Night blindness in dogs

Dogs suffer from the same type of night blindness as people. People who have congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB) have normal vision during the day but have trouble seeing things in dim light. Because dogs cannot tell us what they see or do not see, we can only assume that they have the same problem. We do know that they suffer from CSNB by their behavior. If you notice that your dog seems to be okay going out during the day but does not want to go out at night or acts uncertain when the lights in your home are off, you might want to have a veterinarian ophthalmologist examine your dog.

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The good news is that a team of veterinarians have proven that dogs suffer from CSNB and they have identified the gene that causes it. Once the gene has been identified, veterinarians can work to find a cure. That is exactly what veterinarians Keiko Miyadera and Gustavo Aguirre, a professor of ophthalmology and medical genetics at Penn Vet, and Rueben Das, then of Penn Vet and now of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, in collaboration with a team led by Mie University’s Mineo Kondo are doing.

As with inherited disorders and diseases that are common in dogs and humans, a cure for one will lead to a cure for the other.

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Squirrels eavesdrop on bird chatter

It is always amazing to learn how different species work together. A recent study showed that grey squirrels listen to the chatter of birds to determine if there is danger or if it is safe.

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Anyone who watches birds at a bird feeder will recognize the chatter of birds that are content and feel safe. Squirrels also respond to bird chatter to see if it is safe to raid the bird feeder or forage in the area. If the birds react to danger, the squirrel also reacts. By the same token, if the birds return to their normal “all is safe” chatter, the squirrels also assume it is safe.

This brings up interesting questions about how many other animals communicate in this way. I have noticed a difference in my pet budgies reaction to the safe chatter of songbirds when I have a window opened. They seem to chatter more then when they are by themselves. The only other time my birds are as vocal is when they like the music I am playing. Interesting to say the least.

Parasite from cats killing sea otters

For decades scientists have been studying why some California sea otters are dying. Recently researchers led by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have linked feral and domestic cats as the source of Toxoplasma that is killing sea otters.

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photo from pixabay

The parasite forms egglike stages referred to as oocysts. Feral cats eat rodents and birds that have the oocysts in their bodies. From there the oocysts live in the cats until they are passed through the cat feces. The feces are washed into the sea and live in the kelp. Then snails eat the oocysts and the sea otters eat the snails.

People who own cats can help by keeping their cats indoors. Cat feces should not be flushed into septic or public wastewater systems since they will cycle back into the ground.

The oocysts are also washed into the waterways by rainwater, therefore preserving wetlands, forests and grasslands will help keep the parasite and other pollutants out of the oceans. Managing storm water runoff and replacing pavement with permeable surfaces will help.

If all cat owners in California, especially those who live near the ocean, do what they can to help, we can reduce the death rate of sea otters.

Another canine therapy job

Dogs have proven themselves over and over again as a benefit to humans who are stressed or ill. Yet scientists have found another way that dogs can help people.

Waiting patiently to search croped (Jib a Border Collie)

Often military personnel must be transported by air to distant facilities for treatment. These people are often in a state of chronic and acute stress as well as requiring medical care.

Cheryl A. Krause-Parello, Ph.D., R.N. who is a researcher at the Florida Atlantic University in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing has determined that therapy dogs have drastically helped these patients, especially those with PDST.

What is awesome is that the study was assisted by researchers from the University of Maryland School of Nursing; the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing, Uniformed Services University; TriService Nursing Research Program, Uniformed Services University; and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

This research is supported by The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) is the awarding and administering office (award number HT9404-12-1-TS06, N12-011). This research is sponsored by the TriService Nursing Research Program, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

It is a real plus that so many organizations supported this study and hopefully therapy dogs will be assigned to help the soldiers that need them.

Must-Have Smartphone Apps for First-Time Dog Owners by guest blogger Penny Martin

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Photo Credit: Pexels

 

There are some basic materials  you need to be a great dog parent. This includes the right dog food, a quality leash and collar, ID tags, and a supportive, cozy bed, just to name a few. And in this day and age, there are apps that can help you keep your dog safe, organize information, and stay on top of health concerns.

However, you also need a reliable smartphone that is compatible with the latest dog apps and that provides fast internet service. If your current phone is not up to the task, consider getting an upgrade. There are plenty of options to choose from, so you’re bound to find a model that’s easy to use, fits your budget, and allows you to access your favorite apps.

If you want the highest-performing model, consider something dynamic with enhanced features—something with exceptional battery life that helps you to stay constantly connected. The new iPhone 11 Pro is such a device. It comes with impressive battery capacity, a triple-camera and a 5.67-inch display height, among many other features that makes it an excellent choice for dog owners. Or you might consider the Samsung Galaxy S10+, an Android option that includes a dual-aperture camera, long battery life, and enhanced integration with Windows systems.

THE APPS

Now, since using apps is a major benefit of having a good smartphone, let’s discuss some of the best dogs apps on the market:

FitBark

It’s exactly what it sounds like—the dog version of FitBit. When used in conjunction with FitBark dog activity monitors,  PCMag notes the FitBark app helps you to keep track of your pup’s daily activity and health status. Also, it tracks their sleep and will alert you of any activity that suggests your dog is dealing with stress and anxiety. It will even monitor how much your dog scratches in certain areas so that you can check them for a skin condition. And yes, you can connect the app to FitBit and exercise with Fido!

Whistle

Used with a tracker, the Whistle app  can monitor your dog’s daily activity and health. But its primary function is GPS tracking. By attaching the tracker to your pup’s collar, the Whistle app allows you to always know where your dog is, whether Fido is just in the backyard or has wandered off of your property. The app uses AT&T nationwide LTE-M network and Google Maps for easy and accurate tracking.

Chewy

As Best Company explains, the Chewy app  makes getting supplies for your dog as easy as possible. With more than 1,000 brands to choose from, Chewy will sell and deliver food, toys and other supplies to your door; and for orders of $50 or more, they provide free two-day shipping. When you create a profile for your pup, the app will show you the right kinds of food for his breed, and you can even set up automatic shipments to come each week or each month.

Pet First Aid

When it comes to preventing emergencies, and dealing with them if they happen, Pet First Aid  is the best app for dog owners. Developed by the American Red Cross, this app offers simple, step-by-step guides on how to treat Fido from home and routinely check on his health—including videos and graphics for some of the most common emergency and first aid situations. Furthermore, Pet First Aid provides information on preventative care and can direct you to nearby veterinary hospitals in the event of an emergency.

Becoming a dog parent is a big step in life. With the joys of your newfound companionship comes a host of responsibilities you may not be used to. But don’t worry, as long as you love dogs, you can be a great dog owner! Just make sure you have all your essentials and remember to take advantage of all the great dog apps available.

Dogs and bones

UCLA evolutionary biologist Blaire Van Valkenburgh has spent over 30 years studying broken teeth in carnivores of all kinds. She has come to the conclusion that broken teeth in carnivores that lived thousands of years ago to the present, are linked with food availability. Her conclusion is that as food becomes less available, carnivores will eat more of the kill, leaving less of it. This includes eating the bones. She maintains that when there is enough food a carnivore will not eat bones to protect their teeth. If a carnivore has broken teeth, they cannot kill and eat food as well.

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Why is this important to us? Her study shows that given a choice; carnivores will not chew on bones. This includes wolves, coyotes, foxes and other similar canids. So it brings up the question, is it wise to give our pet dogs bones to chew on? I have always maintained that it is not a good idea to give dogs bones to chew on. That it is not what they would do given the choice. Most dog bones are scented or stuffed to get the dog to chew it. Dogs that are aggressive chewers have broken their teeth on bones.

Some of the risks to giving a dog bones are:

Broken teeth

Mouth or tongue injury

The bone can get caught on the lower ja

The bone can get stuck in the esophagus, windpipe, stomach, and/or the

Intestines

Bones can cause constipation

Bones can cause severe bleeding from the rectum

Bones can poke holes in the stomach and intestines causing a bacterial     infection

And while I am writing this article, I will warn my readers that it is also dangerous and unnatural to feed dogs any form of rawhide from any type of animal, as well as antlers. These things can kill your dog or cause intestinal blockage requiring surgery. There is also the risk of toxins and decay that is associated with the processing of rawhide. The main source of rawhide is from slaughterhouses where cows and horses are butchered. Much of it is processed in China where they do not have the regulations that exist in other countries. So the best thing is to be careful about what you let your dog chew.

Cats do bond to humans

A recent study by Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University showed that cats’ bond to their human caretakers the same as dogs and human infants (attachment security). In this study cats were put in a novel room with their caretakers for two minutes, then they were left there for two minutes alone. After that the caretaker returned and the cat’s reaction was observed.

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The findings show that a cat’s attachments to humans are stable, and present in adulthood. As a result of this finding, the researchers are currently looking into how this impacts the many cats and kittens that are in shelters. They want to see how socialization and fostering influence a cat’s ability to have attachment security.

I am personally glad to see that researchers are finally exploring this aspect of a cat’s personality. Those of us who own cats know how attached they can be to us. For years people have misunderstood cats, labeling them as aloof because they show their affection differently than dogs.

Life-threatening heart arrhythmia’s in dogs

Although it is rare, some dogs, often Labrador Retrievers, suffer from life-threatening, arrhythmia caused by atrioventricular accessory pathways (APs).

APs are abnormal electrical circuits in the heart that can become activated and overcome the heart’s normal current pathways, severely impairing the heart’s ability to pump.

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Accessory atrioventricular pathways are atypical muscle bundles that connect the atrium to a ventricle outside of the regular atrioventricular system. The traditional treatment is life-long medications and frequent trips to the veterinarian. However, Dr. Kathy N. Wright and her colleagues at MedVet, a family of emergency and specialty veterinary hospitals around the United States have used a technique that is successful in humans, to treat dogs.

What she has demonstrated is that radiofrequency catheter ablation is a safe and highly effective alternative to successfully treat dogs. RFCA uses radiofrequencies to destroy those rogue circuits and allow the heart’s normal function to resume. In her study, dogs were cured with one or two treatments.

Again, this is a case of human medicine benefitting dogs. It is encouraging to think that veterinarians and human doctors will continue to work together to make all of us healthier.

Metacognition in Dogs

Metacognition is knowing when you don’t know. For example, if someone asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, you will know that you do not know the answer. Another way to put it is knowing what you know.

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Researchers at the DogStudies lab at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History have determined that dogs have metacognition abilities. Their tests showed that dogs checked more often when they did not know where a reward was hidden. This illustrated to the researchers that dogs do tend to actively seek extra information when they have not seen where a reward is hidden which is an indication that the dogs knew that they did not know where the reward was.

A famous example of this is Chaser the Border Collie when she was asked to find a toy that she was not taught to find. Although it took her longer, she examined each toy in a group and finally, by process of elimination, picked the correct toy. She knew that she did not know the toy she was asked to find.

Scientists must research carefully, eliminating all possible flaws in their research. They must also design tests to prove or disprove their hypothesis which is not an easy task. But those of us who work with dogs and see what they can accomplish, do not need tests to prove their abilities. Dog and animals in general, have many more mental abilities then scientists can prove at the present. However, it is good that they do continue their research.