Educational Articles

Characteristics

  • Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a long molecule that contains an animal’s entire genetic code. DNA is primarily located within the nucleus of each cell. In the nucleus, enzymes transcribe the DNA bases into a substance called RNA (ribonucleic acid), which serves as a messenger, taking the DNA message out into the cytoplasm of the cell where the RNA is translated into proteins. These proteins are responsible for a number of functions in the cell and throughout the body, primarily by acting as enzymes that regulate various cell reactions. DNA tests allow us to examine an animal’s DNA in order to see whether they carry certain genetic diseases. DNA testing can also be used to determine the ancestry of an animal.

  • Dogs use their noses infinitely more than humans to get around in the world and gather information. With specialized olfactory organs that detect pheromones, dogs' sense of smell is thousands of times better than humans.

  • This handout discusses the concept of hypoallergenic dogs. These breeds are meant to create less allergic reactions in people that suffer from dog allergies. Humans sometimes react to the proteins found in dog saliva and dander. Precautions to take when trying to reduce your exposure to these allergens are highlighted. As well, breeds that tend to be less reactive to dog allergy sufferers are discussed.

  • Feral cats are fiercely independent and survive (but may not thrive) without the help of humans. They avoid people and hide, back away, or flee when they spot humans. Lack of immunization, parasite control, adequate nutrition, and hygiene put feral cats at risk of many life-threatening problems. TNR (Trap, Neuter, and Release) programs are the hallmark of controlling feral cat populations.

  • Dogs, like people, need mental and physical exercise. They crave playful interaction with their peers. Going to the dog park will allow them to see, hear, and smell new things as they exercise with other dogs. Active dogs, like active, people, are healthier. So, Gather 'round! Take a trip to the park.

  • Getting a purebred dog comes with some pros and cons. You know what you are getting but also run a higher risk for genetically tied health problems. Do a little research before selecting a new pup, purebred or otherwise, and remember this: whatever you name your dog, you will call him 'yours' no matter what he looks like!

  • Cats are always going to lick but it is sometimes embarrassing when they lick their private parts. Licking after eliminating is normal; however, if your cat licks more frequently or you notice other signs such as discharge, swollen or red penis, vulva, or anus, pustules, discoloration of the skin, or you observe your cat straining to urinate, see your veterinarian for help. Appropriate medical therapy can reduce your cat’s discomfort.

  • Like us, cats are mammals that are covered with hair. But there are definite differences in the hair that covers our bodies. While we may have whiskers on our faces, they are nothing in comparison to kitty whiskers!

  • Noses vary in size and shape in the canine world, but regardless of what they look like, they are important to survival. So pay attention to your dog’s nose to help him stay healthy. And enjoy those warm moist snuggles your dog’s nose provides you. A dry nose is not a guarantee of illness. Too much moistness could be a sign of a problem. 

  • Whiskers serve many important functions in dogs with regards to sensory inputs. Whiskers help dogs navigate the world and detect changes in their environment. These are some of the most sensitive hairs on the dog's body.

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