Your hit from last week’s dog and cat survey

Your hit from last week’s dog and cat survey

Your hit from last week’s dog and cat survey

Dogs think about their toys using multiple senses

It’s every dog ​​owner’s dream to know exactly what’s going on in their fur baby’s mind. Well, a new study published in the journal Animal Cognition has found that when dogs think of an object—such as their favorite toy—they imagine its various sensory characteristics, such as how it looks or smells.

“If we can understand what senses dogs use when looking for toys, it could reveal how they feel about it,” explains co-lead author Shany Dror of the Department of Ethology at Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary.

“When dogs use smell or sight when looking for a toy, it indicates that they know what that toy smells or looks like.”

In a previous study, the team had found that a few uniquely gifted dogs can learn the names of objects, so they examined how four gifted word learners searched for and recognized a target toy (alongside four other toys) both when the lights were on and off.

They found that while the dogs’ success rates didn’t differ in the dark or the light, their search behaviors did: Dogs relied primarily on their eyesight and switched to other senses (including their sense of smell) when searching in the dark.

This shows that when dogs play with toys, they pay attention to their various characteristics and register the information using multiple senses.

Genetic variants linked to disease in purebred cats

The largest ever DNA-based study of domestic cats has found that 13 genetic mutations linked to disease in cats are present in more pedigree breeds than previously thought.

Researchers genotyped more than 11,000 domestic cats (including 90 pedigree and pedigree types and 617 non-pedigree cats) to detect the small differences in genes associated with known diseases, blood type and physical traits in cats.

They identified 13 disease-related variants in 47 pedigree breeds or breed types in which the variant had not been previously documented. However, they also found that these variants decrease in frequency in breeds that are regularly screened for the genetic markers.

These findings highlight the need for comprehensive genetic screening for all cat breeds and are published in the journal PLOS Genetics

Ginger cat sitting on your lap
More than 11,000 domestic cats were genotyped in this study for blood type, disease and trait variants using Wisdom Panel’s commercial DNA testing of owner-submitted cheek swabs. Credit: Kinship Partners, Inc., Anderson H, et al., 2022, PLOS Genetics, CC-BY 4.0

An update on the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

The Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the most comprehensive prospective study in veterinary medicine. Researchers are following and observing a group of more than 3,000 golden retrievers in the US on a long-term basis to examine dietary, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other common diseases in dogs.

Every year, owners and veterinarians complete online questionnaires about the health status and lifestyle of the dogs. Biological samples are also collected and each dog is given a physical exam.

As the study now approaches its 10-year anniversary, researchers have published a paper in the journal PLOS One to review the findings so far. To date, 352 dogs have died and 70% of these deaths were attributed to cancer.

The primary goal of the study is to document and collect data on 500 dogs diagnosed with primary endpoint cancers: hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, osteosarcoma, and high-grade mast cell tumors. So far, they have obtained 223 and found hemangiosarcoma to be the most common (n = 120), followed by lymphoma/leukemia (n = 85). There are also fewer diagnoses of high-grade mast cell tumors (n=10) and osteosarcoma (n=8) than expected.

“The research data and samples are a legacy of these special dogs, which will continue to influence scientific discoveries for decades to come,” said study co-author Dr. Janet Patterson-Kane, scientific director of the Morris Animal Foundation in the US.

Graph of the Cumulative Incidence of the Four Primary Endpoint Cancers in Golden Retrievers
Graph of the Cumulative Incidence of the Four Primary Endpoint Cancers in Golden Retrievers. Credit: Labadie et al. (2022)

Doggy dates de-stress students

Primary school children in the UK were less stressed after spending just 20 minutes with a dog twice a week, compared with children who spent the same time doing a relaxation session with meditation and those who did neither, according to a new study in PLOS One

Researchers tracked the cortisol levels in the saliva of 150 children ages eight to nine for four weeks — cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it’s released by the body during times of stress.

Comparing their mean cortisol levels before and after the four-week intervention revealed lower stress levels in children in the canine intervention group, while cortisol levels increased in the other two groups.

Immediately after their doggy dates, both neurotypical children and children with special educational needs also showed significant reductions in stress, while no change in cortisol levels was found in children who meditated or had no intervention.

A group of children petting a dog
Credit: FatCamera/Getty Images

England may ban the breeding of English bulldogs

UK vets warn that breeding of English bulldogs could be banned unless urgent action is taken to change breeding standards to more moderate traits, according to a new study in Canine Medicine and Genetics

They reviewed the veterinary records of a random sample of 2,662 English bulldogs and 22,039 other dogs using the VetCompass database, and found that English bulldogs were twice as likely to be diagnosed with at least one condition than other breeds.

The bulldogs were also at increased risk for respiratory, eye and skin conditions due to their extreme physical characteristics — including shortened snouts, folded skin and crouched body.

And only 9.7% of the English bulldogs in this study were over eight years old, compared to 25.4% of the other breeds.

“These findings suggest that the overall health of the English bulldog is much lower than that of other dogs,” concludes lead author Dr. Dan G O’Neill, associate professor of companion animal epidemiology at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK.