animal training with positive reinforcement, health and welfare, research, conservation, sustainability, zoo politics, activism and legislation, and all things animals. He often takes the listener behind the scenes with animal professionals and influencers from around the world to explore the latest zoo news and issues affecting wildlife.

If you're up for adventure and you love horses, then check out the Whoa! Podcast - The Show About Horses and Horsemanship, hosted by John and Ranae Harrer. This podcast can best be described as all things horse. Each episode is different. John and Ranae often feature an interview with a rancher, rider, author, cowboy, or someone who is prominent in the equestrian world. They also share highlights of their trips to cities (which are most often located in the southern or western United States) that are important in the horseman’s world. They share their favorite places and experiences as well as all the cowboy-esque happenings the area has to offer.

There are hundreds of podcasts out there that cover a wide variety of animal topics. To find more podcasts, follow the hashtag for International Podcast Day (#internationalpodcastday) on your favorite social media channel, or check out this great beginner’s guide to finding and listening to podcasts:

Happy listening!

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