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The latest news on Pets from Business Insider

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    Business Insider spoke with John Bradshaw, anthrozoologist and author of "The Animals Among Us," about why dogs are far more responsive to humans than cats are.

    Bradshaw said: "Cats are somewhat less responsive than dogs to their owners. There are obviously exceptions there are very responsive cats but this essentially stems back to their evolutionary lineage."

    "Dogs are descended from wolves which are very social animals so right from the word go, they’ve had a basis for understanding the body language of the animals around them, whether the animals around them are other dogs or indeed whether they’re humans."

    "Cats had a different starting point they were originally solitary predators and they only really became sociable with one another probably during domestication, so perhaps only 5,000 years ago or something. So they have much less of an evolutionary basis for understanding our body language, for understanding our intentions and so on."

    You can find out more about John Bradshaw's book here.

    Produced and filmed by Jasper Pickering. Research by Fraser Moore

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Business Insider spoke with John Bradshaw, anthrozoologist and author of "The Animals Among Us," about how humans are breeding cats and dogs to look like babies and how it is making them suffer.

    Mr Bradshaw said; "The human response to cuteness is something which has evolved as a way of making sure that we look after our own babies, but our species is unique in that our response to cuteness extends to other species as well."

    "But it looks as though our response to pets and particularly to young animals like puppies and kittens has hijacked on the back of our response to our own infants."

    "One of the trends we’re seeing in pet keeping over the past couple of decades is the increasing popularity of very small dogs and also dogs and cats with very squashed faces. Now all of those are characteristics which are also characteristics of infants."

    "We have dogs, for example, pugs that have some of the characteristics of human infants, Chihuahuas have very short legs and are very playful, so although their faces are quite different they still respond to our “cute button” if you like, and there is also a fashion for flat-faced cats as well and all of those present welfare problems."

    "The dog skeleton is not sufficiently evolved to cope with being squashed into these strange shapes and come to that, nor is the cat skeleton."

    "So in particular, animals such as pugs and Persian cats with squashed faces have considerable breathing difficulties particularly as they get older."

    "And so although these animals have tremendous appeal to the first time purchaser, those people who get those animals find as the dog gets older or the cat gets older, they’re faced with a lot of vetinary bills to get these put right and of course along the way, the animal is suffering."

    You can find out more about John Bradshaw's book here.

    Produced and filmed by Jasper Pickering. Research by Fraser Moore


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Business Insider spoke with John Bradshaw, anthrozoologist and author of "The Animals Among Us," about how much dogs understand when you communicate with them.

    Mr Bradshaw said; "Dogs are very responsive to the way that we talk to them and it tricks many owners into thinking they literally understand every word."

    "The science suggests that dogs don’t really understand the words, they understand sounds and so you can train them to do all sorts of things based on things you say."

    "But what they don’t really seem to understand is syntax, sentences, grammar, the way that we put words together in different orders to mean different things. To dogs, it’s just a string of sounds."

    "We don’t believe that these animals are actually understanding every word. What they are doing and particularly what dogs are very good at is responding to emotion through the tone of voice that we’re using and they learn to respond in very specific ways to their owners so the owners really can believe and it’s almost true that the dog is responding to every word they say."

    You can find out more about John Bradshaw's book here.

    Produced and filmed by Jasper Pickering. Research by Fraser Moore


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    A dog from South Dakota, US, has been declared the world record holder for having the longest tongue on a dog.

    Mochi "Mo" Rickert, an 8-year-old St Bernard from Sioux Falls, has a tongue measuring a whopping 18.58 cm (7.31 in), Guinness World Records said in a press release.

    Mo smashes the previous record held by a Pekingese named Puggy whose tongue measured 11.43 cm (4.5 in).

    "Mochi is a rescued St Bernard and we have had her for about six and a half years and her tongue measures from snout to tip about 7.3 inches," said owner Carla Rickert.

    Produced by Claudia Romeo

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    japan dog pets

    The recent popularity of “designer” dogs, cats, micro-pigs and other pets may seem to suggest that pet keeping is no more than a fad. Indeed, it is often assumed that pets are a Western affectation, a weird relic of the working animals kept by communities of the past.

    About half of the households in Britain alone include some kind of pet; roughly 10m of those are dogs while cats make up another 10m. Pets cost time and money, and nowadays bring little in the way of material benefits. But during the 2008 financial crisis, spending on pets remained almost unaffected, which suggests that for most owners pets are not a luxury but an integral and deeply loved part of the family.

    Some people are into pets, however, while others simply aren’t interested. Why is this the case? It is highly probable that our desire for the company of animals actually goes back tens of thousands of years and has played an important part in our evolution. If so, then genetics might help explain why a love of animals is something some people just don’t get.

    The health question

    In recent times, much attention has been devoted to the notion that keeping a dog (or possibly a cat) can benefit the owner’s health in multiple ways – reducing the risk of heart disease, combating loneliness, and alleviating depression and the symptoms of depression and dementia.

    As I explore in my new book, there are two problems with these claims. First, there are a similar number of studies that suggest that pets have no or even a slight negative impact on health. Second, pet owners don’t live any longer than those who have never entertained the idea of having an animal about the house, which they should if the claims were true. And even if they were real, these supposed health benefits only apply to today’s stressed urbanites, not their hunter-gatherer ancestors, so they cannot be considered as the reason that we began keeping pets in the first place.

    The urge to bring animals into our homes is so widespread that it’s tempting to think of it as a universal feature of human nature, but not all societies have a tradition of pet-keeping. Even in the West there are plenty of people who feel no particular affinity for animals, whether pets or no.

    The pet-keeping habit often runs in families: this was once ascribed to children coming to imitate their parents’ lifestyles when they leave home, but recent research has suggested that it also has a genetic basis. Some people, whatever their upbringing, seem predisposed to seek out the company of animals, others less so.

    So the genes that promote pet-keeping may be unique to humans, but they are not universal, suggesting that in the past some societies or individuals – but not all – thrived due to an instinctive rapport with animals.

    holding kitten

    Pet DNA

    The DNA of today’s domesticated animals reveals that each species separated from its wild counterpart between 15,000 and 5,000 years ago, in the late Palaeolithic and Neolithic periods. Yes, this was also when we started breeding livestock. But it is not easy to see how this could have been achieved if those first dogs, cats, cattle and pigs were treated as mere commodities.

    If this were so, the technologies available would have been inadequate to prevent unwanted interbreeding of domestic and wild stock, which in the early stages would have had ready access to one another, endlessly diluting the genes for “tameness” and thus slowing further domestication to a crawl – or even reversing it. Also, periods of famine would also have encouraged the slaughter of the breeding stock, locally wiping out the “tame” genes entirely.

    But if at least some of these early domestic animals had been treated as pets, physical containment within human habitations would have prevented wild males from having their way with domesticated females; special social status, as afforded to some extant hunter-gatherer pets, would have inhibited their consumption as food. Kept isolated in these ways, the new semi-domesticated animals would have been able to evolve away from their ancestors’ wild ways, and become the pliable beasts we know today.

    cat cafeThe very same genes which today predispose some people to take on their first cat or dog would have spread among those early farmers. Groups which included people with empathy for animals and an understanding of animal husbandry would have flourished at the expense of those without, who would have had to continue to rely on hunting to obtain meat. Why doesn’t everyone feel the same way? Probably because at some point in history the alternative strategies of stealing domestic animals or enslaving their human carers became viable.

    There’s a final twist to this story: recent studies have shown that affection for pets goes hand-in-hand with concern for the natural world. It seems that people can be roughly divided into those that feel little affinity for animals or the environment, and those who are predisposed to delight in both, adopting pet-keeping as one of the few available outlets in today’s urbanized society.

    As such, pets may help us to reconnect with the world of nature from which we evolved.

    SEE ALSO: Nearly every president kept a pet in the White House — here's a look at all of America's first pets

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Animated map shows how cats spread across the world

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    salt fish tank 4x3

    The Insider Pick:

    • Cultivating a saltwater aquarium is a fun challenge with the right kit. The Fluval Reef Aquarium and Cabinet Set is everything a saltwater aquarium hobbyist could hope for because it's a comprehensive kit that covers all the bases.

    Saltwater fish, particularly reef-dwelling species, are not only some of the most vibrant species in the aquarium hobbyist world, they are also some of the most colorful animals in the world. This being the case, it is no wonder that saltwater aquariums are so popular. What many people do not realize, however, is that cultivating a thriving marine tank is quite a challenge. Not only do you need specific equipment to keep the tank running, but you must also maintain a delicate balance of pH, salinity, and other water parameters for your tank inhabitants to flourish.

    Though a saltwater aquarium does come with its challenges, it is also incredibly rewarding. Nothing is more beautiful or awe-inspiring than a thriving aquatic ecosystem in miniature, right there in your living room. Whether you’re thinking about starting your first saltwater tank or upgrading to a new system, we’ve scoured the reviews to bring you our top picks for the best saltwater aquarium kits. Keep reading to see which saltwater aquarium kit is best for you.

    Although the Fluval Reef Aquarium and Cabinet Set is our top pick, for the reasons laid out in the slides below, you should also consider the Fluval Sea EVO Marine Aquarium Kit, the Coralife LED BioCube Starter Kit, the Innovative Marine NUVO Fusion Aquarium, and the SCA 50-Gallon Starfire Aquarium.

    SEE ALSO: The best fish tanks for beginners

    The best saltwater aquarium overall

    Why you'll love it: The Fluval Reef Aquarium and Cabinet Set makes it easy to set up and maintain a thriving reef tank. 

    A lot of research and planning goes into creating the ultimate saltwater tank setup. You need a high-quality filtration system powerful enough to accommodate your tank capacity as well as a heating system to maintain a stable tank temperature. Lighting should be customized to your tank inhabitants but should provide illumination without producing so much heat that your tank overheats. 

    The perfect saltwater aquarium would include all of these components and more, making your job as easy as assembling the equipment and adding salt and water. That’s exactly what the Fluval Reef Aquarium and Cabinet Set does.

    Available in three sizes ranging from 14 to 36 gallons, this aquarium kit comes with everything you need to cultivate and maintain a thriving reef environment. The tank itself is designed with clean lines and the sleek, modern cabinet gives it a contemporary finish. The kit includes an integrated filter and protein skimmer, as well as the adjustable Fluval Sea Marine & Reef Performance LED lighting system for powerful day and night illumination.

    A detailed review from Practical Fishkeeping describes this reef tank setup as an “attractive, compact and well-built aquarium” with quality equipment. The reviewer especially liked the integrated drain feature that makes water changes a breeze but said that the cabinet could be designed better for electric access.

    Buyer reviews on Drs. Foster and Smith note that a heater is not included and that the protein skimmer does make some noise. Overall, however, customers seem pleased with the product.

    Pros: High-quality, contemporary design, includes all of the equipment you need in a durable aquarium cabinet, LED lighting system, reef tank environment, drain valve makes water changes easy, glass aquarium has a frosted rim to disguise water lines, submersible heater and circulation pump included with some sizes

    Cons: Not available in sizes over 50 gallons, cabinet could be designed better for electric access, clips holding the protein skimmer may become brittle with time, some assembly required, some sizes don’t come with a heater

    Buy the 14-gallon Fluval Reef Aquarium and Cabinet Set from Petco for $474.99

    Buy the 24-gallon Fluval Reef Aquarium and Cabinet Set from Petco for $566.99

    Buy the 34-gallon Fluval Reef Aquarium and Cabinet Set from Petco for $733.29

    The best mini reef tank

    Why you'll love it: Designed specifically to support coral life, the Fluval Sea EVO Marine Aquarium Kit comes with a high-output LED lighting system and three-stage filtration. 

    Cultivating a saltwater aquarium with fish and live rock is fairly straightforward, but a reef tank comes with an entirely separate set of challenges – especially if you’re also going for a miniature tank. In order to keep corals alive, you have to strike the right balance with tank lighting, water circulation, and water chemistry. If you have never tried your hand at a reef tank but you have some experience with saltwater aquariums, a comprehensive reef tank kit like the Fluval Sea EVO Marine Aquarium Kit is a good idea.

    Equipped with a 14,000°K high-output LED system, the Fluval Sea EVO Marine Aquarium Kit is designed to support corals. This lighting system offers convenient day/night illumination and it is housed in a sleek, aluminum casing. The three-stage filtration system features BioMax filter media for optimal mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. You’ll also receive a circulation pump with an output nozzle, a safe low-voltage transformer, and a cover for the aquarium. Adding salt water, fish, and corals is up to you.

    A review from Fishtank Advisor describes this reef tank setup as a “complete ready-to-go reef aquarium system. The reviewer also makes note of the three-stage filtration system and the powerful 132gph submersible pump that is hidden behind the integrated filtration system.

    Customer reviews on Drs. Foster and Smith note that it is easy to assemble and provides good value, though some say the lighting system could be better and the tank doesn’t come with a protein skimmer.

    Pros: High-quality, contemporary design, includes all of the equipment, high-output LED for healthy coral growth, day and night lighting system, three-stage filtration system, circulation pump with output nozzle

    Cons: Small size may be a challenge to maintain, doesn’t come with a protein skimmer, limited size may make it difficult to replace/upgrade the equipment, LED lighting has no timer

    Buy the Fluval Sea EVO Marine Aquarium Kit on Amazon for $147.73 (originally $174.99)

    The best nano reef tank

    Why you'll love it: With its sleek, modern design and integrated filtration, the Coralife LED BioCube Starter Kit is the ultimate nano reef tank.

    Though there is no strict definition for the term “nano tank,” it generally refers to a small tank with a total tank capacity below 20 gallons. While you might assume that a smaller tank is easier to maintain than a larger one, the opposite is, in fact, true, especially when it comes to saltwater aquariums.

    In a large tank, there is a higher water volume to dilute toxins and to absorb minor fluctuations in water chemistry – the same minor changes in water temperature, pH, or ammonia levels in a small tank can be deadly. For these reasons, nano tanks are not recommended for beginners, but they can be an exciting challenge for experienced saltwater hobbyists. Our top pick for the best nano reef tank is the Coralife LED BioCube Starter Kit.

    The Coralife LED BioCube Starter Kit features a high-quality construction, made from clear glass with rounded corners and a sleek, modern design. This tank comes with a hinged top to hide the integrated LED lighting system as well as a multistage wet/dry filtration system guaranteed to keep your water quality high. Perfect for a miniature reef tank, the integrated lighting system features both white LED and actinic blue light to mimic the day/night cycle as well as a 24-hour timer and a 30-minute sunrise/sunset function. If you aren’t happy with the equipment included in this all-in-one kit, there are plenty of other BioCube accessories available for upgrade.

    The Coralife LED BioCube Starter Kit is included in Aquarium Adviser’s top ten list of the best fish tanks. The site notes the tank’s sleek, clean design as well as its hinge-top design that hides cords and equipment from view. Aquascape Addiction names this tank the best nano tank as a whole, commenting on the quality of the multistage filtration system and the lighting system that includes both day and night lighting as well as transition lighting to mimic sunrise and sunset.

    With 35 customer reviews on Amazon and a solid 4.5-star rating, the Coralife LED BioCube Starter Kit is available in both 16- and 32-gallon sizes. The larger size might be a good option if you aren’t quite ready for the challenge of a true nano tank.

    Pros: Comes in both 16 and 32-gallon sizes, complete kit, sleek and modern design, hinged lid hides cords and equipment, includes LED lighting and filtration system, integrated 24-hour timer, comes with basic accessories and options to upgrade

    Cons: Does not come with an aquarium stand, doesn’t include a protein skimmer, fan can be a little bit noisy, equipment chamber could be larger

    Buy the Coralife LED BioCube Starter Kit on Amazon for $197.15

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    california fire

    The INSIDER Summary: 

    • More than 217,000 acres of land were scorched by the Sonoma County, California, wildfires over the past two weeks.
    • 41 people have been killed, thousands of homes have been destroyed, and hundreds of pets have gone missing.
    • But there are stories of hope. We rounded up some stories of rescued cats and dogs.
    • One dog, Odin, stayed behind to watch the family goats. They all survived. 

    The wildfires in Sonoma County, California, are already being dubbed "one of the worst tragedies"California has ever seen. Over the last two weeks, 217,000 acres of land have been scorched, 41 people have been killed, thousands of homes have been destroyed, and hundreds of pets have gone missing.

    But there is some good news among the devastation, as the Sonoma County Humane Society is working hard to reunite pet owners with their lost dogs and cats. Already, the non-profit organization has reunited dozens of animals with their families. 

    INSIDER has rounded up just a few of the heartwarming stories about pets being returned to their owners (relatively) unscathed in the Santa Rosa area. Be sure to have a box of tissues at the ready. 

    A hero dog was found alive after protecting a herd of goats

    The Hendel family evacuated their home before it was engulfed by flames on October 8 at 11.15 p.m. They rounded up their various dogs and cats, but were unable to take the eight goats on their farm. 

    Odin, their Great Pyrenees, refused to leave the goats' side, forcing the family to leave without him. 

    Shockingly, a few days later, the family spoke with their neighbors who reported back that even though their entire home was destroyed, Odin and his herd of goats were miraculously "doing just fine." Odin's fur was burnt and he was limping, but he had done his job well, according to ABC7 News.

    You can help raise money for the Hendel family here.

    A family returned home to find that their dog Izzy miraculously survived

    On October 9, Jack Weaver's parents were forced to flee their home in Santa Rosa. In the midst of the hubbub, their dog Izzy ran away from them. They were unable to chase after her without endangering their own lives, as the fires surrounded their neighborhood on either side.

    Three days later, Jack and his brother-in-law made the three-mile trek to the charred ghost land that was once his parents' suburban community. But suddenly, out of nowhere, they spotted Izzy limping towards them. 

    Izzy was covered in ash, but a veterinarian said that she was most likely insulated by her thick fur coat. The heartwarming reunion was captured on video:


    "Kitty" reunited with her owner after being found with burnt paws

    As Ohndrea Elliot spotted an orange glow in the distance at her home in Calistoga, she packed up her car with her belongings and pets, and prepared to flee. As the sky turned an angry red and filled with smoke, a tree crashed into her car, and she and her roommate decided to leave the car running and just go, according to KTVU.

    As she was leaving, she saw her 10-year-old calico cat, Kitty, run across the street and had to make the tough decision of leaving her behind in order to save her own life. 

    The day after she had learned that her entire home and all of her belongings had burned in the fire, Elliot was contacted by the Humane Society. They had found Kitty and were nursing her back to health after she was found with burnt paws and fur.

    "She is doing great," Elliot told INSIDER. "She was meowing and purring like crazy, and trying to walk to us last time I was there. Sonoma Humane Society is full of angels!"

    You can donate to Ohndrea and Jordan Elliot's Go Fund Me page here.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    ups dogs

    • A UPS driver started a Facebook group five years ago called "UPS Dogs."
    • The group is dedicated to photos of the dogs (and sometimes cats!) that UPS drivers meet on their route.
    • UPS drivers from across the country submit their photos and videos to be featured on the page.


    A little-known perk of driving a UPS truck is getting to know the customers on your route. The best perk? Hanging out with their furry, tail-wagging friends.

    A Facebook group called "UPS Dogs" is going viral. The group, started by 17-year UPS veteran Sean McCarren, features adorable photos of dogs (and sometimes cats!) that he and other drivers encounter on their routes.

    "We have about 30 drivers that post on a regular basis," Sean McCarren, who started the Facebook group five years ago, told INSIDER. "Dogs are really important to people's families, they are like their son or daughter, so you try to talk to them and treat them as such. What's funny is — ask any delivery driver and they will tell you — dogs just jump up into the vehicle, wanting a biscuit. Sometimes I'll go through a couple boxes of treats a week."

    And yes, corporate approves of the group:

    "Yes, we are aware of that site," a UPS spokesperson told BuzzFeed. "It’s a good example of the relationships our employees build with their customers, two- or four-legged!"

    Sean McCarren started the group five years ago.

    Apparently, drivers keep boxes of treats in their truck... an especially good idea when faced with large groups like this one.

    Many dogs will jump directly into the truck.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    4Maybe it’s because we feed them and rub their bellies, or maybe it’s because they can’t understand exactly what we’re saying, but pets are among the very few things on earth that are almost guaranteed to love you if you love them. Sometimes they love you without checking to see if you’re on the same page first, too.

    And to our immense credit as a species, we do a pretty good job of honoring that sort of uncomplicated goodness. 

    We buy them presents solely for them, like Kong balls and ultra-durable fluffy bunnies they can gnaw at to their heart's content, and then we buy things that serve as a little present for us, too — like litters that clean themselves automatically and tiny rope toys that look like your dog is smoking a cigar. After all, we’re only human. 

    I grew up with five dogs, two cats, and a tiny snapping turtle that I got to keep for the week my mom didn't know about it. I know it’s great to have pets, and I know from experience how invested I was in their happiness. And I figured: The more you care, the more detailed your research and trial approach, the better your recommendations. So I decided to ask my coworkers what were the best things they ever bought their furry friend, hoping for at least a few responses.

    In the next hour, I had over 20 emails and more than a few with attachments of a coworker’s dog or cat rolling around and tearing into their newest toy. Even if you read through them all and don’t pick up anything for your own pet, it’s nice to see that kind of dedication and care for another little life. Plus, I think the original theory held true: People really care about their pets. Each recommendation has some personal significance and a happy accountability to our furry best friends attached. 

    Below you’ll find tried-and-true recommendations for some of the beings we love the most, plus exactly why we love them:

    DON'T MISS: The best college supplies and dorm room essentials

    A tough dog rope for the most energetic (or determined) of dogs

    It may seem like a simple choice, but we delayed buying dog toys for a while and every stuffed animal in the house became fair game for "tug". Pretty soon the house was becoming a graveyard of childhood memories and we were sick of vacuuming up fluffy insides.

    We caved and bought a simple rope and though our Australian Shepherd has managed to get through one knot, it's proved to be "Gronk-proof" (our dog's name) after three weeks.— Spencer Lambert

    Close but not quite a cigar

    A cigar toy. He chewed this thing for days and days. — Andrew Meola

    A 'thundershirt" for separation anxiety

    I didn’t buy it for my pet, but a friend bought this and it worked wonders for his rescue that suffered from extreme separation anxiety! When my friend would leave his house, his dog would bark, run around and whine, but as soon as he put this “thundershirt” on, the dog would stand perfectly still! It’s insane. They also sell ones that say “security” on the back, I think, which is really cute! — Jennifer Martinez

    ThunderShirt Classic Dog Anxiety Jacket, starting at $39.95

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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