Can Pets Read Our Minds?

One out of every two pet owners said yes, their dog or cat seems to be able to read their minds and react to their thoughts or intentions. That was one of the surprising answers in a ground-breaking study in 1994* into the seemingly psychic powers of pets. More than 15 years later, scientists are still debating this fascinating question.

Is my pet psychic?

According to Brian Hare, PhD, assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, dogs have kept such close company with people for hundreds of generations that they have evolved the ability to read human body language and social cues.

Dr. Hare and his colleagues found “dogs are better at a test of ability to interpret social cues than even the chimpanzees.”

Do dogs and cats have super powers?

There’s no question dogs and cats have extraordinarily keen senses. Compared to the human hearing range of a 100 yards away, dogs can pick up sounds a quarter mile away. Your dog’s sense of smell is up to 40 times stronger than yours. And, compared to a human’s, the cat’s sense of touch, hearing and vision, are all more highly evolved. However, along with this heightened sensitivity, some pets also develop frequent and ongoing fears or phobias.

Can my pet sense trouble?

Dogs are astute at reading body language and picking up on subtle expressions and gestures. Dogs can also “smell fear.” Literally. When humans experience intense emotions, such as panic, we naturally release pheromones. So if you’re afraid, your dog may not only sense your mood, she can also smell the adrenaline you release and may respond with fear, too.

Why are some pets more fearful than others?

With their built-in ability to “know” when change is coming, many pets aremore sensitive than we realize. Thunderstorms, fireworks, other animals and loud noises can cause intense reactions. “Fears, anxieties and phobias are more common in pets than people realize,” said Stacey Leonard, senior marketing manager, Senior Care, Virbac Animal Health. “And, a pet that’s experiencing frequent fear, anxiety, phobia or brain aging is likely suffering. If treatment is delayed, the problem can get worse, so it’s important to recognize the early signs and get help from a veterinarian.”

Is anxiety bad for my pet’s health?

If left untreated, the discomfort caused by persistent fear, anxiety or a phobia can lead to behavior problems or aggression. And yes, it can raise the risk of illness, including skin and digestive problems or heart disease. Fortunately, research has demonstrated these pets don’t need to suffer or be sedated to enjoy a normal life. At the first sign of ongoing trouble, consult a veterinarian, who can analyze the situation and recommend appropriate treatment. In some cases, behavior training to properly calm a pet may be all that’s needed. Serious cases may call for additional therapy. There is a nutritional supplement now available from your veterinarian that’s proven to help keep pets calm.

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