Identifying shelter dogs

Arizona State University’s Canine Science Collaboratory researchers Lisa Gunter and Clive Wynne collected DNA from over 900 shelter dogs that were at the Arizona Animal Welfare League and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (AAWL) in Phoenix, AZ, as well as the San Diego Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SDHS) in San Diego, CA.

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They found that although only 5% were purebreds, there were 125 distinct breeds that made up the mixed breed dogs. They also found that unless the dog was a purebred, shelter employees could only determine the mix  about 10% of the time.

Interestingly the three most common breeds were the American Staffordshire Terrier, Chihuahua and Poodle but they represented less than half the dogs in the shelters.

The researchers feel that since the bully breeds stay in shelters up to three weeks longer before being adopted, that the emphasis should be on the individual dog’s behavior to match them with their new families rather than the breed. They stress that a behavior assessment program would be very beneficial for shelter dogs.

I personally agree that each dog should be judged on its own merit rather than its breed. Labeling all individuals of a specific breed is profiling at its worst.

 

 

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Non-invasive test for liver disease in dogs

Veterinarians at the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies have worked with medical doctors to develop a blood test that can detect early liver disease in dogs. They based their studies on the molecule miR-122 which is found in humans who have liver disease.

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Their studies showed that dogs have the same molecule as humans and the team has developed a blood test that can be used on dogs.

Professor Richard Mellanby, who is the Head of Companion Animal Sciences at The Hospital for Small Animals at the University of Edinburgh has stated that the blood test provides a safe, non-invasive way to detect liver damage in dogs. Research in dogs has helped human illnesses many times, it is exciting that human tests can now help dogs.

What is important is that the blood test is safer to use than biopsies which can cause complications and can be expensive. I hope they continue the research to develop a blood test for cats and other pets.

The Very First Dog: Book Three in the Sam and Gunny K9 Adventure Series by Joe Jennings

The Very First Dog: Book Three in the Sam and Gunny K9 Adventure Series by Joe Jennings, ISBN: 9781791950033, $11.50, Self- published.

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This book is a novel and an easy read. It is suitable for young adults. The story blends Native American lore, archaeology and fiction into a very easy read story about a young boy and a search dog who have dreams or “memories” of the past. The story takes you back 15,000 years ago with a dream or vision quest by a young boy. He is called to find the wolves that his people have not seen in many years. A modern boy, Clay, has the dreams and tells them to his family as well as a paleontologist and an Arapaho medicine man who help him understand what he was dreaming. The key to the dreams is Gunny, the search dog.

The book is well written and flows nicely between the dreams and modern day. The interaction of the family is very realistic and relaxed. The main point of the book is to give the reader an idea about the theory of how wolves and humans co-existed and eventually became dogs. What I liked about this book is that Mr. Jennings does not try to claim that the events in his book are fact, but only a theory.

This is a great book to sit down with on a sunny day on the beach or in an easy chair on a rainy day. While it is an adventure, it isn’t a nail biting one.

Mr. Jennings is an excellent writer and having read his two other books, Ghosts of Iwo Jima and Ghosts of the Buffalo Wheel, I can honestly say I was not disappointed. You will enjoy this book.

Cruelty to dogs

Reese and Cassie Richard, an MSU master’s of public policy student who now works for the Oregon Commission for the Blind studied who is most likely to abuse a dog and why. They found that crimes that involve animal neglect are often committed by the owner. This would involve general care such as not giving a dog food or water.

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Kicking or stabbing a dog are often committed by a family member or an intimate partner.  It is usually the dog’s owners who engage in dog fighting, often driven by money. Poisoning a dog is typically done by neighbors. Their study also found that people who are more likely to shoot another person is more likely to shoot a dog.

They stressed that one way to reduce animal cruelty is to address the human aspect of the problem. Better animal cruelty policies, education and inter-agency communication would benefit both humans and dogs.

Canine Leishmania infantum can be transmitted to humans

Dogs contract Leishmania infantum from sand flies. Once the dog has it, the parasite can be transmitted to humans, especially young children. Currently Leishmania is found in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. However, as other diseases have spread, in the future this may also be a risk in other countries.

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Leishmania is a multi-systemic disease that is difficult to treat. However, the good news is that Laura Willen, of Charles University, Czech Republic, and colleagues prepared an immunochromatographic test (ICT) to rapidly screen dogs for the presence of P. perniciosus, a sand fly saliva protein.

According to a report, “The typical history reported by owners of dogs with clinical disease due to L infantum includes the appearance of skin lesions, ocular abnormalities, or epistaxis. These are frequently accompanied by weight loss, exercise intolerance, and lethargy. The main physical examination findings are dermal lesions in 80%–90% of the dogs, lymphadenomegaly in 62%–90%, ocular disease in 16%–81%, splenomegaly in 10%–53%, and abnormal nail growth (onychogryphosis) in 20%–31%. Other clinical findings may include polyuria and polydipsia due to kidney disease, vomiting, colitis, melena, and lameness due to joint, muscle, or bone lesions. The sole presenting signs of disease could be epistaxis, ocular abnormalities, or manifestations of kidney disease without dermal abnormalities.”

Aromatherapy calms horses

In a recent experiment by Isabelle Chea, a then-undergraduate honors student at the UA, and Ann Baldwin, UA professor of physiology and psychology, found that sniffing lavender calmed horses. However, the calming affect only lasted while they were sniffing the vapor.

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This is a good thing because the traditional method of calming a nervous horse is to use tranquilizers which remain in the horse after it is needed. However, sniffing the lavender can be used only when needed with no side or prolonged affects.

Professor Baldwin plans to try other scents and doses to see if they calm horses as well. I would love to see experiments on dogs and cats using various types of aromatherapy to calm them, especially for veterinarian visits.

Therapy dogs help children with ADHD

Many people have accepted the use of therapy dogs to help people in various ways. However, a study was done on children ages 7 -9 who were diagnosed with ADHD and had never taken medication to control it.

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Sabrina E. B. Schuck, PhD, MA, executive director of the UCI Child Development Center and assistant professor in residence in the Department of Pediatrics at UCI School of Medicine found that children with ADHD who received canine assisted intervention (CAI) experienced a reduction in inattention and an improvement in social skills.

They also found that the children who were in the CAI group had significantly fewer behavior problems over time than those treated without therapy dogs. This gives parents of children who do not want to use mediation an alternative treatment.

Male fertility drops in humans and dogs

According to research by the scientists at the University of Nottingham, there has been a 50% reduction in male fertility globally, for both humans and dogs. The study shows that there are two causes. One is DEHP a common plasticizer which is found in carpets, flooring, upholstery, clothes, wires and toys as well as the industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB). Although it has been banned world-wide, it is still found in the environment, including in food.

Another study shows that most of PCB 153 (90%) is ingested through food. The foods likely to have it are, fish and fish products, including fish oils which have the highest amount. Next are milk, eggs and dairy products and meat and meat products.

Another report has shown that foxes and deer also have the PCB’s and DEHP in their bodies. How did they get them? If wildlife has been exposed to PCB’s what about other animals such as cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, etc.?

At the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollution (POP), PCBs were classified as POP’s and precipitating countries agreed to ban all production of PCB’s and to eliminate them by 2025. But that does not help us today or those exposed previously.

What comes to mind for me are the “editable” products that are sold as a way to clean your dog’s teeth. Most do not advertise that they are 100% digestible. What are the non-digestible ingredients? Are they plastic or some similar product?

Many dog toys are made of plastic. How does this fit into the picture? What about other chew toys made for dogs? Do they contain PCB’s and other harmful ingredients?  These are all things to consider.

This is important information for the dog breeder who may experience a problem with the male dogs in their breeding program. It could be the answer as to why.

The good news is that scientists are working on a solution to solve the drop in male fertility rate and both dogs and humans will benefit from it.

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Worldwide, birds eat up to 500 million metric tons of insects

It is rather amazing how many insects’ birds eat a year. To give you an idea of how much they eat, one metric ton equals 2204 lbs.

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Most of the energy that birds get from eating insects (and seeds for seed eating birds) goes to maintaining their energy. Little goes to their body weight, according to a study led by Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel in Switzerland.

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This is one reason why it is important to offer a bird friendly habitat in your own backyard. Many birds eat both seeds and insects, depending on the time of the year and the weather. Woodpeckers that eat mostly insects will eat seeds in the winter when insects are scarce.

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A bird friendly habitat will offer shelter, food, water and nesting sites for all types of birds. Offering seeds and suet in the winter will keep insect eating birds in your area and that will benefit you and your garden in the warmer time of the year.

It is also interesting to note that spiders consume as much and more insect than birds. They eat between 400 and 800 insects a year.

America’s first dogs

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have proven that the first dogs that lived in the Americas were descended from Siberian dogs, not wolves. These dogs came with their human counterpart as they migrated over the land bridge linking Siberia with Alaska.

According to the researchers few if any modern dogs are related to these ancient dogs. It appears that the dogs died out after people from Europe came to the Americas.

They also discovered “. . . that the genomic signature of a transmissible cancer that afflicts dogs appears to be one of the last “living” remnants of the genetic heritage of dogs that populated the Americas prior to European contact.”

This latest research brings up the question of the heritage of the Carolina Dog which claims to be descended from the original dogs that were brought to North America across the Bering Strait. It would have been interesting if the researchers included this breed of dog in their study.

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Carolina Dog – (internet free photo) These dogs come in a variety of colors but many are tan