New discovery may help cure dogs and humans with heart disease

Myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) and congestive heart failure in older dogs is age related and often affects small dogs. MMVD is the most common cardiac disease in dogs. Once a dog has congestive heart failure they are only expected to live between one and nine months.

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Researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University have discovered biomarkers in the extracellular vesicles of dogs with MMVD in the form of microRNA (miRNA) which circulate in the blood and urine. What is exciting is that this is the first biomarker based on extracellular vesicles in a veterinary disease.

MMVD is similar to mitral valve prolapse in humans, so this finding can eventually benefit humans with heart disease. While further research is needed, this is a wonderful finding that has potential to help monitor the progression of the disease as well as lead the way to developing treatment for both humans and dogs.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170714140437.htm

http://www.acvim.org/Portals/0/PDF/Animal%20Owner%20Fact%20Sheets/Cardiology/Cardio%20Myxomatous%20Mitral%20Valve%20Degeneration.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4048944/

 

It may be possible in the future, for humans to regenerate a new heart

As futuristic as it sounds, a recent study of the sea anemone shows that if you cut the anemone into multiple parts, each part will regenerate into a new animal. Scientists learned that if they can discover how to make the genes talk to each other, they may discover how to treat heart conditions and stimulate regenerative healing in humans.

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The genes in vertebrates and flies have what is referred to as lockdown loops. That means that once the genes are active, they tell each other to stay where they are. By learning how to unlock the genes or make them talk to each other, scientists hope to be able to imitate the sea anemone’s ability to regenerate.

Of course, if they succeed in doing this, all animals will benefit, including our beloved pets.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170626190625.htm

Rat lungworm can cause meningitis in humans and animals

Rat lungworm, a parasitic nematode, has been found in five Florida counties so far. The lungworm depends on rat and snail hosts to complete its life-cycle. To become infected, both humans and animals must eat the snails or infected frogs or crustaceans.

Although the fatality rate in infected humans is low, the parasite can cause eosinophilic meningitis if it dies in a person’s brain which can lead to a coma and/or death.

Adults who become infected suffer from headaches, stiff neck, fever, vomiting, nausea, and paralysis. Children suffer from nausea, vomiting and fever.

Animals that are infected can get meningitis, weakness in their limbs or even paralysis, neck pain and central nervous system problems.

Prevention involves washing produce since snails can be very small. Children should be taught not to handle or eat snails. If they handle a snail they must wash their hands. To prevent infection in pets, check their living area including watering troughs or dishes, and watch to make sure that your animals do not eat snails.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170628131625.htm

Keeping cats safe outdoors

Many cats enjoy being outdoors as much as dogs do, but unfortunately it is not safe to allow a cat to roam outdoors. There are many dangers a cat faces while outdoors that do not necessarily threaten a dog. Cats can be prey for large canines, including dogs, coyotes, wolves and even a fox.

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They are exposed to parasites of all types, including ticks, fleas, and various worms. This is especially risky if the cat catches small rodents.

Feral cats can also pose a problem by attacking and passing diseases to your cat. So what is a cat owner to do?

One option is to teach your cat to walk on a leash. Some cats enjoy doing this if they are taught properly. The first step is to be sure that your cat has a collar with ID tags or is micro chipped in the event that the cat should get away from you. Since cats do not like having pressure on their necks, you should use a harness for the cat.

The first step is to get the cat used to the harness indoors. You can do this by putting it on while you give the cat a special treat that they love and only get for wearing the harness. Clicker training the cat also works very well.

Once the cat is used to wearing the harness, you can lure the cat around your house with the special treat to get the cat used to walking with the harness on. As soon as the cat is used to that, you can attach a leash to the harness and lure the cat with the treat.

It is important to avoid pulling on the leash to get the cat to follow you, rather lure the cat with the treat.

Once the cat is willing to follow you, try doing it outside near your home or in your backyard. Gradually increase the distance that you walk with your cat. It is OK if you can only walk your cat in the backyard.

Keep in mind that your cat may be frightened by the outdoors and only feel comfortable in your backyard. Cats typically do not like noise and strange people if they are too close.

If your cat does not enjoy being outdoors on a leash you have other options. A nice window or enclosed porch can be enjoyable for a cat, or a cat “pen.” See https://www.pinterest.com/explore/outdoor-cat-enclosure/?lp=true for some ideas. Keep in mind that if you use a cat pen, you need to protect your cat from hawks as well, especially if the cat is small or a kitten.

Never force a cat to go outdoors if they do not enjoy being there. Some cats never get used to being on a harness. It is important to pay close attention to see if your cat is enjoying the experience. Some cats are very happy being an indoor only cat with a large window to look out of.

If your cat is one of those who do enjoy being outdoors, make sure that you check with your veterinarian to get tick and flea as well as parasite prevention measures to keep your cat safe. All of your cat’s yearly shots must be up-to-date as well.

Happy cat walking!

 

Excessive licking in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats will groom themselves by licking their fur. This is normal. They will lick their owners as a sign of affection as well. Licking can be a form of play and to let you know they are hungry. If the owner pays attention to their pet when they lick, it can reinforce the behavior, encouraging the pet to do it more often.

However, some pets will engage in excessive licking. Only the owner can determine if the pet is licking more than normal. Excessive licking is a compulsive behavior and the pet may lick everything in sight. This is not good for the pet and the family. Do not try to “correct” this behavior, it will only make it worse.

The first thing a pet owner must do is schedule a visit with your veterinarian. Excessive licking can be due to allergies, including food allergies. Other causes are boredom, stress, pain and diseases.

Try to recall if anything in the pet’s environment brought about the excessive licking. Changes are especially suspect, did you move, change the pet’s food, bed, alter the environment such as adding or taking away furniture, someone in the family moving in or out, a new pet, neighbor or any other change that the pet is aware of. Even a family member changing jobs, or a family crisis can affect a pet.

The easiest way to correct excessive licking is to give the pet an alternative activity. If the pet is a dog, give the dog a chew toy when he starts to lick. Praise the dog for chewing the toy. If the pet is a cat offer a toy for the cat to play with and interact with the cat. Be sure to give the pet a good rubdown or petting when they stop licking. If the pet tries to lick family members gently say “no” and give them something to chew or an activity.

If the excessive licking was due to a change in the home environment it may take a few weeks for the pet to adjust to the change. If the behavior does not stop or if it increases, it is best to consult with a certified canine or feline behavior consultant. You can find one at www.iaabc.org  With time and patience, excessive licking can often be cured.

Diarrhea and vomiting in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats can develop diarrhea and vomiting for several reasons. One of the most common causes for diarrhea is a sudden change in diet, such as changing the pet’s food. High quality food is always better but if the pet has been eating poor quality food and then is switched to high quality food too quickly, diarrhea may result. If you are going to change your pet’s food it should be done gradually over at least a week. Keep in mind that high quality food is only available in specialty shops. Examples of high quality food are Wysong and Annamaet.

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Sometimes a pet will eat garbage or other food that they find and that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Eating grass often results in vomiting.

However, unresolved diarrhea and vomiting can be a sign of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in both dogs and cats. It usually occurs in middle age, in older pets and certain breeds of dogs. Those breeds are: Basenjis, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, German Shepherd Dogs, Yorkshire Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Shar-peis, Rottweilers, Weimaraners, Border Collies, and Boxers.

IBD can be managed with daily medications and regular visits to the veterinarian. If your pet has diarrhea or vomiting for 24 hours or more, you must get them to your veterinarian right away. Even if it is not IBD, your pet is at risk of dehydration.

For an excellent article go to:

http://www.vetdepot.com/in-depth-look-at-inflammatory-bowel-disease-dogs-cats.html

Whole genome sequencing is helping to identify rare feline genetic disorders

 

Whole genome sequencing looks at the complete DNA sequence to identify anomalies that cause disease. This process allows veterinarians to provide more effective treatment for the diseases that they identify.

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Scientists at the University of Missouri, using the 99 Lives Cat Genome Sequencing Consortium established at Mizzou by Leslie Lyons, the Gilbreath-McLorn Endowed Professor of Comparative Medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine, have identified genetic variants that cause progressive retinal atrophy and Niemann-Pick type 1 which is a fatal disorder in domestic cats.

These studies will help domestic cats as well as their close relative the African black-footed cat which also suffers from these disorders.

DNA sequencing has helped in previous studies by identifying a genetic link between degenerative myelopathy in dogs and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in people.

It is exciting to read about the progress that is being made by scientists that will eventually help both people and animals live a longer, quality of life.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170511115938.htm

Allergies in Pets

Pets suffer from allergies the same as people do. They can suffer all year long or only at certain times of the year depending upon what they are allergic to.

They can be allergic to many things such as the dander from other pets, mites, fleas, pollen’s, insects and foods. The places on the body that typically show the allergic reaction are: ears, underarms, belly, lower legs and feet. The signs typically are: itching, redness, swelling, pimple like bumps, sores that ooze, reoccurring ear infections and loss of fur. Sometimes a pet will pick at the area that irritates them by frequent licking or biting the area.

If you notice any of these symptoms you should take your pet to the veterinarian where a series of tests may be necessary to rule out other medical issues that could mimic allergic symptoms.

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If the problem is allergy related there are a number of medications, either taken orally or applied topically that can ease your pet’s discomfort.

Allergies are referred to as Atopic Drmatitis and unfortunately there is no cure for it. However, once your veterinarian determines what your pet is allergic to, they can give your pet allergy shots which in many cases reduce the symptoms significantly. Shots along with oral and topical treatment can give a pet quality of life again.

If your pet is allergic to a certain type of food, you can avoid giving your pet that food. Sometimes a low quality food can cause a problem for a pet. You should only give your pet high quality food. Food that is available at discount stores or the supermarket should be avoided.

For an excellent article, go to: http://www.vetdepot.com/in-depth-look-at-atopicdermatitis-dogs.html

Myotubular myopathy in humans and dogs, now there is hope!

Myotubular myopathy in humans and dogs causes a male infant to be born with muscle weakness which includes difficulty breathing, leading to death in infancy. This type of myopathy only affects the muscles and does not have any impact on intelligence.

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Dr. Ana Buj-Bello led a team of researchers in France (Genethon/Inserm) along with teams at the University of Washington and Harvard Medical School, have developed what could be a treatment/cure for this genetic defect which they have applied to dogs.

The team has developed and manufactured an adeno-associated virus (AAV) that works on a cellular level and gives the dog a normal copy of the MTM1 gene that travels to the entire body. The treatment is easy to administer, given by an intravenous injection and restores long-term muscular strength.

Myotubular myopathy is often found in Labrador Retrievers and Rottweilers. The puppies may appear normal at birth but by 7 – 19 weeks they develop muscle weakness, decreased muscle mass, a hoarse bark and have difficulty eating.  The puppies are usually smaller at birth, walk with a short, choppy gait, often falling over. Eventually the puppy cannot stand or even hold their head up. Dogs affected are typically euthanized by six months of age. Labrador and Rottweiler mixes are also affected.

Dr. Ana Buj-Bello’s work may be a life-saver for dogs and eventually people as well. Everyone who has a Labrador or Labrador mix or a Rottweiler, and considers breeding their dog should talk to their veterinarian about having their dog genetically tested to see if they are a carrier of this genetic defect. You can order or inquire about a test from: https://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/dog/CNMLabrador.php

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170405101918.htm

Cats can suffer from high blood pressure

 

Most people do not realize that cats suffer from high blood pressure the same as humans. High blood pressure or hypertension is more common in older cats and often goes undetected.

Hypertension in cats can cause a multitude of health issues, such as organ damage to the eyes, heart, brain, and kidneys and even blindness.

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The good news is that your veterinarian can easily check your cat’s blood pressure with a cuff that is put on the cat’s hind leg or tail. It is a painless procedure.

If you have an older cat it may be a good idea to have your cat’s BP checked when you get your cat’s yearly wellness check. High BP can be treated and treatment can prevent serious health issues. Talk to your veterinarian about your cat’s blood pressure.

 www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170301105503.htm