Dogs monitor environmental chemicals

In a study conducted by North Carolina State University and Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, researchers attached a silicon tag on dog’s collars to collect the environmental chemicals that people (and dogs) encounter every day. What they found was interesting. The researchers had the dogs wear tags and their owner’s wrist bands for five days, then they compared the results.

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What they found was that there were similar patterns of exposure for both dogs and humans. The contaminants were mostly from the home environment. The researchers tested for three main contaminants, pesticides, flame retardants, and phthalates, which are found in plastic food packaging and personal care products.

The advantage of evaluating the contaminants in dogs is that diseases that result from these contaminants may take decades to show up in humans but only years to show up in dogs. According to Matthew Breed, Oscar J. Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology Genetics, if scientists can develop ways to link dog disease with these exposures, they may find a way to decrease the diseases for both dogs and humans.

I would like to see the tests expanded to other household pets such as cats. This is an interesting study and using the silicon tag is inexpensive and works well.

CBD for dogs

In a study at Baylor College of Medicine the researchers found that giving dogs with arthritis cannabidiol, or CBD brought relief from arthritis. It has also been used to reduce anxiety in dogs. As an aside, I know that when I give it to my dog before a thunderstorm, he is much calmer. It does seem to take about a half an hour to work but it does help.

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Dr. Matthew Halpert, of the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor conducted the research about arthritis and found that nine out of the ten dogs tested benefited from CBD. They also noted that the pain relief lasted for about two weeks after the treatments stopped.

It seems that CBD significantly reduces the production of inflammatory molecules and immune cells associated with arthritis. The improvement in the quality of life for the dogs was documented by both the dog’s owner and veterinarians. Since the structure of arthritis in dogs is similar to humans, the study supports future scientific evaluation of CBD for human arthritis.

However, it should be noted that the researchers found that the effect was quicker and more effective when CBD was delivered encapsulated in liposomes than when it was administered ‘naked.’ Liposomes are artificially formed tiny spherical sacs that are used to deliver drugs into tissues at higher rates of absorption. This means that buying CBD over the counter may not work as well or as quickly.

If you would like to try CBD, talk to your veterinarian first. It is never a good idea to administer any type of medication, natural or otherwise, without first checking with your veterinarian. I know from personal experience that although veterinarians use human medicines and herbal formulas for dogs, the dosage can be radically different for a dog.

Coronavirus structure clue to high infection rate

This is an interesting study and one that everyone should read. According to the study conducted by Gary Whittaker, professor of virology, is the senior author on the study at Cornell University, primates, cats, ferrets, and mink are the most susceptible to the human virus.

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According to Whittaker, further research into feline coronaviruses might provide further clues into SARS-CoV-2 and coronaviruses in general.

New strain of canine distemper in wild animals

A new strain of canine distemper has been found by pathologists with the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at the University of New Hampshire. The infected animals were from New Hampshire and Vermont. The animals infected are fishers, two gray foxes, one skunk, one raccoon, and one mink. This is a distinct strain has not yet been found in domestic dogs. There is no way to determine how many animals are or have been infected that are undetected by veterinarians and researchers.

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Symptoms of distemper in domestic dogs include respiratory disease, oral and nasal discharge, gastroenteritis and in advanced stages, neurological disease. If your dog should show any of these symptoms, take it to your veterinarian immediately. It is very important that you get your dog’s yearly shots to prevent infection.

What is important to note is that pathologists discovered that this distinct strain was identified in one raccoon in Rhode Island in 2004. This means that the disease has traveled.

The questions now are how far it will travel and how likely is it that some domestic dogs will catch it and spread it among the pet dog population. Dog owners should be diligent in watching their dogs, especially if they have an encounter with a wild animal.

Pets and autism

It has been fully documented that children who suffer from autism can benefit from living with a pet. However, a new study by Gretchen Carlisle, a research scientist with the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine has found that the parents of autistic children also benefit from having a pet in the family. Having a pet reduces the stress in parents despite the extra responsibility of owning and caring for a pet.

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The study goes on to stress that the right type of pet should be selected that will help the autistic child. They suggest that in some cases a quieter cat may be better than an active dog. Certain types of birds or small animals might also qualify as a pet. They also suggest that the child be included in the selection of the type of pet.

As a certified animal behavior consultant, I want to add that if the family decides to adopt a pet, extra care must be taken to ensure that there are no behavioral issues with the pet that could cause an extra level of responsibility for the parents. For any child, being forced to rehome a pet due to behavioral issues after the child becomes attached to the pet is not a desirable situation.

This is why it is important to thoroughly research the types of pets as well as the individual animal to make sure it is suitable for the spectrum of autism the child has. One way to do this is to consult with a qualified dog, parrot or cat behavior consultant (iaabc.org) or an experienced dog trainer if a dog is a consideration.

Petting zoos pose a risk of infection for humans and animals

Professor Shiri Navon-Venezia of Ariel University, Ariel, Israel and colleagues conducted a study to see if there is a risk of infection to both humans and animals. “Extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) and AmpC-producing Enterobacteriaceae (AmpC-E), which are resistant to a number of commonly used antibiotics, have become a matter of great concern in both human and veterinary medicine, so understanding the likelihood of them colonising the animals is critical to evaluating the risk that may be posed to visitors.”

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The researchers also found that if an animal was treated with antibiotics it was seven times more likely to shed MDR bacteria.

Petting zoos are important for educational purposes as well as bringing happiness to both adults and children. However, it is important that petting zoos provide hand washing stations. People who go to petting zoos should wash their hands before and after interacting with the animals.

While this study focused on petting zoos, the same rules should apply to fairs where livestock is housed for show and competition. Many people pet the livestock or walk near their stalls. It is important to note that some of the bacteria comes from the animal droppings, so care should be taken to clean the bottom of shoes before you enter your car or home. If you wear flipflops or another type of open shoe such as a sandal, it would be wise to wash your feet as well. This is critical if you own pets.

If young children are allowed to interact with animals, be careful that they do not put their hands on their faces, in their mouth or handle food before washing thoroughly.

Pets may suffer stress during a crisis

A friend of mine who is not a dog trainer or behaviorist, suggested to me that dogs may suffer from stress due to the current pandemic. That was very insightful of him. The more I thought about it the more likely it seemed. Therefore I am addressing this possibility.

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Anytime your routine changes and your pet, (mostly dogs and cats) notice the change, it can stress them. In the case of being home bound, as opposed to going on vacation or visiting, you are more likely to spend more quality time with your pet. This may mean more play time, more cuddle time, and more people at home collectively giving the pet attention. The pet will enjoy this and most likely be happy. However, some dogs and cats do not like the extra attention, especially from children, because they can suffer from over-stimulation. In some cases the pet will give subtle warnings asking to be left alone, but many people will not recognize them. The result may be a bite or a scratch. It is especially important to watch older pets who may not be physically able to handle the extra attention. If your pet does not seem willing to engage with you, leave him alone.

Family members may use the extra home time to groom their pets more frequently. In the case of older pets it is important to be aware that if they suffer from arthritis or a sore muscle from the extra exercise, brushing may be anywhere from uncomfortable to painful.

If the pet is younger and getting more exercise, watch their weight because they may need to eat a little bit more food since they are burning more calories. This is especially true for younger and physically fit older dogs.

We know that our pets feel and understand our emotions. As the pandemic continues, some members in the family may become more upset and stressful, your pet may react to this. They may cling to you or follow you around whereas they did not before. They may mope, or even avoid being as near to you as they normally were. They may pant more frequently, pace, or even tremble as their stress level rises along with yours. They may also react if the family members become short tempered or there is discord in the family. This is especially true if there are children in the home and they become irritated because they cannot see their friends or go out to play. Some pets are more protective of children and may react to their stress more than they would to an adult. A great activity for children is to read to the pet. It is calming for everyone.

Don’t forget that your pet does not understand the change in the family dynamics. They only understand what they see and experience. Therefore, it is equally important to watch how your pet reacts when you return to work or your normal schedule. At this time your pet may react to the sudden shift from having companionship 24/7 to being alone.

Rest assured that your pet will not forget what normal life was like, they do have the ability to recall the past, but again, they will not understand the change. More importantly, they may not like the change. It was certainly more fun having the family around all the time. To ease the shift back to normal, try to give your pet as much attention as you can when you first return to your regular routine. Gradually ease back to the normal routine that you had with your pet.

Fortunately our pets are very adaptable so many will not show any signs of stress due to the changes in our daily lives. But it certainly helps to keep a careful eye on your pet and to be aware that they know something is going on. Because they love us and care, they may react as they feel is necessary. Most important of all, show them understanding if they react in a way that becomes annoying to you.

Other circumstances that cause stress for a pet are:

Moving to a new home

Adding a new family member

Losing a family member

Changing the normal routine

Working more or less hours

Adding a new pet

Losing a pet in a multiple pet household

Remodeling

If your pet becomes too difficult to handle, feel free to contact a certified behavior consultant at www.iaabc.org Many of us can offer phone consults.

Airedale Terriers have an inherited lung disease

Breeders of Airedale Terriers in Finland sent the bodies of dead newborn puppies for examination to the Finnish Food Authority. At Evira, Professor Marjukka Anttila uncovered a problem in the puppies’ lungs. What they found was a defect in the LAMP3 gene that affected the puppy’s ability to breathe due to a failure in the lining of the lung.

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These are not Airedales. I couldn’t get a photo of one. Dog in the foreground is my Riley as a pup with his mother.  Parson’s Russel Terriers

After this discovery almost 7,000 dogs that included 300 different breeds were screened for the gene defect. However, it was only found in the Airedale Terriers. The researchers did discover that 1/5th of Airedale Terriers carried the defect.

The good news is that breeders can have a genetic test performed to determine if their dogs have the defect, thus preventing the spread. With total cooperation between breeders, eradicate the defect.

Researchers have said “As the LAMP3 gene has not previously been associated with diseases, in the future its role in the breathing difficulties afflicting newborn babies should be investigated.” This could be another case where a canine issue leads to a cure for humans. If this genetic defect is in 1/5th of Finnish Airedales, it may be in the breed worldwide.

Dogs suffer from hearing loss

A recent study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign confirmed that dogs can suffer from hearing loss the same as humans. What is important about this study is it shows that dogs can suffer from hearing loss due to loud noises. This is especially important for people who use dogs to hunt, and dogs that must work around loud noise such as airports and other types law enforcement jobs.

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If dogs must work around loud noise, you can get them Mutt Muffs, earmuffs designed for dogs. This will help prevent deafness due to loud noise.

The other causes of hearing loss are disease, inflammation, aging and hereditary (congenital). The breeds and individuals that have the Merle, piebald, and harlequin coloration are more likely to have congenital deafness. For example about 30% of Dalmatians are born with partial to total deafness. There are about 30 breeds of dogs that suffer from deafness due to genetics.

If you plan to get a puppy from one of the breeds that have a high instance of deafness, you can get a Baer test done to determine if the puppy has a hearing problem.

Better breeding can help reduce congenital deafness in dogs. If breeders avoid breeding dogs with the Merle gene, or who are deaf already, in time the instance of deafness will be reduced. In breeds where the Merle gene is not predominant, avoid breeding dogs that have the Merle coloration.

If you notice a change in your dog’s response to your commands, have him checked by your veterinarian to determine that your dog does not have an infection which is causing a hearing loss.

Most importantly, be aware if your aging dog starts to lose hearing, you will have to watch and be careful that your dog does not become injured because he cannot hear the approach of cars and other dangers. With care, a deaf dog or a hearing-impaired dog can life a long, healthy and safe life.