Is your pup catching your yawn?
SUMMARY: A recent study found that dogs respond to their owner's yawns, making it ever more important to keep up with pet's oral health.
Posted: August 9, 2013
You know how yawns are contagious? Well if you've ever noticed your pooch yawning after you let out a big one, you're not crazy! A recent study found that dogs yawn contagiously, but more importantly they tend to yawn when their owner does more so than strangers. Scientists believe that we yawn when others do as a form of empathy, and it correlates with social attachment. The research was published in the August 7 issue of the journal PLOS ONE and conducted by researchers at the University of Tokyo.
Although there have been other studies done with contagious yawns and canines, this is the first of its kind to look at why dogs react the way they do. Researchers observed 25 domestic dogs watch their owners and other people, who they were unfamiliar with, act out yawns. The results showed that the pooches were much more susceptible to catching a yawn if they were watching their owners do the mouth movements. Dogs really are man's best friend, as this study proves that there is an emotional side to pups catching a yawn.
"Our study suggests that contagious yawning in dogs is emotionally connected in a way similar to humans," Teresa Romero from the University of Tokyo said in a press release. "Although our study cannot determine the exact underlying mechanism operative in dogs, the subjects' physiological measures taken during the study allowed us to counter the alternative hypothesis of yawning as a distress response."
According to the study, 72 percent of the dogs yawned after observing a human do the same thing. The closer the bond between the dog and human, the more likely it was that the dog would follow suit. After the human established eye contact with the canine, the model began to act out a yawn sequence and continued to do so for 5 minutes. The dog was not given any feedback, like a treat or pet, after it gave a response. Another study provided a similar outcome, but it focused more so on the sound of a human yawn than the mouth motion. Researchers reached the same conclusion that dogs were more likely to yawn if they heard a familiar voice do so, than when they heard a yawn that was unfamiliar to them.
What you can do
This study shows all the more reason to pay attention to the oral health of your dogs. Who wants a smelly yawn in their face? As brushing your pup's teeth is often a challenge for owners, you can try other remedies like oral spray. Dr. Katz for Dogs and Cats Oral Solution is perfect for pooches and feline friends that are a bit picky. You can use this product one of two ways: As a spray, or in your pet's water bowl. If your furry friend is particularly fussy, add 2-caps full of the product to your pet's water bowl. Otherwise, you could simply spray your pet's teeth, gums and tongue with the solution.
Did you know that gum disease is actually very prominent in four-legged friends? Unfortunately, tooth decay and unhealthy gums are common in both cats and dogs, but Dr. Katz solution can improve the overall health of your pet's mouth, not just their bad breath. It has been noted to significantly reduce dental plaque and tartar, and kill the bacteria that causes smelly breath. Your pet's oral health is often overlooked by owners, but it is a serious health issue that many dogs and cat struggle with. Gum disease is most prominent in felines, and their teeth should get checked regularly to maintain proper health.