Deafness in Rottweilers

Researchers from the University of Helsinki and the Folkhalsan Research Center have located the variant in the LOXHD1 gene that causes deafness in Rottweilers. This type of deafness starts in puppyhood and progresses until the puppy is a few months old. The gene plays a key role in the function of the cilia of the cochlear sensory cells. Both humans and mice suffer from the same type of deafness.

The researchers also found deafness in mixed breed dogs that were part Rottweiler. The availability to test for the defect will help breeders avoid spreading this inherited deafness. Since this is a recessive issue, it will only occur in puppies if both the dam and sire have the gene.

Eradicating the defect will take the cooperation of all Rottie breeders. Those dogs that are mixed bred should not be used for breeding.

Author’s Note: It can be difficult to determine if a puppy can hear or not. Realize that dogs can feel sound, so it is important to carefully observe your puppy to determine if he is deaf. Especially if the puppy reacts to sound before he becomes totally deaf. To help dog owners determine if their puppy is deaf watch for a few signs. First, note if the puppy/dog only responds when he sees you. Do not assume if your puppy does not obey that he is being stubborn. Try clapping your hands behind the puppy when he cannot see you. If he does not react in any way, he may be deaf. A deaf dog will bark but usually only if he sees something. Watch to see if your dog looks at you or watches you more than usual. Remember that a deaf dog will rely on his other senses to navigate his world. You can successfully train a deaf dog but when they are in an unconfined area, they must be on a leash. A deaf dog is just as tempted to chase things, wander and stray as any other dog. Find a dog trainer that has experience training a deaf dog for help. If you suspect that your puppy is deaf, make an appointment with a veterinarian neurologist to have your dog tested so that you will know for sure if your dog is deaf or not. But most important, understand that a deaf dog can have a very safe and happy life.  

Cancer in Flat-coated Retrievers

Jacquelyn Evans and Elaine Ostrander, researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute have identified two regions of the canine genome that cause 1/3 of the risk of hematological cancer in Flat-Coated Retrievers.   

While this type of cancer is rare in humans, it does affect one-in-five Flat-coated Retrievers. This research overlaps with two loci that have been associated with other blood cancers in Golden Retrievers.

Image from Pixabay

As is often the case, the results of this study may allow researchers to identify candidate genes that will help develop new diagnostics and therapeutics for humans as well as dogs.     

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.