Cat food formula surprise

Different groups of researchers are interested in learning how much wildlife cats kill for food. With this in mind researcher Roland Kays from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences decided to study how much wildlife domestic cats kill and eat to supplement the food they are fed by their owners. What they found was very surprising as well as important for cat owners.

The researchers found that they could not determine the amount of wildlife that cats eat because they were studying elements in cat food as a comparison. The reason why this study failed is because cat food manufacturers do not use consistent types and amounts of ingredients in their food. Even foods that were the same flavor and brand were inconsistent. The researchers found that the less expensive brands had more corn products and that the cat food produced in the United Kingdom had a lower amount of corn products.

Author’s Note: This information accounts for why some cats who like a certain brand and flavor of food will suddenly refuse to eat that food. Cats have a very acute sense of smell and they can detect the change in their food. Dog food is no better and dogs can suddenly reject a food that they liked previously. Changing the formula of dog or cat food can also induce loose stools and weight changes in a dog or cat.

Human breast cancer drug helps dogs with lung cancer

The HER2 gene which is found in women with breast cancer, has been linked with canine pulmonary adenocarcinoma (CPAC) in dogs. Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) which is an affiliate of the City of Hope and Ohio State University found that a drug, neratinib, can help the over 40,000 dogs who develop CPAC each year.

CPAC is an aggressive cancer that is similar to the type of human lung cancer that non-smokers develop. This study has given researchers more information about the genetics of this disease and treatment options that can help both dogs and humans.

Raw meat diet in dogs associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria

No matter what age the dog is, eating a raw meat diet causes them to pass antibiotic resistant Escherichia coli (E.coli) in their feces which can be transmitted to humans.

Researchers from the University of Bristol conducted an in-depth study of 823 dogs of all ages.

They found that dogs who lived in the country had a strong risk factor in passing antibiotic resistant E.coli but dogs who live in the city had more complicated risk factors that may be linked to the variety of lifestyles and exposure to other dogs.

E. coli is found in the intestines of both humans and animals and is a common cause of various diseases including urinary tract infection and can cause sepsis in other parts of the body.

The bottom line is that feeding raw meat to dogs is not safe for both the dog and humans. If a dog owner insists on feeding raw meat to their dog, they must be very careful of infection.

Male dogs more likely to develop Transmissible Venereal Tumors

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.

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.

Exploring a vegan diet for dogs

Many people are vegan’s and would prefer to feed their dogs an all-vegan diet. However, the traditional belief was that dogs were carnivores and need to eat meat. However, in reality dogs are omnivores and need a balanced diet. A recent study of 2500 dogs to determine the difference between a conventional diet, raw meat diet and vegan diet had some interesting results.

Dogs on a raw meat diet were healthier than those on a vegan diet and those on conventional diet were the least healthy. However, it should be noted that the researchers felt that the data was not conclusive because the dogs on raw meat diets were younger and less likely to be taken to a veterinarian. The researchers felt that people who had dogs on raw meat diets were less likely to seek veterinarian advice.      

The researchers felt that more studies need to be conducted. They agreed that feeding a raw meat diet has been linked to an increased risk of pathogens and nutritional deficiencies. They also considered that a nutritionally sound vegan diet may be the healthiest and least hazardous diet for dogs.  

Authors Note: Sifting through the dog food maze can be daunting. No pet food survey agrees which foods are the best. I have seen brands come and go, some start as top quality then change their formula to a very low quality. I have always believed that supplementing a high-quality commercial diet (which provides the balanced nutrients a dog needs) with table scraps (the highest quality food you can give a dog) with raw fruit and vegetables gives a dog all that they need. The brands of dog food that my research has shown to be the best are Wysong and Annamaet.

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.