New stem cell therapy for dogs

For the first time a team of researchers have developed the first step to easily use stem cells to create stem cell therapies to fight diseases in dogs. By doing this they can also model diseases.

The research team from Japan, led by Associate Professor Shingo Hatoya from Osaka Prefecture University used a “foot-print” free method that controls how the cells replicated in the body preventing problems with the previous methods that were used.

The research team believes that with continued research, their findings might be able to help humans since dogs share the same environment and develop the same diseases, especially genetic diseases. Perhaps the the research will expand to other animals, helping all of our pets.

Stem cell therapy for dogs

Associate Professor Shingo Hatoya from Osaka Prefecture University, and his team have developed a more reliable way to develop easy stem cell therapy for dogs.

Dempsey

This has paved the way for more research that will enable veterinarians to treat otherwise untreatable chronic and degenerative health issues in dogs. In the past, this was not as critical because dogs did not live as long. But with modern medicine, dogs are living longer and thus are suffering from age related conditions that exist more today than in the past.  

The research team feels that because dogs and humans share much of the same environment, the results of their research may have a ripple affect to humans since they share some genetic diseases.

Therapy dogs, robots or real dogs

Dr. Leanne Proops from the Department of Psychology of Portsmouth University conducted a study to see if children would respond positively to a robotic therapy dog vs a real dog. The researchers used a biomimetic robot at a West Sussex school with 34 children who ranged in age from 11 – 12. The robotic dog was a MiRo-E biomimetic robot developed by Consequential Robotics.

They also used two real therapy dogs, a Jack Russel mix and a Labrador who were from the Pets as Therapy group.

Before the therapy session the children were asked to fill out a questionnaire about how they felt about the real dogs and the robot. The researchers found that the children spent the same amount of time petting the real dogs and the robot, but they spent more time interacting with the robot.

The children did report that they preferred the session with the real dog. However, they did express more positive emotions after interacting with the robot.

Even though this was a small study, the researchers are hopeful that in cases where children are afraid of dogs or are allergic to them that robots could be a substitute for real therapy dogs. The robots could also become more available with little or no upkeep and training requirements.

My comment: However, there was no way based on this report to judge if the children interacted with the robot more because it was unique and different. Dogs are not uncommon for most children, robots are.  

Breeding dogs part three: types of breeders

The following is the third part in a series of eight articles about breeding dogs. Although it applies to a dog, it also applies to cats. People do not realize that there are cat mills which are similar to puppy mills. Note that these articles are based on my years of experience, my opinion and that I do not intend to refer to any individual. Please read the entire eight articles to glean a full understanding of breeding.

A top quality Havanese puppy

Part Three

There are six types of breeders.

  1. There is the ethical breeder who studies lines and has a goal that they hope to accomplish with a breeding. This goal can be for a litter who has a solid temperament. It could be for conformation showing, for a good working dog and a combination of qualities. It is important to understand that temperament and intelligence are the two qualities that make a dog a good pet or working dog. A dog who meets the conformation standard without a good temperament or intelligence is not a desirable pet or working dog.  

Ethical breeders are typically involved with a breed club or organization that monitors the ethics of the breeder. The ethical breeder does not produce multiple litters at one time and often only has one or two litters a year. They do not breed their dogs before they are tested for inherited issues or are under two years old. The ethical breeder will only breed those dogs who are worthy of breeding having been cleared of inherited issues and has been proven as a good show or working dog. Only exceptional dogs are bred. Ethical breeders work with the puppies from birth to placement so that they are socialized.

Ethical breeders often have waiting lists for puppies because their lines have been proven. They also only line breed or outcross. They rarely if ever inbreed.

The ethical breeder rarely makes a profit from their dogs due to the expenses of raising, testing and proving their dogs. Their litters are consistent in temperament, health and conformation. The ethical breeder will often guarantee the quality of their puppies.

Puppies from an ethical breeder are registered with a recognized registry. In the US this will be either the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club. In some cases, there are breed registries that are recognized as well. There are other registries that will register any type of animal and those that cater to the puppy mills. (See Registries Part 2)

  • The new breeder. Everyone has to start sometime. A small in-home breeder who is being mentored by an experienced breeder can be a quality, ethical breeder. Not every breeder has a large kennel. Most ethical breeders have a number of dogs that live in their house with them as pets. A home-raised puppy from an ethical breeder is the ideal place to get your puppy. The quality of the breeding is not measured by the number of dogs a breeder has, but by the care and goals of the breeder.
  • The commercial breeder mass produces puppies from a limited number of dogs. Their puppies are often registered with a national registry but the care and planning of the lines does not exist. Their goal is to make money so they often shortcut the testing and care of their dogs including the puppies. Their puppies are not from proven stock, are not consistent in temperament, health and conformation. These breeders will produce the breeds that are popular and likely to sell. They often produce a number of different breeds.
  • The puppy mill breeder. These people breed solely for profit. The dogs are often kept in cages and rarely given attention. They are not part of the family but viewed as livestock. They do no testing or planning and have no goals except to produce puppies and make money. Often these puppies are not pure and are not registered or if they are, they are registered with a non-recognized organization that supports puppy mills.

These puppies are often not consistent in temperament, conformation and are more prone to health issues.

  • The backyard breeder. This is the person who thinks they can make money from their pet. Due to a lack of understanding about breeding these puppies are one step away from the puppy mill breeder. The parents have no health testing, there is no consistency in the litter since they are randomly bred with no understanding of genetics. Because the backyard breeder does not understand all that is involved in producing and raising a quality dog, they do not take the precautions or socialize the puppies properly.
  • The last type of breeder is a rather recent phenomenon. This is the designer dog breeder. These people take two different breeds and try to create a dog of their own design. There is no consistency in the puppies that result because they do not have a solid goal. One of the excuses these people use is to create an allergy free dog. Because allergies are not a result of dog hair but of dander, this is not possible. All dogs have dander. Unfortunately, since there is no consistent conformation with designer dogs, there is no way other than a DNA test, to prove that the dogs are the mix that the breeder claims. I have had clients come to me with a dog that was supposed to be a Labradoodle and the dog grew up to be a terrier. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee the puppies and the buyer cannot know for certain that they are getting what they paid for. Also, it is unfortunate that these breeders charge as much or more for the mixed breed puppies as a buyer would pay for a well-bred puppy from an ethical breeder. These puppies are not registered or if they are, they are not registered with a recognized organization.

What is also important to consider is that a person who has a well-bred dog from an ethical breeder is not likely to cross this quality dog with another breed. Therefore, by default, many designer dogs are created from less desirable stock, often obtained from puppy mill breeders.

Breeding Dogs Part Two – Registries

The following is the second part in a series of eight articles about breeding dogs. Although it applies to a dog, it also applies to cats. People do not realize that there are cat mills which are similar to puppy mills. Note that these articles are based on my years of experience, my opinion and that I do not intend to refer to any individual. Please read the entire eight articles to glean a full understanding of breeding.

Part Two

Understanding registries is important because who a dog is registered with will give you a clue as to its legitimacy. There are a few types of registries.

  1. Nationally recognized registries. These are established organizations that register purebred dogs. In the United States it would be the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club. In some cases, there are breed registries that are legitimate. The way to determine if a registry is recognized is if other countries or registries accept a dog registered with the organization.
  • Non-recognized registries are those that anyone can establish. In the United States there are registries that cater to puppy mill breeders so that the AKC cannot shut down puppy mill operations.
  • Breed registries are those that are recognized but are designed to register certain types of working dogs. An example would be some of the working stock dog registries.
  • Anything goes registry are those that will register any type of animal for any reason.

Most people who own a pet dog feel that their dog is worth more if it is registered. They only understand that the dog has “papers.” They do not understand the value or uselessness of the papers. The non-recognized registries have used this lack of understanding to legitimize dogs by giving them “papers” that are not recognized by any national or international recognized registry.  

It is important to note that no registry can guarantee the quality of a dog or puppy. They can only guarantee that as reported to them the records have been accurately kept. If the breeder owns both the sire and dam, they can list any dog as the sire and dam of a litter. For example, I had a client who made an appointment for training and told me that he had a Rottweiler. When I questioned him, he assured me that he had AKC papers. When his breeder found out that he was coming to me for training, he admitted that the dog was a Rottweiler/German Shepherd cross, the result of an accidental breeding. Yet the dog had recognized registration papers because the breeder owned both the male and female. The real ethics depends on the honesty of the breeder.

Ethical breeders will only register their dogs with recognized registries.

Breeding dogs (and cats)

The following is the first part in a series of eight articles about breeding dogs. Although it applies to dogs, it also applies to cats. People do not realize that there are cat mills which are similar to puppy mills. Note that these articles are based on my years of experience, my opinion and that I do not intend to refer to any individual. Please read the entire eight articles to glean a full understanding of breeding.

Dempsey

Part One: The Bitch

First it must be said that only the best bitches and males should be bred. The only reason to breed is to better the breed.

Often in my career I have had clients tell me that they wanted to breed their pet dog. In most cases, they have no idea what is involved. It is much more than simply introducing a male and female.

Here are some of the reasons why they feel they want to breed their dog.

  1. To make a lot of money. Often people will pay a substantial amount of money for a puppy. They feel that if they breed their bitch, they will earn eight to ten times that money.
  • It will be good for the children to watch. Whelping puppies is pretty gory and most children cannot handle what is involved. In some cases, it can traumatize a child and if the child is a girl, make her afraid to have children of her own.

If you still want a child to see this, it is better to find a breeder who will let your child get up in the middle of the night to watch the birthing of a litter.

  • We love our dog so much we want another like him/her.  The chances of reproducing your dog are slim to nothing. Genetics is not an exact science and if breeders could control how a dog turns out there would be many more champions and exceptional dogs.
  • Everyone who meets my dog wants a puppy like him/her.  As soon as the litter is born most people find that all of those friends who said they wanted a puppy have excuses as to why they cannot get one now. Breeders who have dogs that are breeding quality have waiting lists for a reason. A home bred or backyard bred dog has no special qualities to warrant the cost.
  • We really love puppies. Raising a litter of puppies is a lot of work and if done right, is very costly.

Canine punishment training

For a long time, dog trainers that use positive training methods have tried to convince those who use punishment or aversive methods that aversive methods are detrimental to a dog’s mental health. Now a new study has proven that positive or reward-based training is conductive to a dog’s mental well being and adverse methods compromise a dog’s well-being.

The researchers studied 92 companion dogs from 7 different dog training schools that used aversive stimuli, (this could be shock collars, pinch collars and even choke collars or negative sound devices) as well as schools that used reward-based methods (such as clicker training) and some that used mixed methods. They filmed the dogs being trained, and then they tested the saliva for stress related cortisol. They found that the dogs who were trained using aversive methods were more stressful, showing stress related behavior such as crouching and yelping. The researchers even tested the dogs in neutral environments to see if the stress level remained high. They found that the dogs trained with aversive methods were more pessimistic.    

The research was conducted by Ana Catarina Vieira de Castro at the Universidade do Porto, Portugal

If your dog swallows a foreign object

Puppies and adult dogs will often swallow a foreign object that can potentially harm them. If they ingest an object that is sharp, and they seem normal and are not gagging, or choking, immediately give them Metamucil or another psyllium fiber product and then call your veterinarian. I keep unflavored psyllium fiber on hand so that if necessary, I can add broth to it so the dog will eat/drink it. If you don’t have psyllium fiber on hand the old-time remedy was to give the dog bread and milk or bread and water. The purpose of doing this is to form bulk or a coating around the object to prevent it from injuring the dog until a veterinarian can evaluate the situation and treat the dog. It is a first aid measure, not a cure.

Woody and Lily playing with toys under supervision

Dogs should not be given any product that can be chewed into small undigestible pieces. Such items would be bones, both real and fake, plastic toys, balls, sticks, some of the teeth cleaning chews/products, rawhide, pig ears, and cow hooves. If you are in doubt as to whether or not a product is safe for your dog to eat, put it in a bowl of water. If it does not break down and dissolve in five to ten minutes it is most likely not safe for your dog to ingest.

Many people like to play tug-of-war with their dog and use rope toys. These are OK for this type of play, but a dog should not be allowed to chew and swallow any type of rope. The strands can block the intestines, they are not digestible. Also be careful of stuffed toys and any product made of cloth. These also can block the dog’s intestines and are not digestible. Many stuffed toys are stuffed with batting that is made of synthetic material, again, not digestible.

If your dog likes to play with stuffed toys, watch him carefully to see if he rips the toy apart to pull out the stuffing or if he is the type of dog that will not destroy the stuffed toy. The key with any type of toy is to know your dog. With care and observation, a dog can play safely with toys.

New understanding of COVID 19

The question came up about why some animals such as cats, dogs and ferrets as well as humans can get the virus but bovine and swine do not. Researchers led by Professor Singh and his team which included Professor Rajinder Dhindsa (McGill University), Professor Baljit Singh (University of Calgary) and Professor Vikram Misra (University of Saskatchewan) decided to explore this question.

What they found is that those animals who can get the virus have two cycteine amino acids while those who do not only have one. This discovery will most likely lead to a cure for the virus. This is exciting news. Please read the whole article for a more in-depth explanation of how this works.

Touch is important for pets and people

A recent study conducted by the University of South Australia explored how important touch is to humans and animals. This phenomenon was recognized in early studies of children in orphanages who fared better with as little as ten minutes of cuddling. Pets fill the need for touch for many people.

The researchers found that during the COVID19 restrictions, more people have adopted pets of all kinds. Even breeders having long waiting lists. Many people have reported that touching a pet gives them comfort. They have even stated that their pets seem to know when they are depressed or sad and will comfort them.

The isolation caused by the virus has brought to light how important touch is to people. In the study lead author Dr. Janette Young stated that physical touch is a sense that has been taken for granted and often overlooked. The isolation due to the virus has brought to light how important touch is to people, their pets fill the void.