Researchers at Cornell University have found that there is a neurological link between a dog’s sense of smell and their vision. This study shows that a dog perceives his environment using both vision and scent. This is the first time that scientists have found a neurological connection of this nature in any animal.
In addition, scientists have found that dogs have connections between areas in the brain that process memory and emotion which are similar to humans but that they also have connections between the spinal cord and the occipital lobe which are not found in humans.
This finding explains why blind dogs are able to function, being able to play fetch and navigate their surroundings much better than people with similar blindness. That is comforting for people who own dogs who are blind or have gone blind.
Author’s Note: Although blind dogs can find their way around better than people, it is still a good idea to not move furniture around. If you have to move or add furniture, you can put a unique gentle scent on the corners of the furniture at the dog’s level to help the dog locate and identify the new or moved object.
We also have to think about how the relationship between scent and vision affects dogs in terms of training and their reaction to the environment, taking into consideration personality traits such as friendliness, fear, aggression etc. While we know that many of the personality traits of dogs are inherited, is it possible that these findings might explain further exactly how and what is inherited. Many people do not realize how complex dogs and perhaps other animals are.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Veterinary Medicine discovered that male dogs, especially free roaming dogs, were four to five times likely to develop the Oro-nasal form of Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumors (CTVT) than female dogs.
CTVT is an unusual cancer that can spread between dogs that come in contact. This type of cancer is infectious because the living cancer cells can be physically transplanted from one animal to another. The researchers feel that the reason it is more prevalent in male dogs is because they spend more time sniffing and licking female dog genitalia.
The common symptoms are difficulty breathing, nasal deformation or bloody or other discharge from the nose and/or mouth. Fortunately, this type of cancer is treatable with Vincristine chemotherapy.
The researchers noted that transmissible cancers are found in Tasmanian Devils as well as marine bivalves such as mussels and clams.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.