Although Lafora disease only affects about 50 children worldwide, it is a deadly form of epilepsy that is common in Wirehaired Dachshunds.
(photo is not a Wirehaired Dachshund but it is cute!)
Many Wirehaired Dachshunds suffer from Lafora, and because the disease is the same in children as it is in dogs, veterinarians and human neurologists have teamed up to study the disease.
Dr. Clare Rusbridge, Reader in Veterinary Neurology at the University of Surrey and Chief Neurologist at Fitzpatrick Referrals, have been working with specialists of Lafora in children at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and have identified a canine gene mutation that causes Lafora in dogs.
They were able to study the progression of the disease in dogs so that they could identify its early stages in children. By understanding the progression of the disease, scientists will be better able to identify it sooner in children and eventually find a cure.
The plus side of these studies is that over the past five years, with the help of the Wirehaired Dachshund Club and Dachshund Breed Council, breeders have tested breeding stock and as a result, have reduced the number of litters that are at risk of having Lafora from 55% to under 5%. Hopefully the continued research will benefit humans as well.
Studies have been done about “tough love” moms and children and how letting children face minor adversities gives them the ability to cope better when they are adults. But now for the first time a study has been done to determine if the same applies to dogs.
Emily Bray, a postdoctoral researcher in the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology studied litters of puppies at the Seeing Eye, the guide dog organization in Morristown, New Jersey, and published her report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
What she found is very interesting. After tracking the litters into adulthood, they found that the puppies with mothers who were more attentive were more likely to fail as guide dogs for the visually impaired.
Bray did stress that although her study highlights the connection between a mother’s behavior and puppies, she feels that more research is needed to see if genetics plays a part in the results of her study. It never ceases to amaze me how similar dog behavior is to human behavior in many ways.
In a recent study by Fabian Leendertz a veterinarian scientist at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the University of Glasgow, and the Ivorian National Animal Health Institute, found that the chimpanzee population is facing extinction from Anthrax. This is unusual since the disease is typically not found in tropical rain forests, but it has been discovered in the Ivory Coast’s Taï National Park.
Photo Credit: MPI f. Evolutionary Anthropology/ L. Samuni
Anthrax is a spore-forming bacterium, and is more common in the arid regions of Africa which can kill both people and animals. However, in 2004 Leendertz and his team discovered an unknown type of anthrax in dead chimpanzees. Since then they have found the new strain of anthrax (Bacillus cereus biovar anthracis) in other animals such as gorillas and elephants, several monkey species, duikers, mongoose, and a porcupine. They found that 40% of the animal deaths in the Taï National Park were due to anthrax.
While humans have not suffered from this strain of anthrax, there is concern since it is closely related to the strain that does infect humans. Researchers are working together to solve the mystery of the latest anthrax threat to animals and possibly humans. Hopefully they will find a way to contain it and stop the spread of it.
Short nosed or Brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) which can cause health problems, breathing difficulties and even death. Veterinarians have conducted research to try to determine if there is a way to predict which dogs will suffer from BOAS, (almost half the dogs in these breeds are affected). By determining which dogs will have BOAS, breeders can try to eradicate it from the breeds that suffer from it.
This photo shows a dog with closed nostrils making it difficult to breathe
In 2015 researchers at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London determined that dogs whose muzzles were less than half of their cranial length and dogs with thicker necks were more likely to have BOAS. However, they did not feel that this was a reliable way for breeders to select dogs for breeding.
More recently a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge tried to compare neck girth with chest girth and muzzle length to see if that could predict BOAS. However, they found that it was not easy to measure dogs and it was not reliable. They did suggest that breeders should not use dog with very short muzzles, wide faces and thick necks for breeding.
Dr. Nai-Chieh Liu one of the researchers suggested that breeding for open nostrils is most likely the best and easiest way to improve these breeds. Researchers are going to try to find a genetic marker for BOAS to help improve Brachycephalic dogs to improve breeding programs.
People who own one of these breeds should have their dogs checked yearly for difficulty breathing even if the dog appears to be OK.
According to the latest research in the UK, GSD’s are most likely to die from complications due to musculosketetal disorders. Almost a half a million GSD’s were studied by the VetCompass™ Programme at the Royal Veterinary College.
The dogs surveyed came from 430 veterinary clinics. They found a total of 263 disorders, the most common were, inflammation of the ear canal (7.89% of dogs), osteoarthritis (5.54%), diarrhea (5.24%), overweight and obesity (5.18%), and aggression (4.76%).
According to Dr. Dan O’Neill, from the Royal Veterinary College, GSD’s have the second highest number of health disorders, with Great Danes being the first. According to the report, GSD’s suffer from an abnormal formation of the hip joint, cancer, and degenerative spinal disorders which he feels is a result of breeding for cosmetic features such as a sloping back and lower hindquarters.
This is the first study, which included 17 different breeds, whose goal is to help breeders improve the health of their dogs.
It would be interesting to see how the study compares with the health of GSD’s in other countries.
In a recent study at Oregon State University by Haley Leeper, a veterinary oncology resident at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine as well as Craig Ruaux and Shay Bracha, colleagues of Leeper in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, and Austin Viall of the Department of Veterinary Pathology at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine showed that higher cholesterol seemed to help dogs survive bone cancer longer.
They found that dogs with the malignant tumor, osteosarcoma, which is also diagnosed in humans, typically afflicting teenagers and young adults, that had high serum cholesterol lived on the average of 200 days longer than dogs who did not have high cholesterol.
Researchers plan to study why the high cholesterol helped dogs survive longer and perhaps learn ways to cure this type of cancer in dogs and humans alike.
I personally hope they come up with a cure for bone cancer, I lost my beloved Rottweiler to bone cancer many years ago.
According to Thomas Newsome of Deakin University and the University of Sydney in Australia, and co-author Aaron Wirsing, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the rise of secondary predators such as coyotes, jackals and foxes is in large part due to the limits placed on the areas that wolves and dingoes range. He found this to be true in Australia and Europe as well as the United States.
Coyotes and foxes are very adaptable and can be found in suburban settings as well as more open areas. Their population has increased because their main predator, the wolf and dingo, does not have the ability to range far enough to keep them under control. Wolves need a large area to roam and even though re-location has increased their numbers in some areas, their ability to range is fragmented.
The team plans to study the impact that localization has on the environments where the main predators are the big cats such as jaguars, leopards, lions and tigers.
The genetic defect that causes hereditary blistering disorders of the skin, known as epidermolysis bullosa, in both humans and the Central Asian Shepherd Dog has been identified as being the same. The defective gene causes the skin to be easily damaged resulting in abrasion and blistering. There are four different types of the disorder, simplex, junctional, dystrophic and Kindler syndrome.
The defective gene causes a lack of collagen between two layers of skin. Without the collagen, the skin will blister.
Thanks to the gene researchers at the University of Helsinki, Marjo Hytönen, a member of the research group led by Professor Hannes Lohi and pathological tests conducted by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the defective gene was confirmed.
As a result, tests can be conducted on members of the Central Asian Shepherd Dog allowing breeders to select only those dogs that do not have the defective gene as part of a breeding program. Hopefully, researchers will be able to find a cure for humans.
Although the tiger is found throughout India, Southeast Asia and Russia, their numbers are dwindling. In an effort to save the tiger, Neil Carter of Boise State University and Teri Allendorf of the Univesity of Wisconsin-Madison, have researched how women in Nepal view tigers differently than men. Carter feels that women have more influence over the way communities feel about co-existing with tigers.
They have found that women are more likely to have an encounter with a tiger because they spend more time in the forest. They are less informed about tigers and how the existence of tigers benefit their economy, culture and ecosystem. Woman also have more influence over the way children view tigers. A more educated, positive attitude would improve the the way future generations interact with tigers.
Carter feels that understanding the difference in gender perception of wildlife may help people feel differently about grizzlies, wolves and other large predators in the United States in western states such as Idaho.
The Himalayan wolf is on the critically endangered list because they are so rare. Their existence and plight have become publicized by the efforts of an international research team led by Madhu Chetri, a graduate student at the Hedmark University of Applied Sciences in Norway. He has studied the wolf in the largest protected area of Nepal.
The Himalayan wolf looks quite a bit different then its European cousins. They are smaller in size, have a longer muzzle and shorter, stumpy legs. They are also marked differently with white around their throat, chest and belly and the inner parts of their legs. They also have a wooly coat.
A pair of Himalayan wolves in their natural habitat. Credit: Madhu Chetri; CC-BY 4.0
To me they look more like our modern Husky breeds, especially the Malamute and Siberian Husky. Siberian Huskies have been known to have an occasional wooly coat.
The researches feel that the Himalayan wolf is a separate branch of the wolf-dog family tree, making it especially rare.
As is the case with most wolves, the local farmers, ranchers and livestock owners hunted and killed as many wolves as they could, believing that they are a threat to their domestic livestock.
Hopefully, the researchers will be able to save this rare and unusual member of the wolf family.