Living with dogs has an unusual benefit – prevention of Crohn’s disease

Researchers used an environmental questionnaire to evaluate 4300 people related to family members who had Crohn’s disease. Interestingly they found that one of the factors that surfaced was that children between the ages of 5 – 15 who lived with dogs and/or a large family were less likely to develop Crohn’s disease. The study did not indicate that living with cats had the same benefit. Other factors also came into play, and the connection is not entirely clear, but it is promising and warrants further research.

Artificial intelligence can now analyze animal behavior

Researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich have developed an automated way to analyze the recordings of animal behavior. The program uses computer vision and machine learning that can distinguish individual animals. The AI program can identify specific behaviors such as curiosity, fear, stress, anxiety and discomfort and harmonious social interactions.

Google free images

The advantage is that this technique can be used by many scientists which will allow them to compare results. It saves the researchers hours of viewing recordings of animals.

The application will be especially useful for the animals kept in zoos to determine their behavior and detect any problems that might go unnoticed by zoo keepers.

Author’s Note: Perhaps this will lead the way for veterinarians to better able to detect pain in pets.

Adverse reactions to anesthetics in dogs

Some dogs have adverse reactions to the drugs used in anesthetics. This is due to a rare genetic mutation that originally was associated with Greyhounds, but further research shows that other breeds as well as mixed breeds have the mutation. These dogs also have difficulty breaking down other drugs as well as those used in anesthesia.

The mutation was also found in dogs related to Greyhounds such as the Borzoi, Scottish Deerhound, Italian Greyhound, and the Whippet. It was also discovered in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and a few other breeds. These dogs have difficulty breaking down commonly used anesthetics midazolam, ketamine and propofol.    

Fortunately, the scientists and veterinarians at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine are developing a cheek swab to identify dogs who have the genetic mutation.  

Knee injuries in dogs

Dogs who compete in agility and flyball and lack core strength have a higher rate of cranial cruciate ligament rupture which is similar to ACL in people.

According to Dr. Deb Sellon, a Washington State University veterinarian, some types of exercises and the size and shape of the dog increase the risk of knee damage. The exercises that increased the risk were short walks, runs over hilly or flat terrain, even if done on a weekly basis. The exercises that seem to help build core strength are balance exercises, and wobble boards. Dogs that competed frequently in agility at a higher level (more technically rigorous courses) built more core strength.

good core strength for SAR training

Regular exercise such as swimming, playing fetch or frisbee, walking or running didn’t increase or decrease the risk of injury.

It seems that Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers and Australian Cattle dogs were high risk breeds. The researchers also felt that having or not having a tail could be a factor.

Prostate cancer, dogs and humans

There is a new development that could lead to better treatment and even a cure for prostate cancer in men, thanks to dogs.

Dog share similar biological conditions as humans with prostate cancer. Older dogs suffer from this cancer the same as men. Scientists at the University of Tokyo have discovered that dogs are more similar to humans than mice. This has enabled them to develop an antibody drug that is cloned from other white blood cells that blocks the CCR4 receptor. Pre-clinical studies have shown this therapy to be successful, thus helping dogs and potentially men too. Dogs are again man’s best friend.

How old is your dog, really?

The old standard that one year of a dog’s age equals seven years in human age, is not true. Consider that some dogs live to be 20 and others are very short-lived. Dogs also share many of the medical issues associated with aging that people have. To further understand the aging process in dogs, a team of scientists are studying “normal” aging in dogs to unravel the aging process. They want to understand what makes one dog live longer than another.

The Dog Aging Project, (DAP) will conduct their studies for at a minimum of ten years to unravel the mysteries of canine aging. So far, they have studied more than 32,000 dogs, all pets privately owned.

They are especially interested in studying 300 of the oldest dogs. Pet owners can join the project by going to: https://dogagingproject.org

Very shortly the research team plans to open their huge data base which will be completely anonymized, to scientists around the world. As usual, new information about aging and health issues in dogs will help with medical research in people, and perhaps other animals as well.

How did small dogs become small?

The popular belief is that people domesticated dogs and then decided to breed them smaller, working down from the larger dogs. But the latest research has shown that this may not be true. The gene for small dogs existed long before dogs were domesticated.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have identified a mutation in a gene related to the growth hormone that causes small body sizes in the DNA of a 54,000-year-old wolf which existed before domestication.

Today’s dogs only have 25 known genes that regulate body size, making it easier for researchers to further investigate how they work. Future studies may help breeders produce better dogs with less defects.

This study is important because it shows that the common belief that purebred dogs have more defects than mixed breed dogs is not always true. This study illustrates those defects such as size, existed pre-breed creation. Also, by identifying and understanding the gene that causes size defects such as dwarfism, which exists in humans and dogs, then there may be a future way to identify and possibly prevent these defects.

Dogs can suffer from ADHD and OCD

Dogs share many things with humans, both in their physical and mental health. It is important to understand that your dog’s behavior may not be deliberate on the dog’s part, or a result of his environment, but a result of a type of mental illness.

A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Helsinki, found that dogs suffer from hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention similar to the behavior of humans who have ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The researchers found that a dog’s age and gender combined with the owner’s experience made a difference in the 11,000 dogs studied. Hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention were more common in young dogs and male dogs, the same as young children and males in humans.   

The researchers also found that dogs suffer from an Obsessive/Compulsive type behavior that mirrors the same disorder in humans. OCD often shows up in people who suffer from ADHD as well. In dogs it can manifest itself as such behavior as: continuous tail chasing, licking objects or themselves and staring at things.

The researchers also noted that certain breeds of dog are more likely to exhibit ADHD and OCD behaviors than others.

It is important to understand that if a dog exhibits these behaviors, that they cannot help themselves and should not be punished or otherwise subjected to aversive training methods to try and change the behavior(s). If a dog exhibits ADHD or OCD related behaviors, contact a certified canine behavior consultant for help. However, it would be diligent to the prospective dog owner to carefully research different breeds and breeders. Also avoid designer breeds, they are typically not well bred and are often a mix of puppy mill stock. If anyone would like my free brochure about how to find the right breed and breeder, please feel free to contact me.

Help for overweight dogs

Many people tend to overfeed their dogs. This is especially a risk when there are children in the household. Dogs are very willing to eat all dropped food and older children tend to sneak their dog treats or share what they are eating with them. Guess what, adults do the same thing as well.

If the dog is a large dog, they can often handle the extra food. But small dogs cannot and quickly become overweight. Because owners do not weight their dogs at home, the weight can slowly accumulate until one day the owner notices that the dog has gotten fat.

The other contributing factor to overweight in dogs is that owners often do not exercise the dog as much as they need. Bigger dogs need longer exercise sessions since their stride covers more ground than a small dog. Many people do not have the stamina or space to properly exercise a large dog.

Just like people, dogs suffer health issues from being overweight. It can be hard for an owner to put their dog on a diet. Those begging eyes are hard to resist when you know that your dog is hungry because you have put them on a diet.

The good news is that a study conducted at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign campus has found that by putting a dog on a reduced calorie – high protein and fiber diet for 24 weeks reduced weight in dogs. It also showed that dogs body composition and inflammatory markers changed for the better and they did not lose muscle mass.

Keep a close watch on your dog, especially if family members tend to share their food with the dog to make sure that they are not gaining too much weight. If they do, consult with your veterinarian to determine which dietary food your dog should be on. With extra care, you can help your dog live a long, healthy life.

Allergy shot for people allergic to dogs on the horizon

Researchers at the Osaka Prefecture University have identified potential candidates for those parts of the molecules that result in allergic reactions to dogs. If they develop this new finding, there could be an allergy shot to help people who otherwise cannot own or be near dogs enjoy dog ownership.

The long-range result may be that less dogs will be surrendered for adoption due to allergies to them and children may be able to grow up with that special companion.

The added benefit of this new discovery is that it could lead to other new allergy shots that will benefit people. Any progress in curing allergic reactions is a plus for overall health. Those people who suffer from allergies often suffer year-round. It is like having a constant cold.