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.

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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.

Dry or raw food for dogs

A study by researchers at the University of Helsinki have determined that there is a benefit to feeding dogs a raw food diet. They found that dogs eating raw food had better immune systems, more antioxidants and less inflammation of the skin.

The researchers stressed that the study was conducted on a limited number of Staffordshire Bull Terriers only and that more research is a necessity. However, the results of this study are promising.

Note: There are many advocates for feeding dogs a raw diet. Making your own can be a challenge as well as having a ready supply on hand to meet your dog’s needs. Many people claim that a raw diet has improved their dog’s health and even cured various medical issues.

There are a number of manufacturers who make a balanced raw food for dogs. Some people elect to make their own. This can be a challenge since the homemade food must meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs. As your dog ages those needs will change and so must the dog food. Dogs who have health issues must monitored by a veterinarian to be sure that their particular needs are being met.

Breathing difficulties in dogs

Researchers have found that a gene mutation is responsible for breathing difficulties in Norwich Terries and Bulldogs that is not related to brachycephalic faces. Brachycephalic faces can cause Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome or BOAS. Researchers found that Norwich Terriers can suffer from Upper Airway Syndrome or UAS which is similar to BOAS.

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The team from the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, led by Jeffrey Schoenebeck found that a mutation of the ADATS3 gene was linked to the breathing problems. This mutation is also found in French and English Bulldogs. The gene has been linked to edema, (swelling and fluid retention) which is a problem with UAS and BOAS causing breathing difficulties.

Once the researchers develop a test to determine which dogs have the gene mutation, breeders can better control breeding practices. What is important to recognize is that the mutation may occur in other breeds as well shedding a whole new light on breathing issues in dogs.

Hemangiosarcoma cancer linked to Bartonella bacteria

Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that dogs who have hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels have high levels of Bartonella bacteria. This leads researchers to believe that there is a connection between persistent infection and/or inflammation and some types of cancer.

Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is an aggressive, deadly cancer that comes from cells lining the blood vessels. It is responsible for two-thirds of all heart or splenic tumors in dogs, and is most common in medium-sized and middle-aged dogs.

What makes this difficult is that the bacteria are found in tumors and tissues but not detectable in blood samples. This indicates that Bartonella can survive undetected within tissue.

I have personally lost two dogs to cancer of the spleen. I hope that the researchers can develop a simple test to detect hemangiosarcoma and the Bartonella bacteria.

Jib, SAR dog who died from cancer of the spleen

Feeding indoor cats once a day is healthier

Many cat owners have been told to feed their cats up to four times a day. Some cat owners have a self-feed system where food is left out all day. What is surprising is that a recent study showed that cats are healthier if they are fed only once a day. Animal nutrition specialists in U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) and Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) conducted a study and found that cats who eat once a day were less hungry which might help prevent cats from becoming overweight.  

          The study showed that cats that ate once a day were more satisfied and burned stored fat which helped them keep a healthy body mass. They also had more protein which helps build and maintain body mass an important benefit for older cats to help prevent sarcopenia.