Lori begins the show with a discussion of the myriad problems with testing of consumer products like cosmetics on animals. Despite rapid advances in technology that is capable of replacing animal testing, antiquated and cruel methods still are often employed in the US and Canada. Notably, the FDA does not require animal testing and 40 other countries no longer test on animals for cosmetic development and safety assurances. Lori discusses the primary methods used including applying irritants to the skin and eyes of animals and force-feeding chemicals to animals. The primary victims are cats, dogs, rabbits, and mice. The results are often unreliable and do not always ensure human safety.
Consumers looking for products that are cruelty-free may face incomplete or deceptive information if they rely on package labels because the components of a final product may have been tested on animals but not disclosed on the label. It is best to use a resource such as the leaping bunny from Cruelty Free International. More and more product brands are dropping animal testing in large part due to consumer behavior choices.
We continue with a discussion about rabies, sparked by a story of an elderly man who recently died from the disease, which he evidently contracted from a bat. He refused treatment after the exposure, which would have been lifesaving. Any mammal can harbor rabies, with the most common affected animals being raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Public health measures to address rabies in dogs started in the 10940s and consisted of widespread vaccinations. Consequently, cases of rabies in dogs in the US are extremely rare.
A common misconception about rabid animals is that they can be identified by observing their appearance and behavior but generally, one cannot tell if a given animal has rabies without testing. One important fact to remember is that often, the bite from a bat is so small that it will not leave evident marks on the skin. So, if one awakes, for instance, and observes a bat in the bedroom, he or she must act as if a bite has occurred, which means seeking medical care right away. And that care will include rabies post exposure prophylaxis, a dose of human rabies immune globulin and then 3 doses of the rabies vaccine. This treatment is highly effective in preventing the disease from taking hold and killing the victim, which otherwise occurs 99.9% of the time in untreated cases.
We continue talking about research on dogs aimed at seeing if they can detect differences between varying spoken human languages. The tool of functional MRI is being used to look at brain activity in awake dogs when they listened to Spanish versus Hungarian speech. But where will these studies go, and will they yield any valuable insights? Then Lori dives into the research on sleep quality among those who sleep with a pet in the bed. Is it sleep-enhancing or disruptive? Mostly, this question has been addressed through surveys, and Lori reviews a sampling of them plus some expert opinions from sleep experts. Tune in to hear the bottom line! Then, we have news items including efforts to find and save the rare saola, a recently discovered large horned mammal native to Laos and Vietnam, a petting zoo in Tacoma, Washington that needs to be shut down due to abuse and neglect of the animals there, and data on how few pet guardian are trained in first aid for their pets.