Short nosed or Brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) which can cause health problems, breathing difficulties and even death. Veterinarians have conducted research to try to determine if there is a way to predict which dogs will suffer from BOAS, (almost half the dogs in these breeds are affected). By determining which dogs will have BOAS, breeders can try to eradicate it from the breeds that suffer from it.
This photo shows a dog with closed nostrils making it difficult to breathe
In 2015 researchers at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London determined that dogs whose muzzles were less than half of their cranial length and dogs with thicker necks were more likely to have BOAS. However, they did not feel that this was a reliable way for breeders to select dogs for breeding.
More recently a new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge tried to compare neck girth with chest girth and muzzle length to see if that could predict BOAS. However, they found that it was not easy to measure dogs and it was not reliable. They did suggest that breeders should not use dog with very short muzzles, wide faces and thick necks for breeding.
Dr. Nai-Chieh Liu one of the researchers suggested that breeding for open nostrils is most likely the best and easiest way to improve these breeds. Researchers are going to try to find a genetic marker for BOAS to help improve Brachycephalic dogs to improve breeding programs.
People who own one of these breeds should have their dogs checked yearly for difficulty breathing even if the dog appears to be OK.
According to the latest research in the UK, GSD’s are most likely to die from complications due to musculosketetal disorders. Almost a half a million GSD’s were studied by the VetCompass™ Programme at the Royal Veterinary College.
The dogs surveyed came from 430 veterinary clinics. They found a total of 263 disorders, the most common were, inflammation of the ear canal (7.89% of dogs), osteoarthritis (5.54%), diarrhea (5.24%), overweight and obesity (5.18%), and aggression (4.76%).
According to Dr. Dan O’Neill, from the Royal Veterinary College, GSD’s have the second highest number of health disorders, with Great Danes being the first. According to the report, GSD’s suffer from an abnormal formation of the hip joint, cancer, and degenerative spinal disorders which he feels is a result of breeding for cosmetic features such as a sloping back and lower hindquarters.
This is the first study, which included 17 different breeds, whose goal is to help breeders improve the health of their dogs.
It would be interesting to see how the study compares with the health of GSD’s in other countries.
In a recent study at Oregon State University by Haley Leeper, a veterinary oncology resident at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine as well as Craig Ruaux and Shay Bracha, colleagues of Leeper in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, and Austin Viall of the Department of Veterinary Pathology at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine showed that higher cholesterol seemed to help dogs survive bone cancer longer.
They found that dogs with the malignant tumor, osteosarcoma, which is also diagnosed in humans, typically afflicting teenagers and young adults, that had high serum cholesterol lived on the average of 200 days longer than dogs who did not have high cholesterol.
Researchers plan to study why the high cholesterol helped dogs survive longer and perhaps learn ways to cure this type of cancer in dogs and humans alike.
I personally hope they come up with a cure for bone cancer, I lost my beloved Rottweiler to bone cancer many years ago.
According to Thomas Newsome of Deakin University and the University of Sydney in Australia, and co-author Aaron Wirsing, an associate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the rise of secondary predators such as coyotes, jackals and foxes is in large part due to the limits placed on the areas that wolves and dingoes range. He found this to be true in Australia and Europe as well as the United States.
Coyotes and foxes are very adaptable and can be found in suburban settings as well as more open areas. Their population has increased because their main predator, the wolf and dingo, does not have the ability to range far enough to keep them under control. Wolves need a large area to roam and even though re-location has increased their numbers in some areas, their ability to range is fragmented.
The team plans to study the impact that localization has on the environments where the main predators are the big cats such as jaguars, leopards, lions and tigers.
The genetic defect that causes hereditary blistering disorders of the skin, known as epidermolysis bullosa, in both humans and the Central Asian Shepherd Dog has been identified as being the same. The defective gene causes the skin to be easily damaged resulting in abrasion and blistering. There are four different types of the disorder, simplex, junctional, dystrophic and Kindler syndrome.
The defective gene causes a lack of collagen between two layers of skin. Without the collagen, the skin will blister.
Thanks to the gene researchers at the University of Helsinki, Marjo Hytönen, a member of the research group led by Professor Hannes Lohi and pathological tests conducted by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the defective gene was confirmed.
As a result, tests can be conducted on members of the Central Asian Shepherd Dog allowing breeders to select only those dogs that do not have the defective gene as part of a breeding program. Hopefully, researchers will be able to find a cure for humans.
Although the tiger is found throughout India, Southeast Asia and Russia, their numbers are dwindling. In an effort to save the tiger, Neil Carter of Boise State University and Teri Allendorf of the Univesity of Wisconsin-Madison, have researched how women in Nepal view tigers differently than men. Carter feels that women have more influence over the way communities feel about co-existing with tigers.
They have found that women are more likely to have an encounter with a tiger because they spend more time in the forest. They are less informed about tigers and how the existence of tigers benefit their economy, culture and ecosystem. Woman also have more influence over the way children view tigers. A more educated, positive attitude would improve the the way future generations interact with tigers.
Carter feels that understanding the difference in gender perception of wildlife may help people feel differently about grizzlies, wolves and other large predators in the United States in western states such as Idaho.
The Himalayan wolf is on the critically endangered list because they are so rare. Their existence and plight have become publicized by the efforts of an international research team led by Madhu Chetri, a graduate student at the Hedmark University of Applied Sciences in Norway. He has studied the wolf in the largest protected area of Nepal.
The Himalayan wolf looks quite a bit different then its European cousins. They are smaller in size, have a longer muzzle and shorter, stumpy legs. They are also marked differently with white around their throat, chest and belly and the inner parts of their legs. They also have a wooly coat.
A pair of Himalayan wolves in their natural habitat. Credit: Madhu Chetri; CC-BY 4.0
To me they look more like our modern Husky breeds, especially the Malamute and Siberian Husky. Siberian Huskies have been known to have an occasional wooly coat.
The researches feel that the Himalayan wolf is a separate branch of the wolf-dog family tree, making it especially rare.
As is the case with most wolves, the local farmers, ranchers and livestock owners hunted and killed as many wolves as they could, believing that they are a threat to their domestic livestock.
Hopefully, the researchers will be able to save this rare and unusual member of the wolf family.
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.
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.
Researchers in the University of Nottingham’s (England) School of Veterinary Medicine and Science have had success with a questionnaire designed to determine the suitability of puppies to be trained as Guide Dogs.
Their evaluation tool successfully predicted the training outcomes in young dogs 5 – 12 months with an 84% accuracy. The questionnaire is called the “Puppy Training Supervisor Questionnaire”, or PTSQ.
The PTSQ evaluates the following:
- Body sensitivity
- General anxiety
- Stair anxiety
If this method proves to be accurate over time, it might be useful to help evaluate other types of working dogs. It is encouraging that scientists continue to try and find ways to predict the working ability of dogs. This saves organizations time and money spent on dogs that do not pass the training programs and lets them focus on those that have a better chance of passing.
Paleogeneticist Claudio Ottoni and his colleagues from KU Leuven (University of Leuven) and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences did a study to determine the ancestor of the modern domestic cat. There are five subspecies of the wildcat Felis silvestris that are known today, but all skeletal remains look the same.
Therefore, Ottoni studied the DNA from bones, teeth, skin, and hair from cats found at archaeological sites in the Near East, Africa and Europe. The cat remains were from 100 to 9000 years old.
What they discovered was that all domestic cats descended from the African wildcat Felis silvestris lybica, found in North Africa and the Near East. What Ottoni could not determine is if the cats from Egypt were a separate group of cats or if they descended from the African wildcat.
What is interesting is that most if not all the ancient cats were striped. Few if any had spots or blotches such as today’s tortoise shell or “tortie” cat. Spotted cats did not show up until the Middle Ages. Since cats were taken on ships to control the rodents, they spread across the world and remains have been found at Viking sites near the Baltic sea.