You may regard the recent revelation that dogs can read human minds as merely stating the obvious. How many of us have a dog who goes into a sulk before you’ve even got the suitcase down from the loft? My childhood dog Max used to go and sit on the spot where my Dad parked his car unerringly about 10 minutes before he’d get home from work and the level of conversations I hear between humans and canines would certainly be appropriate for two sentient beings rather than master and pet.
So the study from Portsmouth University demonstrating dogs are more likely to steal food if the lights are turned off may come as no surprise to many of you. It is designed to show that dogs can appreciate our point of view. I have always thought the fact that my dog looks into my eyes as proof of quite a deep level of understanding. She recognises that eyes are for seeing and that my eyes are likely to do the same thing that hers do, although this may be anthropomorphising a bit!
A question we are less likely to ask is can we put ourselves in our dog’s shoes. Dogs often don’t overtly show us problems that they may have and many people have a disinclination to treat their pets unless it is for conditions that they can see. If we were to apply the same rationale to ourselves then I’m sure GP’s waiting rooms would quickly empty: my back hurts, I feel a bit dizzy, I have stomach cramps, none of these things would be apparent to an observer unless you reported them yourself. So it is important that we take noticeable changes in dogs seriously.
We can never really know how dogs feel but we can treat for what is reasonable to believe given the presenting signs and you’d be amazed at the difference something as simple as an anti-inflammatory can have on an older dog’s quality of life.
Mr Richard Harper BVetMed MSc(Onc) MRCVS
T: 0208 4449006 E: [email protected]