Scientific study shows dogs can detect their owner's health problems

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Experts think dogs can be an early warning sign of health issues for elderly owners...

Justine selfie, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home

© www.battersea.org.uk

We know dogs are all cute and fluffy and man's best friend, yadda yadda yadda, but we didn't know the slobbering pets could save our lives! Sort of.

According to new research, monitoring a dog's behaviour and mood can provide an early warning sign that an elderly owner is having health problems.

Dr Cas Ladha, PhD student Nils Hammerla and undergraduate Emma Hughes at Newcastle University used movement sensors to track normal dog behaviour like barking, sitting, digging and sniffing.

By discovering the normal habits of a happy, healthy dog, the team were able to set a good mood benchmark for the average pooch. So, if one of the dogs they measured suddenly stopped chasing sticks and scaring pigeons the team could tell and prescribe it doggie prozac.

But there's more, because the researchers have found a link between a dog's mood and its owner's health.

Behaviour imaging expert Nils Hammerla added, "Humans and dogs have lived together in close proximity for thousands of years, which has led to strong emotional and social mutual bonds. A dog's physical and emotional dependence on their owner means that their wellbeing is likely reflect that of their owner and any changes such as the dog being walked less often, perhaps not being fed regularly, or simply demonstrating 'unhappy' behaviour could be an early indicator for families that an older relative needs help."

Errrr, come again?

Basically they've created a collar that will tell a third-party the happiness of a particular dog, which reflects the happiness of its owner, so that third party can tell if the dog owner is happy without actually having to ask them.

Dr Ladha said, "A lot of our research is focussed on developing intelligent systems that can help older people to live independently for longer.

"But developing a system that reassures family and carers that an older relative is well without intruding on that individual's privacy is difficult. This is just the first step but the idea behind this research is that it would allow us to discretely support people without the need for cameras."

Clear as mud.

Is your dog psychic?

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