The Reason Why Dryer Sheets Are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

iStock/Linda Raymond
iStock/Linda Raymond

Pet owners quickly learn to become vigilant about seemingly innocuous things that could prove harmful to their cats and dogs. Human treats like chocolate or caffeine are notoriously bad for a pet's stomach; walking hazards like lawn chemicals, standing water, and gum can all prompt a visit to the vet.

You might not realize another common threat is lurking in laundry baskets, where cats sometimes like to relax. According to the Spruce, dryer sheets used to reduce static cling can harm a pet’s health.

The sheets are infused with chemicals activated by the heat of a dryer. Benzyl acetate, camphor, and chloroform are often present, and all of them can present problems for pets who either come in contact with the sheets or ingest them. Symptoms can be local, like skin irritation, or systemic, including pulmonary edema and kidney issues. The tough fabric of the sheet itself also poses a problem, because it won’t break down in an animal’s digestive tract. Surgery is sometimes needed to remove blockages caused by these types of materials.

Not every pet is going to show an interest in nibbling on a dryer sheet, but it’s still a good idea to keep them stored safely away, especially if your pet hangs out in your laundry area. It’s also inadvisable to groom pets by picking up errant fur with the sheets, which is sometimes recommended online. The chemicals can be left on fur, which pets can then ingest by licking.

The same cautions hold for fabric softeners, which contain corrosive detergents that can damage mucus membranes. The best advice is to keep all chemicals out of the reach of your pets and make sure your laundry room is safe from prying paws.

[h/t The Spruce]

Meet LiLou: The World's First Airport Therapy Pig

Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images
Kseniia Derzhavina/iStock via Getty Images

There's a new reason to get to the airport early—you might run into a therapy pig who's there to make your trip a little easier. As Reuters reports, LiLou the Juliana pig is a member of San Francisco International Airport's "Wag Brigade," a therapy animal program designed to ease stress and anxiety in travelers.

Aside from her snout and potbelly, LiLou can be recognized by her captain's hat and red "hoof" polish. She spends the day with guests who are happy to take a break from the pressures of traveling. She might comfort them by posing for a selfie, playing a song on her toy keyboard, or offering them a head to pet.

After bringing joy to people's day, LiLou goes home to her San Francisco apartment where she lives with her owner, Tatyana Danilova. In her free time, she goes on daily walks and snacks on organic vegetables. She even has her own Instagram account.

Airports around the world are embracing the benefits therapy animals can bring to customers. The Wag Brigade program at San Francisco includes a number of dogs, and earlier this year, the Aberdeen Airport in Scotland debuted its own "canine crew" of dogs trained to make travelers feel safe and happy. Therapy miniature horses have even been used at an airport in Kentucky. According to the San Francisco Airport, LiLiou is the world's first airport therapy pig.

To see LiLou turn on the charm, check out the video below.

[h/t Reuters]

Sssspectacular: Tree Snakes in Australia Can Actually Jump

sirichai_raksue/iStock via Getty Images
sirichai_raksue/iStock via Getty Images

Ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes, is common among humans. We avoid snakes in the wild, have nightmares about snakes at night, and recoil at snakes on television. We might even be born with the aversion. When researchers showed babies photos of snakes and spiders, their tiny pupils dilated, indicating an arousal response to these ancestral threats.

If you really want to scare a baby, show them footage of an Australian tree snake. Thanks to researchers at Virginia Tech, we now know these non-venomous snakes of the genus Dendrelaphis can become airborne, propelling themselves around treetops like sentient Silly String.

That’s Dendrelaphis pictus, which was caught zipping through the air in 2010. After looking at footage previously filmed by her advisor Jake Socha, Virginia Tech Ph.D. candidate Michelle Graham headed for Australia and built a kind of American Ninja Warrior course for snakes out of PVC piping and tree branches. Graham observed that the snakes tend to spot their landing target, then spring upward. The momentum gets them across gaps that would otherwise not be practical to cross.

Graham next plans to investigate why snakes feel compelled to jump. They might feel a need to escape, or continue moving, or do it because they can. Two scientific papers due in 2020 could provide answers.

Dendrelaphis isn’t the only kind of snake with propulsive capabilities. The Chrysopelea genus includes five species found in Southeast Asia and China, among other places, that can glide through the air.

[h/t National Geographic]

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