Candle dangers

While this topic does not directly relate to animals or our pets, I felt it was important to post. House fires can kill both people and pets. Please check out the link. House fires can cause forest fires and harm wildlife. Thank you to Wes Keller DCNR for sending me this link.

http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Top-fire-causes/Candles

Collecting DNA from the air

DNA has been collected in various way, including soil and water, now scientists have proven that environmental DNA (eDNA) can be collected from the air.

Both plants and animals shed DNA in the environment that they interact with. Dr. Elizabeth Clare, of the Queen Mary University in London has stated that ecologists and conservationists are always looking for non-invasive ways to monitor biological environments, collecting DNA from the air provides one way to do this.     

An added benefit to monitoring eDNA is that it will allow researchers to study the transmission of airborne diseases. What the study does not mention is how long the eDNA exists in the air. However, it is an interesting and beneficial step in the right direction that will benefit the health of all living things.

How high sugar affects memory in animals and people

Although this article is not specifically about animals, I thought it was important enough to include on my blog site.

A research team from the University of Georgia has conducted a study about how sugar affects the brain. I have quoted part of the article below. Based on this research I would caution pet owners, especially those people who have puppies that are slated to be working dogs, to watch the dog’s sugar intake. We do not know how this finding affects other animals. People who have younger children should be especially careful since they tend to share their treats with their pets which could significantly raise the pet’s sugar level.

“New research led by a University of Georgia faculty member in collaboration with a University of Southern California research group has shown in a rodent model that daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages during adolescence impairs performance on a learning and memory task during adulthood. The group further showed that changes in the bacteria in the gut may be the key to the sugar-induced memory impairment.”

Mechanical disease-sniffing device vs dogs

A number of researchers from various universities have joined together to try and develop a mechanical device that can rival the scenting ability of dogs to detect diseases in people. No one denies that dogs have a remarkable ability to detect the early stages of disease in humans. But the cost of training the dog and the dog’s length of service makes using them expensive. If scientists can develop a device that can equal a dog’s nose it would reduce a lot of the cost.

What has proven elusive to scientists is that dogs can pick up connections that researchers cannot mimic in a machine. For example, some dogs that have been trained to detect one type of cancer will identify other types of cancer as well. When the researchers tried to determine what the dogs were detecting, they were not able to. The differences were not detectable by current tests. What complicates the problem is that the different cancers that were detected by the dogs do not have any biomolecular signatures in common. The dogs were able to generalize from one kind of cancer to be able to identify others.  

The detection system that has been developed is 200 times more sensitive than a dog’s nose but the machine cannot figure out the elusive patterns that the dog can, that allows the dog to detect various cancers. In other words, the machine cannot think and make the connections. Until the researches solve the mystery, the machine cannot replace the dog.

The important point for people who use dogs for scent detection work is that dogs are capable of analyzing scent in a much more complex way then they have been trained to do. The bottom line is that if your scent dog gives you an indication that does not make sense to you, trust your dog and look further.

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.

Birds spread Lyme’s disease and ticks

A new study by Global Ecology and Biogeography with lead researcher Daniel Becker, a postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University developed a model that identified, with an 80% accuracy, the species of birds that spread Lyme’s Disease. They found 21 new species that spread the disease.

The research team found about 102 other studies that showed Lyme disease infection from ticks feeding on the birds. There were 183 species of birds that infect the ticks with Lyme’s. The birds have a broad range that spans the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

What this means is that even though the birds do not spread Lyme to people, the ticks on them can drop off of the bird into a garden or yard and then attach to a person. Because birds can fly great distances, they can spread Lyme’s disease to areas that previously did not have it or did not have a lot of it.

The study found that thrushes are the riskiest bird as well as perching birds and those that eat seeds and forage on the ground. 

Author’s note: Tick activity is always the strongest in the spring and fall where there are definite seasons. Always take precautions when outside, especially wearing long sleeves, long pants with your socks over the cuff of your pants. This prevents ticks from crawling up your pant legs. Use bug repellent and cover your head. After working outdoors, remove and wash all clothing and be sure to check your entire body for ticks.

Tick disease Powassan virus (POWV)

The good news is that researchers at The Wistar Institute have designed and tested the first-of-its-kind synthetic DNA vaccine against Powassan virus (POWV). This disease is an RNA virus in the flavivirus family the same as Zika.

google free photo

This tick-borne disease is fatal in ten percent of people who are infected. It causes detrimental neurological problems such as encephalitis and meningitis. It is passed quickly to a human from a tick and symptoms can occur anytime during the one-to-four-week incubation period. Symptoms include flu-like fever, body aches, skin rash and headaches.

Even though the disease is still rare, there has been an increase in cases in North America. The areas most affected are the Northeastern states and the Great Lakes region.   

Residents of these areas should be extra careful in the spring and fall when the virus is the most active. As we learned in SAR, you can take some precautions. If you work outdoors, even doing yard work, use bug repellent, wear long pants and put your socks over your pant cuffs so ticks cannot crawl up your pant legs. Wear a hat or scarf to keep them out of your hair and long sleeves. After working outdoors, be sure to take off all of your clothes and examine them and then wash them. Check your whole body, especially your back and other areas you cannot see easily. Take a thorough shower. With care, you can protect yourself from all ticks and tick diseases.  

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.