Why Don’t Penguins Feet Freeze?

November 29, 2016 / Animal Factoids / 0 Comments /

Penguins live in some of the coldest environments in the world. Temperatures can get as low as -60 degrees Celsius in Antarctica, which is enough to put off pretty much every animal, except the penguins. Their bodies are well protected with thick blubber and specialised feathers, which help to keep them warm. But penguins feet cannot be covered in feather or blubber (otherwise they wouldn’t be able to walk) and are in constant contact with the frozen surface. Furthermore, penguins feet are similar to other water loving birds like ducks, and have a large surface area. This helps them to swim, but is very bad for conserving heat, and typically would lose lots of heat. Yet the penguins feet do not freeze, and this is because of 3 key adaptations penguins have.

 

Controlling blood flow

This is an adaptation most animals (including humans) have. In cold temperatures blood vessels constrict which reduces blood flow to the extremities of the body, which is where heat is easily lost.

This is because when warm blood from inside the body reaches the extremities the large surface area causes lots of heat to be lost. It then goes back into the core of the body(heart etc) where it needs to be warmed. heat is transferred from the core of the body to the blood, which cools the core, and makes you feel very cold. Blood then goes back out to the extremities, and loses the heat all over again. This can obviously lead to large amounts of heat being lost. In cold conditions, you want to minimise the amount of warmth being lost in the extremities, and a very effective way of doing this is reducing the blood flow to these parts. Enough blood will travel to the extremities to keep them alive, but that’s about it. This is why your hands will look white in cold weather – less blood is being sent to them

 

Countercurrent heat exchange

This adaptation is not as common as the previous, but many birds do share this. At the top of penguins legs are a complex of arteries and veins. The arteries are carrying warm blood to the feet, and the veins are counter-current-heat-exchange-penguincarrying very cold blood away. As already mentioned, you do not want cold blood in the body, or warm blood in the feet because this causes lots of precious heat to be lost. This complex of veins and arteries at the top of the leg transfers all the heat from the outgoing arteries to the incoming blood in the veins, and takes in all the cold of the incoming veins to the outgoing arteries (as shown in the image on the right from Biology Pages).

This minimises heat loss through the extremities because it keeps the heat exchange inside the body, rather than outside.

 

Penguin Chemistry

This final adaptation is very impressive, and something that very very few animals have. When oxygen binds to hemoglobin it gives out heat (exothermic reaction), and when is unbinds, it requires heat (endothermic reaction). If the conditions of the unbinding are different to the binding (pH etc) it can result in a net loss or even gain of energy (or heat) in parts of the body. The difference in energy between binding and unbinding is called ΔH, and compared to humans, penguins have a very modest ΔH, which means loss of energy is minimal. Furthermore, low temperatures prevent unbinding (requiring heat) of oxygen, so in parts of the body which are cold this reaction (heat taking) wouldn’t occur. This prevents heat loss from the feet, where it is the most important.

Some animals have taken this mechanism even further. Tuna have the right conditions in their body to raise their body temperature 17 degrees celsius about their surroundings!

All these adaptations carefully keep the penguins feet just above freezing (1-2 degrees celsius), which prevents their feet freezing, and minimises energy/ heat loss.

 

Summary

Despite terribly cold conditions, penguins have 3 very important adaptations which prevent their feet freezing. The first is the ability to limit the amount of blood that goes to the feet – providing just enough to keep the feet alive and unfrozen. The second is due to a countercurrent heat exchange at the top of the penguins legs, which ensures cold blood going into the body from the feet is warmed, and blood going to the feet is cooled. The third is a cleaver the ability to regulate the exothermic and endothermic reactions of oxygen binding to heamoglobin, which minimises heat being taken from extremities like the feet.

Image courtesy of StormPetrel1

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Penguins can control the amount of blood that goes into their feet, and how much it gets heated. But most interestingly, penguins can conserve heat in their feet by controlling the amount of exotherminc reactions (giving out heat) and endothermic reactions (requiring heat) that take place.


What Came First – Chicken or Egg?

October 25, 2015 / Animal Factoids, Paradox / 0 Comments /
header image of a chicken

It is an age old puzzle – a chicken must have come from an egg, but, for an egg to exist, a chicken must have laid it, so which came first? Neither seems be be able to exist without the other before it, but we know that at some point in time one must have come first as part of the natural order of things. So, lets look at the different ways to approach the question.

 

Clarification

First of all, the question needs to be clarified, because eggs have been laid for many many of years before chickens existed. We know that most dinosaurs laid eggs, and so if you are asking which came first a generic egg, or a chicken, the answer is very obviously the egg.

However, most people understand the question to be which a chicken egg and a chicken, and so this is what we will look at here.

 

Approach 1 – what is a chicken egg?

A chicken egg can be defined as 1 of three:

  • An egg laid by a chicken
  • An egg containing a chicken
  • An egg laid by a chicken which also contains a chicken

However, most people will agree that a chicken egg would be an egg laid by a chicken. If you can imagine going to buy some eggs from the supermarket, all the eggs are called chicken eggs because they are laid by a chicken, regardless of what genetic alterations there may have been to the embryo inside the egg. Imagine if a chicken laid an egg that contained pigeon, you would still call the egg a chicken egg, but the offspring would be a pigeon.

Following this approach then, a pseudo- chicken (something similar to a chicken, but not quite a chicken) must have laid a pseudo-chicken egg, which contained the genetically altered pseudo-chicken, that we all call a chicken. This chicken then went on to lay chicken eggs, and so the chicken came first.

Granted, this is open to interpretation. If you define a chicken egg as an egg which contains a chicken, then the egg must have come first, so lets look at the science.

 

Approach 2 – Science

Research have identified a protein in a chicken egg shell called OC-17 which is critical to the egg forming process, and can only be made chicken ovaries. So even if an egg laid by a pseudo-chicken contains a chicken, it is still a pseudo-chicken egg, because a chicken egg contains the OC-17 protein, which can only be made is a chicken’s ovaries.  With this in mind a chicken egg cannot have been layen without a chicken, and so again, the chicken must have come first.

 

Approach 3 – Apply it to another situation

I would say this approach isn’t very accurate than the above approaches, but it can sometimes be useful to approach the problem from a different angle.

You can also apply this question to humans, because we humans also produce eggs (they just aren’t laid), and you could ask “what came first, a human, or a human egg“. In this scenario, you would have a pseudo-human with a egg in their ovaries, which is fertilised by a pseudo-human sperm. It is possible that the genetic material needed to create a human is in the sperm, and the egg is 100% perfect pseudo-human genes, which makes the egg beyond doubt a pseudo-human egg. Only once the egg is fertilised is the human created, at which point it is an embryo, not an egg. By this logic, the human came first, not the egg, and so if we apply the conclusion back into the original question, we get the same answer – the chicken came first.

 

Conclusion

When approaching the puzzle logically and scientifically, the conclusions are the same – the chicken must have come first, because a chicken egg cannot be created without a chicken, but a chicken can be created by genetic mutations from a pseudo-chicken.

Image courtesy of Rob and Stephanie Levy

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Due to genetic research, it would apear that the chicken had to come first, in order for a chicken egg to be layed. The chicken came from a pseudo-chicken type creatures egg.


Why Don’t any Animals Have Green Fur?

September 29, 2015 / Animal Factoids / 0 Comments /
Header image for article

If you think about it, green is a pretty damn good colour to be if you are an animal. Whether you are prey or predator, being green will let you hide perfectly amongst lush green undergrowth – letting you pounce out at your unsuspecting prey, or effortlessly evade a predator. Despite this, there are no animals with green fur! You would have thought that one would have evolved some green pigment to help them survive, but they haven’t, and I’ll try and explain why here.

 

Green is difficult

Despite green being everywhere, there is only really one molecule which is green, and that is chlorophyll. Green is everywhere because plants produce it, but in reality, it is very rare, and this is because the colour green is very difficult to create naturally.

Even frogs are not actually green. Frogs are actually a complicated structure of blue and yellow cells. They contain special cells which contain purine crystals, which reflect blue light. Above these crystal containing cells are cells which contain a yellow pigment. As the blue light reflects through the yellow pigments all colours are filtered out except green.

This rather complex arrangements of specialised cells is how most fish and other amphibians look green, and this goes to show just how difficult and unusual it is for nature to produce a green pigment.

 

Most animals can’t see green

Humans and other primates are quite unique in their ability to differentiate between green and red. Most mammals and other animals are colour blind, and some (mainly nocturnal animals) cannot see any colour at all.

Below is an example of how most animals will see colours. Greens and red all are seen quite similarly as different shade of beige/ brown.

 

Comparison of primate colour vision and what most other animals see

Interestingly, most animal coats are usually a brown/ red colour. To us, this would stand out if they were hiding in some long grass, but to most predators/ prey, its is pretty well camouflaged. in fact,Project Nightjar has only identified 2 predators which are trichromatic (able to differentiate between red and green), and one of those predators is humans!

 

Green Sloths

Sloths can sometimes appear to be green, and this is caused by an algae which grows on their fur. This not only demonstrates a unique and creative way to develop green fur for camouflage, but also shows just how difficult it is to produce a green pigment in nature.

 

Summary

Green fur seems a logical camouflage to you and me, particularly because there is so much green foliage. However, the green pigment is very unique to the molecule chlorophyll, and almost never found in any other form throughout nature. Even frogs are not truly green.

The difficulty to produce ‘green’ is of little consequence to the natural world though. Most animals are red-green colour blind, and see most colours as a different shade of beige/ brown. This offers no significant advantage to being green, as seeing as beige/ brown / red colours are ‘easier’ to make in nature, most animal have evolved with this kind of colouring instead.

Image courtesy of Shandi-lee Cox

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Most predators are red-green colour blind, and so there is no advantage to being green over brown, because they are seen the same. Green is also a very rare pigment in nature, suggesting that the chances of an animal evolving such a pigment is very low.


Why do Cats Purr?

June 26, 2015 / Animal Factoids / 0 Comments /
Picture of a happy cat purring

I’ve had cats all my life, and always wondered why they purr. I have always assumed it was to do with their happiness, and the louder they purred the happier they were, although I have noticed that when cats are at their happiest, they are not necessarily purring. To quench my years of wondering why cats purr, I decided to research it, and so here, I’ll explain what I have found.

 

Purr for happiness

We know that cats learn to purr at a very young age, and it is possibly a bonding mechanism kittens use to communicate with their mothers. It has been suggested that it lets the mother know that they are ok, and nothing is wrong. The purring carries on into their adult life perhaps out of habit, or to communicate to their owners that they are ok (after all, pet owners and their pets have a similar relationship to mother and young child). but this is just speculation.

Still, there is little doubt that cats will often purr to show that they are happy and content. The loudest purr I’ve heard come from a cat is when it is eating its favorite food – which suggests it displays some enjoyment. This is no surprise.

 

Purr for healing

I saw a very sick cat purring once when I was young, and was very confused until I did some reading on it. It appears that cats are exceptional healers, and that this is thought to be a result of their purr. Cats have a much lower post-operative complications than dogs do, and have a very low incidence of bone disease.

How can purring heal?? Well, there is some evidence that purring can help healing, particularly with regards to bone health. A domestic cat will purr between 20Hz and 30Hz (in fact, any cats such as cheetahs which purr, purr in this frequency range). Research published in 2001 showed that exposing bones to vibrations of this frequency for 20mins a day increased bone strength.

In addition to this, vibrational therapy has been used in sports medicine for a number of years to help strengthen tendons, muscles and improve recovery; so it certainly isn’t unreasonable to think that a cats purr is a natural stimulation for bone health and muscle conditioning.

Considering cats will be constantly climbing and jumping large distances for an animal of their size, they will need very strong muscles and bones to avoid damage, so a purr may be something they evolved to do to condition/ strengthen their bones.

Either way, the healing and strengthening properties of the cats purr cannot be ignored, and is a very unique evolutionary adaptation to an agile lifestyle.

Purr for communication

You may not realise it, but cats do have different purrs which they use to communicate with humans. Research conducted in the  University of Sussex has shown that cats will produce a different purr around feeding time to encourage humans to give them food. In fact, people who don’t own cats were able to detect a bit of urgency to this particular type of purr, and they wouldn’t have heard it at feeding time before.

 

Summary – why cats purr

Although there is some uncertainty for the exact reason for the purr, there is some interesting research into it.

As many people know, the cats purr signals happiness and content. It is understandable that they purr for communication both to their owners and other cats, but the most interesting aspect of the purr is its healing properties. No other animal has developed this special method for conditioning their muscles and bones, and it is possibly the most fascinating aspect of the cats purr!

Images courtesy of Trish Hamme and Akimasa Harada

This Youtube video will give an overview of the information found on the article tab. If you want to know more about the topic, or want to see where the information came from, have a read of the article after you watch the video.

Cats purr to communicate (mainly to show content/ happiness, but also for food and possibly other reasons). The vibrations also help to strengthen bones and muscles.


Do We Eat Spiders in Our Sleep?

image for the article 'do we eat spiders in our sleep'.

You may have heard from a friend or colleague that we eat spiders in our sleep. I’ve even heard it said that you can eat up to 8 a night (but generally its 8 a year). It is a common urban legend, so here, I’ll investigate the possibility of eating spiders, and see if there is any truth behind it.

 

Spider Science

Spiders are extremely well adapted to survival, and it is no wonder that they have thrived in almost every corner of the world. Along the legs of spiders are chemoreceptors1 , which to you and me, is something similar to a nose. These chemoreceptors on the legs of spiders can sense a number of chemicals, and are there to avoid predators, and to seek out prey.

If a spider was to come close to a human mouth it would sense the many 1000’s of different chemicals in their breath. From the toothpaste, to the evening meal and even the carbon dioxide we breath out. A spider would be able to tell that a massive and dangerous mouth is nearby, and it would move in the opposite direction.

 

Unlikely odds

When people hear that they eat spiders in their sleep, they often imagine a tiny spider dangling on a web down into your gaping mouth by accident. However, this isn’t likely to be the case. Most people will instinctively sleep on their side or their front, not their back, which means that a spider must actively crawl into your mouth. based on their highly sensitive chemoreceptors (and not to mention their eyesight) its very unlikely that they will ever crawl into a mouth.

Furthermore, when you are asleep, your mouth is far from being gaping. In fact, your mouth rarely opens more than 25% of its full open position, which means the gap for a spider to ‘accidentally’ fall into, or even crawl into, is quite small. This makes it very unlikely that a spider would end up in your mouth.

 

Near impossible to measure

Aside from the above 2 points, which make the chances of a spider going into your mouth extremely small, how would we ever measure this? Think about it – how (and why) would researchers go about counting how many spiders people eat in their sleep in a year. They would have to carefully watch or film someone sleeping for a year, and count how many spiders go in their mouth. Ideally, this would have to be done for a large population size to minimise the risk of chance, and different sleeping locations (e.g in the country and in the city).

This would take a massive amount of time and money, and frankly, no one in their right mind would do it.

 

Summary

The chances of eating spiders in our sleep is extremely slim due to the spiders ability to detect/ avoid us, and the difficulty in getting into our mouths in the first place. The myth that we eat 8 spiders a year is nothing more than a myth, simply because testing for it is too difficult, and pointless.

So, you can sleep safe in the knowledge that you won’t be eating any spiders tonight (or rather, the changes of eating spiders is very very low).

 

References

1. Encyclopedia of Entomology, Volume 4, By John L. Capiner

Image courtesy of  Martin Cooper

 

This Youtube video will give an overview of the information found on the article tab. If you want to know more about the topic, or want to see where the information came from, have a read of the article after you watch the video.

No one knows for sure, but the chances of you eating any spiders in your sleep are extremely low.


Why do Dogs like to Play Fetch?

May 17, 2015 / Animal Factoids / 0 Comments /
A picture of a dog playing fetch with a ball. This is supporting media for the article 'why do dogs like to play fetch'.

It’s a strange notion, playing fetch. Why on Earth would any animal (especially one as clever as a dog) so desperately want to have a stick or ball thrown for them to chase and bring back, only to repeat the process again and again. There doesn’t seem to be any reason behind it, yet dogs LOVE to play fetch…

There are actually a couple of reasons why they would enjoy this seemingly mindless activity, which when combined, may make them love it. So here is why dogs like to play fetch:

 

1. Evolution

Dogs truly are mans best friend, and were first domesticated about 15,000 years ago. At this point dogs were not what we think of them as today – they were little more than wolves. Their role as domesticated animals was toto guard, and to assist with hunting (either by killing animals, or more likely by bringing the animal back). 


15,000 years ago a fundamental part of the relationship between man and dog was for the dog to bring things to the man. For several thousand years, a dog’s ability to ‘fetch’ would have been a deciding factor in whether it was kept, domesticated and bred, or not, and so this desire to bring things to humans has been bred into modern dogs over many many years.

 

2. Exercise

Dogs enjoy exercise! It might sound strange to some, but those who have experienced a ‘runner’s high’ might be able to relate a bit more. Dogs, and humans release neurotransmitters that play a major role in stimulating reward regions in the brain during and after exercising. Nothing releases these neurotransmitters more than a super fast sprint, which makes it all that much more enjoyable.

Its just so happens that the activity which releases these neurotransmitters plays on their primal instincts to ‘fetch’ for their human counterpart.

 

3. Dogs like attention

Dog getting attention for playing fetch - one of the reasons dogs enjoy playing fetch.Dogs have exhibited jealousy and attention seeking behaviour similar to that of children – and they enjoy being the centre of attention to people. Playing ‘fetch’ with a dog often come alongside praise and attention from their owner which they enjoy. Just think back to the last time you played fetch with a dog, no doubt when the dog ‘fetched’ the ball/ stick you stroked it and probably repeatedly said ‘good boy/girl!’. You gave it undivided attention, which no doubt it enjoyed.

If repeatedly bringing back a stick resulted in undivided attention from a loved one, I’m sure more than just dogs would play fetch.

 

4. We train them to do it!

Its probably the very first trick you teach a dog aside from not going to the toilet inside. Dogs may have a primal affinity to playing ‘fetch’, which makes it an easy trick to learn, but most dogs don’t pick it up straight away. They sometimes get the object then go off by themselves to chew it (which hunter-gatherer would not like!). It takes a bit of teaching for the dog to actually get the stick, bring it back, and drop it at your feet.

Summary – why dogs like to play fetch

Dogs are programmed to want to fetch, its been bred into them for thousands of years, and this is probably why they quickly catch on to playing fetch today. In addition to this, the sprinting part of the game releases chemicals in the brain which trigger reward centers in the brain, which makes them enjoy playing fetch. You then have the dog’s desire for attention from their, which they get when they play fetch, which further reinforces their enjoyment of the game.

Images courtesy of Anne Marie and Sonia Modeo

This Youtube video will give an overview of the information found on the article tab. If you want to know more about the topic, or want to see where the information came from, have a read of the article after you watch the video.

Dogs like to play fetch because its been bread into them, they get a ‘runner’s high’, they get attention from their owner, and lastly, because its the first thing their owner will teach them!


Why Can’t Dogs Eat Chocolate?

April 27, 2015 / Animal Factoids / 0 Comments /
Supporting image for an article on why dogs can't eat chocolate

You are always told that dogs can’t eat chocolate, and the reason for this is simply because it contains a poisonous plant chemical called theobrominewhich is naturally found in cocoa. Theobromine is structurally similar to caffeine, and has similar stimulating (and toxic) effects in the body when consumed. It is this chemical which makes chocolate poisonous to dogs and other animals.

 

Why is Theobromine so toxic to dogs?

Really, this is the question people should be asking. Theobromine, is chemically similar to all other plant alkaloids, which animals and humans consume all the time with no ill effects. Just think – when was the last time you ate some chocolate – did you feel ill at all?

All plant alkaloids, including theobromine and caffeine, are toxic in the right (or rather, the wrong) dosage. However, dogs are particularly susceptible to theobromine toxicity – but why?.

The answer lies in the dogs metabolism of alkaloids. Humans can metabolise compounds like theobromine pretty quickly and efficiently The half life of theobromine in humans is  2-3 hours, and this means that if you consume 100mg of theobromine, in 2-3 hours, your liver will have metabolised half of it, and so only 50mg will be left in your body. The risk of toxicity from theobromine is so low in humans that there are no health warnings for theobromine consumption from bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The toxic dosage for humans is thought to be in excess of 1000mg per kg of body weight, which would be about a kilo of dark chocolate per kg body weight. As delicious as dark chocolate is, there is very little risk of someone eating 60+ kilos of dark chocolate and getting ill from theobromine (especially considering how fast our body metabolises it).

The half-life of theobromine in dogs on the other hand is 18 hours.This indicates a very poor ability to metabolise and break down theobromine in the liver of dogs, making the toxic dosage much lower than that humans.

Dogs typically don’t have many plants in their diet, and so their inability to metabolise these plant chemicals may be simply due to a lack of need throughout their evolution. Whereas humans have a more varied diet, higher in plants, and so are much better adapt at metabolising these chemicals.

This poor ability to metabolise theobromine effectively makes the lethal dosage for dogs around 250-500mg per kg of body weight. This is still relatively hard to achieve, but this is the fatal level, and dogs will show the symptoms of theobromine toxicity at a much lower dosage. Small dogs, such as a pug, can suffer from vomiting from as little as 5mg/ kg body weight, which is only 20-30g of dark chocolate.

 

Can cats eat chocolate?

Cats are even more susceptible to the toxic effects of theobromine than dogs (toxic at 200mg/kg), but you don’t often hear the risk it poses to cats. The reason for this is simply how each animal behaves.

Dogs will eat anything they get their jaws on – I’ve known dogs to eat a whole loaf of bread just because it can reach it on the kitchen surfaces! Cats however, take a much cooler approach to food – they will lick things, and nibble, but are much fussier, and less greedy.

So the canine downfall is its appetite and weak metabolism of plant chemicals.Not to worry though, all this means for you is keep your chocolate out of reach of animals and everyone will be happier!

This Youtube video will give an overview of the information found on the article tab. If you want to know more about the topic, or want to see where the information came from, have a read of the article after you watch the video.

Dogs can’t eat chocolate because it contains a chemical called theobromine in, which is toxic to dogs.


Why do Dogs Eat Dirt?

January 20, 2015 / Animal Factoids / 0 Comments /
Dog eating dirt

Dogs will eat dirt (also known as pica) for a number of reasons, and they aren’t all that bad (although they do all suggest the dog isn’t quite happy). Here are the 4 main reasons that your dog will eat dirt:

1. Nutrition

Obviously, dogs are animals. Before domestication they were quite able to survive by themselves, and simply survived by just following their instincts, which are a result of many years of selective evolution One of these these instincts is to eat dirt when they are lacking certain minerals. This may seem odd, but the soil is full of minerals, and so actually makes quite good sense – good old evolution. There are problems with eating soil though (see below) so you need to address this problem.

What to do: Compare the nutritional profile of the dog food you are using with other (more premium) brands. Perhaps the one you are feeding them isn’t quite up to scratch. Research the specific nutritional needs of your specific dog. A Jack Russell, for example, will have different nutrition requirements to a German Shepard. It may be worth talking to a vet about it if you aren’t sure.

2. Worms (and other parasites)!

Dogs might eat dirt because they have worms or parasites!

Yes, various parasites make for some strange behaviour in animals. They can turn ants into zombies, cause rats to stop being scared of cats, cause fish to reveal themselves to predatory birds, and yes, they can cause dogs to eat dirt. The reason for all this odd behaviour is usually to help the parasite progress through infancy through maturity and help reinfect the animal. Long story short, eating the dog could have eaten something on the floor which had a parasite, and the parasite is causing the continued behaviour.

What to do: When was the last time you had your dog wormed? The most common parasite which causes dogs to eat dirt is the hookworm, so its a good idea to treat the dog for worms, and see if it stops the behaviour.

4.Liver, Kidney, Central nervous system (CNS) diseases

Why a dog eats dirt because its kidneys are not working properly is beyond me. Perhaps it is linked to the nutrition, or the possibility of a parasite. In any case, dogs have been known to eat dirt when they have a serious disease, such as a liver, kidney or CNS disease.


What to do: Look out for other signs of illness. Is the dog being sick, not eating food, acting out of the ordinary (aside from dirt eating). If the dog is otherwise quite happy and healthy, it may not be this cause, but it to be on the safe side, it might be a good idea to take it to the vet.

 

3. Obsessive-compulsive/ Depression/ BoredomDogs can eat dirt because they suffer from obsessive compulsive behaviour.

Yes, dogs, like humans can suffer from behavioural problems. Dogs can suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorders which can manifest themselves as over grooming or eating dirt. They can also suffer from depression, and can even suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the same way humans can. Dogs can even get bored, and in the same way a bored child will play with electricity sockets and eat worms when they are bored, dogs will eat dirt.

What to do: With obsessive-compulsive disorder, you can try and train it out of them. Go on walk with the dog on a lead to prevent them from eating dirt, and if they do eat dirt have a water sprayer handle to gently spray their face with cold water (you don’t want to hurt them, just teach them).

If the cause is depression, the vet may prescribe anti-depressants, but this isn’t a great way to go. You could always try and cheer your dog up!

If its boredom, then simply pay the dog more attention, get it a new toy and go form more walks.

 

Is dirt eating bad for dogs?

This is a good question, it could provide nutrition, but sadly, it can also cause infection, damage teeth, and if they swallow something nasty, they could have digestive issues. I’ve heard some horrible stories about dogs eating plastic bags, or even just bubble gum. So yes, generally speaking it is bad for dogs to eat dirt. It is a sign that there is a problem, which could be as simple as needing a new brand of food for them, but could equally be something more serious.

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Dogs might eat dirt because they are under nourished, have a parasite infection, suffer from a disease, or have behavioural problems. It is worth trying to identify the exact cause, because it could be an indication of serious illness.