Dogs help children with a rare and severe form of epilepsy

Although Lafora disease only affects about 50 children worldwide, it is a deadly form of epilepsy that is common in Wirehaired Dachshunds.

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(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.

Tough love moms in dogs

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.

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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.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170807151706.htm

Almost half of Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

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.

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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.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170801140548.htm

Study shows that breeding practices for the past decades has caused health problems in German Shepherd Dogs

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.

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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.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170727221255.htm

 

High cholesterol in dogs may help fight bone cancer

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.

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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.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170725122245.htm

The gene that causes epidermolysis bullosa in the Central Asian Shepherd Dog and Humans has been identified

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.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170601124155.htm

The Himalayan wolf is probably the oldest and rarest species of wolves in the world

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.

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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.

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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.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160425112649.htm

 

New discovery may help cure dogs and humans with heart disease

Myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) and congestive heart failure in older dogs is age related and often affects small dogs. MMVD is the most common cardiac disease in dogs. Once a dog has congestive heart failure they are only expected to live between one and nine months.

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Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University have discovered biomarkers in the extracellular vesicles of dogs with MMVD in the form of microRNA (miRNA) which circulate in the blood and urine. What is exciting is that this is the first biomarker based on extracellular vesicles in a veterinary disease.

MMVD is similar to mitral valve prolapse in humans, so this finding can eventually benefit humans with heart disease. While further research is needed, this is a wonderful finding that has potential to help monitor the progression of the disease as well as lead the way to developing treatment for both humans and dogs.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170714140437.htm

http://www.acvim.org/Portals/0/PDF/Animal%20Owner%20Fact%20Sheets/Cardiology/Cardio%20Myxomatous%20Mitral%20Valve%20Degeneration.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4048944/

 

A new evaluation for guide dog puppies

Researchers in the University of Nottingham’s (England) School of Veterinary Medicine and Science have had success with a questionnaire designed to determine the suitability of puppies to be trained as Guide Dogs.

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Their evaluation tool successfully predicted the training outcomes in young dogs 5 – 12 months with an 84% accuracy. The questionnaire is called the “Puppy Training Supervisor Questionnaire”, or PTSQ.

The PTSQ evaluates the following:

  • Adaptability
  • Body sensitivity
  • Distractibility
  • Excitability
  • General anxiety
  • Trainability
  • Stair anxiety

If this method proves to be accurate over time, it might be useful to help evaluate other types of working dogs. It is encouraging that scientists continue to try and find ways to predict the working ability of dogs. This saves organizations time and money spent on dogs that do not pass the training programs and lets them focus on those that have a better chance of passing.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170614142551.htm

 

 

 

A new study about co-sleeping with your pets

A recent study examined the practice of sharing a bedroom or bed with a dog. While the authors suggest that more research is needed, they compared sleeping with a dog to the practice of sharing a bed or bedroom with a child.

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The current concern about co-sleeping with a child focuses on the child suffering from poor health, impaired functioning, developing problematic behavior and sexual dysfunction. However, there is not enough evidence to determine if there are negative effects of co-sleeping with dogs or other pets.

According to the study, the benefit of co-sleeping with both pets and children are saving resources, keeping warm, and feeling safe. It is a practice that has been going on for many years.

When it comes to sharing a bedroom with a dog, as an animal behavior consultant, I recommend letting a puppy sleep in a crate in the bedroom to help the puppy bond with the family and feel safer in a new environment. After the dog is trained and under control, it can be allowed to sleep on the bed with a family member. However, if the dog is not trained it can become possessive of the bed or other furniture to the point of becoming aggressive if a family member wants to move the dog. Whether it is good or not depends on many factors, including the dog’s temperament and the owners ability to train and control the dog.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170622104001.htm