All about dogs

  In the United States, about 40 percent of homes have at least one dog. If you have a dog at home, is it a huge mastiff? A loyal German shepherd? Or do you have a miniature toy poodle?

No matter what kind of dog you have, they are descended from a single species: Canis lupus, a wolf. Dogs were domesticated from wild South Asian wolves about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Though researchers used to believe that wolf pups were tamed directly by humans, they now believe it’s more likely that wolves gradually learned by themselves to live with humans. As they lived from the food scraps that villages left, new generations of wolves became more and more comfortable with living near humans.

When they were sufficiently comfortable with people, the villagers began to actively breed them for different purposes. Some breeds, like the bloodhound, were helpers for hunters. Others were good for protecting the home or herding livestock.

Today, domesticated dogs serve as companions, hunters, police and rescue dogs, and as service dogs for the blind. The more people continue to train them for different tasks, the more we realize how well we communicate with each other.

Dogs are omnivores (meaning they eat both meat and plants) with a huge variety of food preferences. Different breeds can sometimes have different dietary needs, so it’s important for dog owners to make sure their dog is getting the necessary nutrients.

   Though it’s tempting to give a begging dog “people food” from the dinner table, humans need to be careful what they give them. Some foods that humans eat and enjoy can be dangerous or even deadly to dogs. For example, some dogs are perfectly fine eating avocadoes; other dogs may experience stomach upset and vomit. Dark chocolate, while not too dangerous in tiny amounts, can still make a dog sick. Grapes are toxic for dogs, causing renal failure even in tiny amounts. If unsure, owners should call their local vet to find out what their dogs can or cannot safely eat.

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