Canine hookworms resistant to treatments

            Hookworms are a common problem in dogs. These worms have a hooklike mouth that attaches to the dog’s intestinal tract. There are serious consequences if a dog in highly infested. Currently the most prevalent breed to have hookworms are Greyhounds. The conditions that they are raised and raced in is conductive to the spread of hookworms.

            Because of the widespread adoption of racing greyhounds’ hookworms are spreading to other dogs as well. A dog does not have to ingest the worms to become infected. The larvae live in the soil and can burrow through the dog’s skin and paws. Also, a female can pass the worm to their puppies through their milk. Hookworms also can infect people.

            What is upsetting is that veterinarian researchers have found high levels of hookworms in dogs that were treated. It is important that dogs are retested after a treatment to ensure that all of the worms have been killed.

            The most upsetting thing about hookworms is that they are becoming resistant to the three medications used to deworm a dog. The researchers are concerned that only the drug resistant hookworms will be left and will spread. Right now, the only deworming medication that is successful in killing the resistant hookworms is emodepside. However, that medication is only approved for cats.

            What a dog owner can do is avoid dog parks, where hookworms can live. Have your dog tested for worms frequently, especially if it is an adopted Greyhound, and make sure if your dog has hookworms, retest after treatment.

Juvenile epilepsy in Parsons Russell Terriers

When epileptic seizures caused the death in some Parsons Russell Terriers at six to twelve weeks of age, researchers delved into the cause. These puppies’ seizures were so severe that they died and medication would not help them. The researchers at the University of Helsinki found a gene disorder similar to the cause of Alzheimer’s in humans.

Riley, PRT

They developed a test that can determine if a dog carries this recessive gene. Because the gene is recessive, both the sire and dam must carry it to produce the defect in dogs. Therefore, it is essential that breeders of PRT’s have their dogs tested before they breed.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel have the most harmful genetics

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has been a breed for over 1000 years. However, during that time there were “bottlenecks” in the breeding of these dogs where only a small number of dogs were bred.

Researchers studied eight different breeds and found that the Cav had the greatest number of disease-causing genes than any of the other breeds studied. They are especially prone to heart disease.

picabay photo

Note: The study only sampled a limited number of dogs of each breed studied. While this is a good indicator, I would have liked to see a larger number of dogs tested from a wider geographical area. However, breeders who sincerely love their breed, what ever it is, can improve the breed by selective breeding for the right reasons. Too many people breed indiscriminately and do not test their dogs for genetic defects. As a canine behavior consultant, I have seen the results of this for my entire career.

Does my dog have separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a genetic issue. This means that owners do not cause it, however, they can bring it out in a dog and intensify it. Research has shown that dogs that are noise shy, such as a fear of thunderstorms tend to also have separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is a panic attack and is very similar to a panic attack in people. It is not fun to have and if it happens often enough, such as when a dog is left alone frequently, can cause the dog’s quality of life to degrade. Imagine being afraid for eight to ten hours, five or more days a week. It is also important to understand that separation anxiety is very stressful, and a dog’s health is affected the same as a person from constant stress. Therefore, separation anxiety not only destroys a dog’s mental health, but can also harm their long-term physical health as well.

Riley – Parsons Russell Terrier

Before you determine that your dog has separation anxiety, you must rule out medical issues that can cause the same symptoms. This will require a thorough examination by your veterinarian. The examination should check for the following:

CBC, Chemical profile, thyroid profile, urinalysis and fecal exam, dental health, GI distress, diabetes, renal failure, colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

After you have ruled out any medical reasons for your dog’s behavior you can then examine the behaviors.

Before you label your dog as having separation anxiety, you must determine if your dog is simply behaving as a normal dog. Puppies, chew and destroy things. Is your dog completely housebroken? Is something teasing your dog outside of your home, making him bark? Is your dog marking? Did you change his food or give him a treat that made him unable to wait to eliminate?

A dog can have various levels of separation anxiety. Like any fear or anxiety, it gets worse the longer the dog has it. Older dogs tend not to respond to treatment as well as younger dogs. Therefore, the behavior associated with separation anxiety will not just “go away” or get better with time. It will get worse until it could reach a level were the dog harms himself.

The symptoms are:

Pacing, drooling, vocalization, destructive behavior and inappropriate elimination of urine and feces, usually randomly throughout the house. Often the feces will have mucus in them and do not appear the same as normal stools.

If you determine that your dog does suffer from separation anxiety, it is best to contact a certified canine behavior consultant because the treatment can vary widely and should be tailored to your living arrangements and the dog’s needs. In some cases, medication may be necessary and, in that case, you would need to consult with a veterinarian behaviorist who understands which medications are best and how to administer the medications and how to wean your dog off of them. A non-veterinarian behavior consultant who understands the medications can work with your veterinarian.

The question that I am often asked is how can a person determine if a puppy is prone to separation anxiety. There is no hard and fast rule, but typically if a young puppy cannot be crated, it is often a good indication that the puppy is prone to separation anxiety.

Remember, the sooner you address the problem the better the chance you will be able to get it under control. All behaviors are learned very quickly. An example is a dog who becomes frightened of thunderstorms and as he experiences more storms, he learns that as the barometric pressure changes, a storm is coming and starts to shake before the storm arrives. He will even act as if a storm is coming when the pressure changes and no storm comes.

The breeds that are most likely to have separation anxiety are:

            Labrador Retriever

            Border Collie

            Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

            Jack Russell Terrier

            German Shepherd

            Australian Shepherd

            Bichon Frise

            Vizsla

To find a qualified behavior consultant go to www.iaabc.org

Cats, the new source for genetic research

Scientists use dogs and other animals to learn about genetically related diseases and illnesses that are common to animals and humans. By developing a cure for an animal disease, they often have breakthroughs for curing similar human diseases. One species that has been overlooked in this process is the common domestic cat.

Leslie says Lyons, of the Department of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery at the University of Missouri has explored this option. According to Lyons, cats can be an important asset in understanding the genetic “dark matter” that makes up 95% of DNA. Lyons has found that cats have genetic diseases that are related to the dysfunction of their genetic dark matter.

Lyons feels that cats could pay a role in developing precision medicine for genetic diseases. This could allow scientists and medical personnel to fix the actual gene and what the gene does instead of treating the symptoms.  

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.     

The relationship between dogs and their owners stress level

The researchers are Linköping University have determined that the stress level in a dog’s owner has an affect on their dogs. However, they took this study a step further than previous studies to see if the link between dogs and their owners was different for different breeds of dogs.

The first group of dogs were from hunting breeds that were bred to be independent. The second group were from ancient breeds such as the Shiba Inu, Basenji and Siberian Husky. They compared their recent study to a previous study of herding breeds.

They found that long-term stress was least likely to influence the ancient breeds. The hunting breeds showed links between the personality of the owner and their relationship to their dogs. The herding breeds had a unique synchronization with long term stress in their owners.

Author’s note: Research of this nature will help us explain and understand behavior and training issues that may arise between dogs and their owners. It is also worth considering when matching the right breed for a family or individual person. Not all people are a good match with each other, not all dogs are right for each person either.

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.”