Canine genetics and behavior

Dog owners and breeders know that certain behaviors dominate certain breeds. For example herding dogs have the instinct to herd. Hounds have the instinct to hunt with their nose, some breeds are better guard dogs and the list goes on. This is what makes breed traits what they are. But it has been somewhat of a mystery about how this happens genetically because not all dogs in a particular breed have the same strength of the trait for that breed and some lack it entirely.

scout full body

In a new study, James A Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues Evan L. MacLean of the University of Arizona, Noah Snyder-Mackler of the University of Washington, and Bridgett M. vonHoldt of Princeton University conducted a study to try to unravel how genetics affect breed trait behavior.

Their study concluded that genes do play a large part in breed behavior, and those gene most affect the brain rather than other bodily tissues. However, they stressed that there is a large margin to allow for the differences between individual animals.

What this means to the dog owner, and especially the potential dog owner, is that getting a dog from a reliable, ethical and trusted breeder is critical to your dog’s behavior. The genetic tendencies can and do vary from line to line. It also means that if you adopt a mixed breed or purebred dog, you will have no idea what it’s genetically controlled behavior will be.

This is important to understand because if behavior issues arise, you will have to allow for the possibility that it is genetically influenced. The method that you use to alter any unwanted behavior that is genetically influence will be different than simple training methods. Always consult a certified behavior consultant. You can find one at www.iaabc.org.

Also keep in mind that genetically influenced behavior is not limited to dogs but is a part of the makeup of all living beings. Yes, environment and learning also comes into play.

Measuring device-critical in feeding your dog

Prof. Jason Coe from University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College did a study to see how accurately people measure dry dog food. While this may not seem like an earth-shattering study, it can have a huge impact of the health of all dogs. Coe found that 48 percent of the people tested underestimated and 152 percent overestimated the amount of food that they fed their dogs.

image6 (1)

This can cause dogs to be either underweight or overweight. Small dogs are especially at risk because even a small error in the amount of food can cause them to become overweight.

A two-cup measuring device was the least accurate form of measuring food. This is because it is hard to eyeball one half or one cup of food. A measuring device that is the correct size for the amount you want works better than the two-cup device. What works the best is a kitchen scale. This is the most accurate way to ensure that your dog gets the correct amount of food.

Of course it goes without saying that if you feed your dog table scraps or other items, you must account for that too. Yes, table scraps of a high quality are OK in small amounts. You also have to consider treats, especially if you are training your dog and using treats as a reward.

One of the culprits that I have found is if your dog is around small children, since kids often share their food with a dog. I have seen my grandson sitting next to my dogs and sharing, ‘one for you and one for me.’

It is always best to take notice of your dogs’ physical condition and if you see that they are losing or gaining weight, reassess what you are feeding your dog and how much. If there has been no change, sudden weight loss or gain does warrant a trip to your veterinarian.

Night blindness in dogs

Dogs suffer from the same type of night blindness as people. People who have congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB) have normal vision during the day but have trouble seeing things in dim light. Because dogs cannot tell us what they see or do not see, we can only assume that they have the same problem. We do know that they suffer from CSNB by their behavior. If you notice that your dog seems to be okay going out during the day but does not want to go out at night or acts uncertain when the lights in your home are off, you might want to have a veterinarian ophthalmologist examine your dog.

petey

The good news is that a team of veterinarians have proven that dogs suffer from CSNB and they have identified the gene that causes it. Once the gene has been identified, veterinarians can work to find a cure. That is exactly what veterinarians Keiko Miyadera and Gustavo Aguirre, a professor of ophthalmology and medical genetics at Penn Vet, and Rueben Das, then of Penn Vet and now of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, in collaboration with a team led by Mie University’s Mineo Kondo are doing.

As with inherited disorders and diseases that are common in dogs and humans, a cure for one will lead to a cure for the other.

Must-Have Smartphone Apps for First-Time Dog Owners by guest blogger Penny Martin

adorable-animal-breed-356378

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

There are some basic materials  you need to be a great dog parent. This includes the right dog food, a quality leash and collar, ID tags, and a supportive, cozy bed, just to name a few. And in this day and age, there are apps that can help you keep your dog safe, organize information, and stay on top of health concerns.

However, you also need a reliable smartphone that is compatible with the latest dog apps and that provides fast internet service. If your current phone is not up to the task, consider getting an upgrade. There are plenty of options to choose from, so you’re bound to find a model that’s easy to use, fits your budget, and allows you to access your favorite apps.

If you want the highest-performing model, consider something dynamic with enhanced features—something with exceptional battery life that helps you to stay constantly connected. The new iPhone 11 Pro is such a device. It comes with impressive battery capacity, a triple-camera and a 5.67-inch display height, among many other features that makes it an excellent choice for dog owners. Or you might consider the Samsung Galaxy S10+, an Android option that includes a dual-aperture camera, long battery life, and enhanced integration with Windows systems.

THE APPS

Now, since using apps is a major benefit of having a good smartphone, let’s discuss some of the best dogs apps on the market:

FitBark

It’s exactly what it sounds like—the dog version of FitBit. When used in conjunction with FitBark dog activity monitors,  PCMag notes the FitBark app helps you to keep track of your pup’s daily activity and health status. Also, it tracks their sleep and will alert you of any activity that suggests your dog is dealing with stress and anxiety. It will even monitor how much your dog scratches in certain areas so that you can check them for a skin condition. And yes, you can connect the app to FitBit and exercise with Fido!

Whistle

Used with a tracker, the Whistle app  can monitor your dog’s daily activity and health. But its primary function is GPS tracking. By attaching the tracker to your pup’s collar, the Whistle app allows you to always know where your dog is, whether Fido is just in the backyard or has wandered off of your property. The app uses AT&T nationwide LTE-M network and Google Maps for easy and accurate tracking.

Chewy

As Best Company explains, the Chewy app  makes getting supplies for your dog as easy as possible. With more than 1,000 brands to choose from, Chewy will sell and deliver food, toys and other supplies to your door; and for orders of $50 or more, they provide free two-day shipping. When you create a profile for your pup, the app will show you the right kinds of food for his breed, and you can even set up automatic shipments to come each week or each month.

Pet First Aid

When it comes to preventing emergencies, and dealing with them if they happen, Pet First Aid  is the best app for dog owners. Developed by the American Red Cross, this app offers simple, step-by-step guides on how to treat Fido from home and routinely check on his health—including videos and graphics for some of the most common emergency and first aid situations. Furthermore, Pet First Aid provides information on preventative care and can direct you to nearby veterinary hospitals in the event of an emergency.

Becoming a dog parent is a big step in life. With the joys of your newfound companionship comes a host of responsibilities you may not be used to. But don’t worry, as long as you love dogs, you can be a great dog owner! Just make sure you have all your essentials and remember to take advantage of all the great dog apps available.

Dogs and bones

UCLA evolutionary biologist Blaire Van Valkenburgh has spent over 30 years studying broken teeth in carnivores of all kinds. She has come to the conclusion that broken teeth in carnivores that lived thousands of years ago to the present, are linked with food availability. Her conclusion is that as food becomes less available, carnivores will eat more of the kill, leaving less of it. This includes eating the bones. She maintains that when there is enough food a carnivore will not eat bones to protect their teeth. If a carnivore has broken teeth, they cannot kill and eat food as well.

woody & lily

Why is this important to us? Her study shows that given a choice; carnivores will not chew on bones. This includes wolves, coyotes, foxes and other similar canids. So it brings up the question, is it wise to give our pet dogs bones to chew on? I have always maintained that it is not a good idea to give dogs bones to chew on. That it is not what they would do given the choice. Most dog bones are scented or stuffed to get the dog to chew it. Dogs that are aggressive chewers have broken their teeth on bones.

Some of the risks to giving a dog bones are:

Broken teeth

Mouth or tongue injury

The bone can get caught on the lower ja

The bone can get stuck in the esophagus, windpipe, stomach, and/or the

Intestines

Bones can cause constipation

Bones can cause severe bleeding from the rectum

Bones can poke holes in the stomach and intestines causing a bacterial     infection

And while I am writing this article, I will warn my readers that it is also dangerous and unnatural to feed dogs any form of rawhide from any type of animal, as well as antlers. These things can kill your dog or cause intestinal blockage requiring surgery. There is also the risk of toxins and decay that is associated with the processing of rawhide. The main source of rawhide is from slaughterhouses where cows and horses are butchered. Much of it is processed in China where they do not have the regulations that exist in other countries. So the best thing is to be careful about what you let your dog chew.

Life-threatening heart arrhythmia’s in dogs

Although it is rare, some dogs, often Labrador Retrievers, suffer from life-threatening, arrhythmia caused by atrioventricular accessory pathways (APs).

APs are abnormal electrical circuits in the heart that can become activated and overcome the heart’s normal current pathways, severely impairing the heart’s ability to pump.

img039

Accessory atrioventricular pathways are atypical muscle bundles that connect the atrium to a ventricle outside of the regular atrioventricular system. The traditional treatment is life-long medications and frequent trips to the veterinarian. However, Dr. Kathy N. Wright and her colleagues at MedVet, a family of emergency and specialty veterinary hospitals around the United States have used a technique that is successful in humans, to treat dogs.

What she has demonstrated is that radiofrequency catheter ablation is a safe and highly effective alternative to successfully treat dogs. RFCA uses radiofrequencies to destroy those rogue circuits and allow the heart’s normal function to resume. In her study, dogs were cured with one or two treatments.

Again, this is a case of human medicine benefitting dogs. It is encouraging to think that veterinarians and human doctors will continue to work together to make all of us healthier.

Millions of dogs affected by canine leishmaniasis

Canine leishmaniosis (CanL) is a major zoonotic disease found in more than 70 countries and has recently emerged in the United States. It appears that the breed most affected are Fox Hounds. The parasite is transmitted to dogs through the female sand fly and can be transmitted to humans as well.

images (9)

free Google image

The country most affected by this disease is Brazil where millions of dogs are affected. It can be transmitted to puppies through the mother. This how researchers think that the Foxhounds in the US were infected, through breeding’s with infected bitches.

The good news is that the first clinical trial of the vaccine LeishTec™ in infected dogs shows that it can cure them of the disease. Previously LeishTec was used to prevent the disease. This discovery was made by the Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at the University of Iowa.

It is always good news when we learn of a treatment that not only saves dog’s lives and has secondary benefits to humans as well.

Increased health issues in chocolate Labrador Retrievers

In a study conducted by Professor Paul McGreevy, from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Science  they found that chocolate Labrador Retrievers have a shorter lifespan, have a greater tendency to be overweight, more likely to have ear inflammation (otitis externa) (twice as high in chocolate Labs), and were four times more likely to have suffered from pyo-traumatic dermatitis (also known as hot-spot) than yellow or black Labrador Retrievers.

images (8)

free internet photo

The researchers studied more than 33,000 United Kingdom-based Labrador retrievers. They determined that in order to produce chocolate Labs, breeders used chocolate Labs for both the sire and dam. Because the chocolate color is a recessive gene it may increase the health issues associated with it.

It has long been known that the merle, piebald and harlequin color in dogs poses a greater risk of deafness. This is evident in the many breeds of dogs that have this coloration and have a higher number of deaf individuals. Therefore it is not surprising that the chocolate color in Labrador Retrievers can have a greater risk of health issues.

There is a solution to the deafness and Labrador health issues. Do not create this coloration in breeds that are not normally this color. For the breeds with deafness, only breed dogs that are not deaf and spay or neuter the puppies in a litter that are deaf. In all dogs, only breed for better health and temperament instead of for color. A dog’s health and temperament are what makes a great dog. Color on the other hand is purely for aesthetic reasons with no viable function.

 

Why You Should Consider CBD for Your Pets by guest blogger, Emerson Blake

They often say you can’t pick your family, which is mostly true. However, as many of us pet owners know, our family is not only made up of the humans living under our roof.

Having a dog or a cat can add something really special to a family dynamic, and guess what – we can pick them! As someone who has two dogs (and would have about five more if I could), I can speak first-hand to the type of bond I have created with these furry family members over the years. Our pets have this way of understanding us quite unlike anyone else can. They sense our joys, our sadness, our fears; and they constantly prove their undeniable loyalty through every phase of our lives.

selective focus photo of brown dachshund

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

As their owners, we take on the responsibility of being their caretaker, through sickness and in health. Their well-being is important to us and that’s why we are constantly seeking out ways to keep them healthy and/or aid in alleviating any health issues they may struggle with. With the increase in desire for natural health remedies, I think every pet parent should consider CBD  products for their pets as there are countless benefits that come from this natural supplement.

Behavioral and Situational Anxiety

Many of us are no stranger to owning a pet that suffers from anxiety; whether that be separation anxiety when we leave them home for a day at the office, or situational anxiety due to storms, fireworks, car rides, etc. CBD for anxiety works through the endocannabinoid system. This process allows the CBD compound to enter the brain, releasing serotonin and aiding in calming the body and giving relief to their anxiety.

Pain and Inflammation

As our pets get older, they tend to become more prone to experiencing pain and inflammation. Some of the most common health problems that cause pain and inflammation that can be alleviated by the use of CBD oil include arthritis, cancers, torn ligaments, sprains and surgery recovery. NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are typically prescribed to help treat the pain and inflammation that can come from these health issues; however, they commonly have adverse effects. CBD is a natural supplement and has shown to be much safer for your pets.

Skin Conditions 

Skin conditions are another health issue that CBD has been researched for treating. Many skin conditions stem from certain allergies that our pets may suffer from. Allergies could be related to pollen, grass, mold, other fur and even certain ingredients in their food. Because skin allergies typically increase a pet’s itching and discomfort, CBD is a great natural alternative to prescription creams and ointments. Using CBD for skin conditions can actually be done by having your pet ingest the supplement or by applying a few drops of oil (or other CBD topical product) directly to the affected area.

Nausea and Vomiting

CBD has become widely more popular for treating nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, so naturally, it has also started being used for the same in animals. While cancer treatment is one of the ways in which CBD is being used for animals, there are also more commonly occurring reasons pet owners have turned to CBD for nausea and vomiting  in their cats and dogs. Motion sickness, heat exposure and food intolerance are all common causes of nausea in pets, which can be aided by the use of CBD.

Being able to choose the furry friend that joins your family is a feeling like no other. Sometimes we look high and low for the perfect one, and sometimes, the perfect one just falls right into our lap. Whatever the case may be, we create a bond and a special kind of companionship that lasts even after they are gone. As their parents and their best friends, we are constantly looking for the best ways to keep them happy and healthy. Considering the use of a natural supplement like CBD has shown to have countless health benefits stemming from something as simple as every day separation anxiety to more advanced health issues. If you are someone who believes in the power of natural remedies and is seeking a way to better impact the health of your pets, I would consider looking into CBD, always keeping in mind to choose a brand that is reputable. You won’t regret your decision!

Sue’s Note: CBD is cannabidiol and although it is found in cannabis and hemp in most cases  CBD does not contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. This is because most CBD products are derived from hemp and not from marijuana.