All the Amazing Things Your Dog or Cat Can Sense
You probably know that your dog or cat has pretty keen senses. But you may not have realized that your furry companion can actually sense a lot of things that you wouldn’t notice. Whether it’s your mood, an impending thunderstorm, the grudge you have against your neighbor, or a medical change you wouldn’t notice in yourself, your dog or cat can sense plenty of things that are invisible to you.
Below, check out some of the most amazing things that your dog or cat can sense.
1. Your dog can sense your mood
You aren’t alone if you think your dog can tell what kind of mood you’re in. In fact, scientists concur that he can. As NPR reports, a study published in the journal Current Biology found a voice-sensitive region in dogs’ brains. Dogs use this specific region of their brain to parse the information in people’s voices. This region of the brain also enables dogs to respond to the emotional cues in people’s voices and, ultimately, to distinguish positive vocalizations from negative ones. So, it’s no surprise that your dog becomes attuned to your mood.
2. Your cat can pick up on how you’re feeling
Dogs aren’t the only pets who can sense their owners’ moods. Cats seem to be able to learn to read their owners’ facial expressions, and deduce when they’re in a good mood or a bad mood. As the BBC reports, a study published in Animal Cognition determined that cats behave differently when their owners smile versus when they frown. For example, cats are significantly more likely to perform positive behaviors for a smiling owner. They also want to spend more time with a human when they’re smiling than when they’re frowning.
3. Your dog knows what you’re saying to him — and whether you mean it
You may not always notice that you’re saying something in a specific tone of voice — but your dog does. As National Geographic reports, researchers have found that dogs respond both to what you say and how you say it. The left hemisphere of a dog’s brain responds to the words that their owners say, but the right hemisphere responds to their owner’s intonation.
So, your dog needs to hear both a praising word and a praising tone to know that you actually mean the positive words you’re saying. If the words he knows and the tone he detects don’t match up, he may realize that you don’t really mean what you’re saying.
4. Your cat can smell things that you can’t
While there’s no telling for sure whether cats are really better than dogs — we know plenty of people on both sides of that debate — there’s no denying that cats have a keener sense of smell than dogs. That means that they can smell things that you — and dogs — can’t. Cats can see a wider range of colors and shades than dogs, too, and they have better close-range and dim light vision. Cats can also hear better than dogs.
Cats use those superior senses to stay alert to what’s going on in their environment — even things you’d never notice. This might be why many cat owners report their pets stare off into space. In reality, these cats have probably noticed a speck of dust or ray of sunlight moving and want to make sure there actually isn’t anything there.
5. Your dog can understand inequality
While your dog probably doesn’t have any answers to major problems like income inequality, he definitely can sense when you aren’t treating him fairly. If you treat your pets differently, for instance, your dog is definitely going to notice. A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that dogs show sensitivity toward the inequality of rewards they receive from researchers.
Dogs change their behavior if they notice another dog getting a reward when they don’t. So if you have multiple dogs at home, you’ll want to treat them equally. If you don’t, they’ll probably notice.
6. Your cat or dog can sense whether you think an object is dangerous
When your pet encounters something strange in his environment, he’ll probably look at you to figure out how to react. And whether you have a cat or a dog, your pet will likely be able to sense whether you’re reacting positively or negatively to an object.
As Scientific American explains, dogs look at people to figure out whether to approach something new in their environment, and your emotions will affect how they respond. Similarly, cats look at their humans to try to make sense of a new or ambiguous situation, and they respond to the emotions they see their owners express.
7. Your cat can tell when you feel stressed
Even if you don’t think that your behavior gives your cat any clues about the stress you’re feeling, he can probably still tell. Feline Nutrition reports that cats respond to their owners’ stress levels. In fact, they sometimes become stressed themselves as a response to their owners’ stress, too.
Cats are susceptible to stress-related illnesses, so your stress levels can become a problem not only for you, but also for your cat. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that both you and your cat live in a calming environment.
8. Your dog can also tell when you’re stressed
Dogs can also sense when their owners feel stress or tension. In fact, Psychology Today reports that anxious and nervous dog owners tend to have tense and nervous dogs. Additionally, researchers have determined that dogs with highly neurotic owners are less able to deal with pressure and stress.
The idea is that dogs sense their owners’ emotions and think that the world is more dangerous. Thus, these pets react more strongly to things in their environment and are less able to cope with stress than other dogs.
9. Your dog knows when you and your partner are arguing
Whether you’ve been with your boyfriend for a year or have been married to your wife for 20, chances are good that your dog can tell when you’re arguing or angry at each other. As PetPlace notes, dogs respond positively when the people in a household behave happily toward each other.
Conversely, many dogs slink away and hide when their owners argue. Even though your dog may not understand what you’re arguing about, he senses that there’s some kind of trouble brewing and wants to stay away from it.
10. Your dog can sense whatever emotion you’re feeling
As National Geographic explains, a study showed that dogs yawn more in response to their owners’ yawns than to strangers’ yawns, which could indicate that your dog feels “emotionally connected” to you. The upshot? While your dog may not understand all the complex emotions you experience, he does have some sense of what you’re feeling.
Just as dogs yawn when their owners do, they can respond with empathy to our other emotions, too. They may try to comfort you when you feel sad, for instance. Or they may get excited when you feel happy.
11. Your cat or dog can detect somebody outside before you can
While it doesn’t require an in-depth scientific explanation, we’ve all observed that cats and dogs can detect somebody outside our homes long before we can. Thanks to their keen sense of hearing, your pet may hear the mailman walking up the sidewalk, or he might detect the sound of the pizza guy parking his car halfway down the block. And if you live in an apartment building, your cat might listen in on what the neighbors are doing — even if you can’t quite make out what’s going on (or even hear that anything is happening). Whether you have a cat or a dog, your pet will likely surprise you by noticing things that haven’t yet gotten your attention. Just chalk it up to their superior sense of hearing!
12. Your dog may be able to tell that you’re pregnant
Many of us wonder whether dogs can tell when one of their humans is pregnant. According to the AKC, they probably can — at least sort of. Dogs can sniff out changes in the human body. (That’s why they can detect cancer, diabetes, and other health conditions — more on that on the next page!) During pregnancy, your hormones shift, and your dog likely notices those changes. In fact, he probably even noticed them before you did.
Your dog’s behavior may not make it obvious that he knows something is going on. But some dogs do act more protective of a pregnant human. And they’ll definitely notice changes in your routine or environment.
13. Your cat or dog can probably tell if you develop cancer, or if your blood sugar is too low
National Geographic reports that dogs can be trained to detect diseases in people. Numerous studies have indicated that dogs can detect various cancers, including prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and melanoma. Although, researchers don’t quite know exactly what dogs can smell that indicates these illnesses.
However, they’ve observed evidence that canines trained as diabetic alert dogs can smell a volatile chemical compound released by diabetic people. They actually learn to detect the scent of low blood sugar in the same way that other dogs learn to detect the scent of cancer. Cats have also saved their owners’ lives by detecting cancer and alerting them to impending hypoglycemic episodes.
14. Your dog can warn you about a migraine or seizure before it happens
Similarly, some dogs can sense the signs of migraines or seizures before they happen, and they can alert their owners in time for them to seek treatment or get to a safe position. Psychology Today notes that dogs can warn their owners about a migraine up to an hour or two before it starts.
Similarly, National Geographic reports that seizure alert dogs can warn people with epilepsy of an oncoming attack. Some dogs can even warn their owners about an upcoming narcolepsy episode with enough advance notice to give the person time to take necessary precautions.
15. Your cat can sense an impending storm
PetHelpful reports that many animals display a change in behavior before major weather events, like storms. Often, when they sense that a storm is coming, they make act in a way that you’d consider out of the ordinary. As PetHelpful explains, “A docile cat may become hyper, a hyper cat may mellow out, a hands-off cat may suddenly want to snuggle, a social cat may hide or scratch, or an indoor cat may suddenly want to bolt out the door.” Though many superstitions about cats’ behavior prove inaccurate, if you pay close attention to him, he may be telling you that a storm is brewing.
16. Your dog can sense an earthquake before it occurs
Just as cats seem to predict thunderstorms, dogs seem to sense earthquakes before they occur. According to Psychology Today, one possible explanation suggests that dogs can hear seismic activities that precede earthquakes. (They could hear scraping, grinding, and breaking rocks underground.)
Dogs can also hear higher frequency sounds — the kind that might happen prior to an earthquake. Dogs who seem to sense an earthquake display more anxiety and more activity in the hours before a seismic event.
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