Are You Falling Ill? Ask Your Dog!

Our companion animals depend on us for food, shelter and protection. Some have larger-than-life personalities while others are more quiet and reserved.

But did you ever think about why they act in the ways they do? Is it even possible that they are smarter than what we think? Here are four facts to prove that they are not what they may first appear!

1) Dogs Can Tell if their Owners are Falling Sick

We all know dogs have an acute sense of smell and they use it purposefully to help us detect explosives and drugs. Leisurely, the olfactory receptors gather important information such as if another dog is friend or foe. 

Another impressive fact is that dogs may also be able to tell if their owners are falling ill, sometimes even before their owners realise it! This is because some illnesses change the way that we smell drastically. This change in odour might be so subtle that humans cannot detect it but dogs are able to pick up on this with their acute sense of smell, which is many times better than ours.


2) Cats Can Recognise their Own Names

In a study done overseas, 78 domestic cat owners reported that their pets reacted when their names were called. The animals responded by meowing, moving their ears and even turning their heads. 

Besides being able to distinguish their owner’s voices, cats are also able to make out sounds that make up their name, regardless of who is calling them. While cats may not actually know that their names are labels for them, they are able to recognise it as a sound that is associated with food, cuddles or something pleasant. Pet owners can always take heart knowing that their cats do understand them! 


3) Goldfish Can Remember Up to Three Months

While the term “goldfish memory” is used to describe someone with a bad memory, goldfish are smarter than we think. In fact, goldfish can remember things they have learnt for up to three months!

In a research done at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom, goldfish were trained to nudge a lever to get food. The lever was adjusted such that it would only work for one hour each day and the fish were able to adapt to the change and picked up on the correct timing to press the lever for food. This shows us that goldfish are more than able to learn and be trained! 


4) Cats Learnt to Meow to Communicate with us

Cats meow to speak to us and us only! While kittens may meow at their mothers for attention and food, adult cats do not usually meow at one another. Instead, cats usually understand each other through their body language and olfactorily (or using their sense of smell).

Some scientists believe that cats developed the ability to meow at humans because this behaviour helped solicit food or attention from their human caregivers. Cats may meow at us for various reasons, such as to say hello, to ask for something or to tell us something is wrong. When human caregivers respond to the meow positively, the behaviour is further reinforced, and the cat learns to repeat it in the future to get what it wants.


For More Pet Information
To learn more about the ins and outs of responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, follow @AnimalBuzzSG or visit the Animal & Veterinary Service webpage here

Thinking about getting a pet? Here are five key considerations before you bring one into your home.

A happy pet is a healthy pet. Find out how vaccination is essential to animal health, preventing diseases that are transmissible to humans and improving overall public health.

Capture your pet’s day-to-day actions like a pro. Learn how to photograph your animal companion like a pro.

Make a date with us for the next digital edition of Pets’ Day Out, right in the comfort of your home! Our Animal Welfare Group partners will showcase some loveable animals looking for ‘fur-ever’ homes. You can also ask our vet from the Animal & Veterinary Service questions you have about your pet during the chat-live segment.

Visit NParksSG, our refreshed YouTube Channel that serves as a one-stop repository for close to 300 video resources. It also provides you a platform for existing and future digital outreach including DIY gardening and related crafts, virtual tours of our green spaces, and livestream events. 

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Text by Chong Qi Ai

About the writer

Chong Qi Ai is a Centre for Animal Rehabilitation Manager with the Animal & Veterinary Service. She has a Master’s degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology. As an animal behaviourist, she studies how animals interact with each other and their environments, applying this to her work with the goal of improving the welfare of animals in her care. A typical day at work involves assessing animal behaviour, socialising, training and rehabilitating animals. She is also responsible for developing new programmes, initiatives and policies to improve the lives of animals.


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