Racing to Save the Stray Dogs of Sochi

February 5, 2014

Saving Sochi’s Stray Dogs

Animal rights workers in Sochi, Russia, are rescuing stray dogs from exterminators hired by the government. They hope athletes and fans visiting the Olympics will adopt them.

SOCHI, Russia — A dog shelter backed by a Russian billionaire is engaged in a frantic last-ditch effort to save hundreds of strays facing a death sentence before the Winter Olympics begin here.

Already, hundreds of animals have been killed, with the local authorities apparently wanting the stray dogs cleared from the streets before Friday’s opening ceremony.

While the authorities say the dogs can be wild and dangerous, reports of their systematic slaughter by a pest removal company hired by the government in recent months have outraged animal rights advocates and cast a gruesome specter over the traditionally cheery atmosphere of the Games.

The handling of the matter has also sharply undercut the image of a friendlier, welcoming Russia that President Vladimir V. Putin has sought to cultivate in recent months.

“We were told, ‘Either you take all the dogs from the Olympic Village or we will shoot them,’ ” said Olga Melnikova, who is coordinating the rescue effort on behalf of a charity called Volnoe Delo (roughly, Good Will), which is financed by Oleg V. Deripaska, one of Russia’s billionaire oligarchs.

“On Monday we were told we have until Thursday,” Ms. Melnikova said.

A “dog rescue” golf cart is now scouring the Olympic campus, picking up the animals and delivering them to the shelter, which is really an outdoor shantytown of doghouses on a hill on the outskirts of the city. It is being called PovoDog, a play on the Russian word povodok, which means leash.

Lying past a cemetery, at the end of a dirt road and without electricity or running water, the makeshift PovoDog shelter is already giving refuge to about 80 animals, including about a dozen puppies. One is a chocolate-colored Shar-Pei and her two mostly Shar-Pei puppies. Another is a large, reddish-brown sheep dog named Kasthan, who likes to jump up and kiss the shelter workers, who are mostly volunteers.

Local animal rights workers say many of the strays were pets, or the offspring of pets, abandoned by families whose homes with yards were demolished over the past few years to make way for the Olympic venues and who were compensated with new apartments in taller buildings, where keeping a pet is often viewed as undesirable.

They also say that Russia has never made a priority of pushing responsible animal control policies, including spaying and neutering, which would have helped avoid the current problems.

“We need a program of sterilization for dogs,” said Nadezhda Mayboroda, a Sochi resident who is working at the shelter. “People are not really well educated that it is necessary to sterilize their dogs at home. Human beings are not responsible at all.”

In recent months, residents of Sochi have reported seeing dogs shot with poisoned darts, then tossed into waiting trucks. Aleksei Sorokin, the director general of a pest control business, Basya Services, has confirmed that his company has been hired to catch and kill strays, telling local journalists the work was necessary.

The effort to remove the dogs began in October, as did initial efforts to gather up strays and shelter them. Tatyana Leshchenko, an animal rights advocate here, said about 300 dogs a month were being killed in Sochi, at a cost of $25 to $35 each.

“It’s very cruel,” Ms. Leshchenko said, adding that the dogs were being shot with a chemical that causes them to suffocate. She said she had convinced at least one exterminator to give her advance warning of the neighborhoods to be cleared.

The International Olympic Committee responded with a carefully worded statement; Mark Adams, a spokesman, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday that no healthy dogs found on the grounds of the Olympics were being destroyed.Racing to Save the Stray Dogs of Sochi pet it dogs Canada

“It would be absolutely wrong to say that any healthy dog will be destroyed,” Mr. Adams said.
“Bronx Bombers” at Circle in the Square

On Monday, Humane Society International, an advocacy group based in Washington, wrote to Mr. Putin and urged him to prevent the killing of dogs, noting that the Russian president is also a dog lover. Mr. Putin has been photographed numerous times with his black Labrador, Koni.

Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, acknowledged in an interview with Kommersant FM radio Wednesday that Sochi was struggling with stray dogs.

“It is true that there are stray dogs in Sochi, more stray dogs than in other cities,” he said. “The explanation is quite simple. When a big construction project is underway, dogs and puppies always appear whom the builders feed. Now the builders have left, but unfortunately, the dogs remain.”

Stray dogs have been found inside sports venues and have even wandered into some of the residences for Olympic athletes and visiting journalists. Dogs can also be found throughout the city and in the mountain areas where skiing and other outdoor events will take place. The Olympic Committee does not have responsibility for areas outside its official venues

Animals are at the world’s mercy.Thank you to the man who donated the money for the shelter. All this money spent on the stupid Olympics and…

On Tuesday night, as thousands of fans streamed into the new Fisht Olympic Stadium for a dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony, what caught Ms. Melnikova’s eye was a Rottweiler sitting nearby.

Ms. Melnikova, who has two dogs of her own back home in Moscow, seemed heartbroken that she was unable to rescue the dog.

“On the left, near where the food court is, he was sitting next to the garbage container,” Ms. Melnikova said. But she was not prepared. “I need equipment to take a Rottweiler,” she said. “I didn’t have a collar. If I had a collar, I would have tried.”

Mr. Deripaska, an industrialist who largely made his fortune in aluminum, provided $15,000 to get the shelter started on land donated by the local government. He has also pledged about $50,000 a year for operations. He was also one of the major investors in the Sochi Games and paid for several huge projects, including an overhaul of the airport, a new seaport and the Olympic Village along the coast.

With the Olympics fast approaching, however, there was simply no time to build an indoor space for the shelter, especially because so much work remained to be done on hotels and other buildings for the Games.

“In Sochi, you just can’t find a construction guy because they are in such a rush to finish all the objects,” Ms. Melnikova said.

As local residents have learned of the shelter, however, the needs are only growing. On Tuesday night, shelter workers said, someone dropped off two puppies without any explanation or instruction. So far, the workers said, there have been some offers of money but few donations of what is needed most: food, veterinary medicines and other supplies, including dog shelters and collars.

All of the dogs entering the shelter receive medical treatment, including vaccinations. All of them will be eligible for adoption, even to fans attending the Olympics. Spared execution — at least for the moment — the animals at the PovoDog shelter barked in a loud chorus as the sun slowly dropped into the Black Sea, which could be viewed in the distance.

Racing to Save the Stray Dogs of Sochi pet it dogs Canada

Many scampered around and nipped at each other, while one unlucky fellow got his head stuck in the chicken wire surrounding the shelter, only to be freed by a shelter volunteer, beseeching him to stay calm.

Tiny puppies squeaked and squawked. Workers said they were likely to find homes faster than the older dogs — two siblings of the Shar-Pei puppies have already been adopted.

Still, most of the dogs are mutts, and Ms. Mayboroda said many people would not be interested — a view that the shelter workers hope to change through a new publicity and outreach effort. “Everybody here wants a shepherd or a pit bull,” she said. “Nobody wants just a mixed dog.”

Content Source: NY Times

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Dogs Sense Small Variations in Earth’s Magnetic Field

January 3, 2014

New Research Suggests Dogs Sense Small Variations in Earth’s Magnetic Field

Researchers analyzed the body orientation of 70 dogs of different breeds, while the dogs relieved themselves in the open country and without being on the leash. The statistical analysis of the more than 7,000 observations (recorded together with the currently prevailing environmental conditions of the location, time of day and other important parameters such as the familiarity of the terrain for each dog) was frustrating.

In contrast to grazing cows, hunting foxes and landing waterfowl (previous studies of the research collective), the dogs showed no clear preference for a particular body alignment while urinating or defecating.

But then the researchers working with Dr. Vlastimil Hart and Prof. Dr. Hynek Burda made a striking discovery. They sorted the collected data according to the small variations of the geomagnetic field during the period of data collection. These irregular, tiny changes in the intensity and declination of the magnetic field lines are recorded by magnetic observatories and freely accessible online. The emerging picture of the analysis of the categorized data was surprising: dogs prefer a body-alignment along the magnetic north-south axis, but only during periods of calm magnetic field conditions. After taking into account all other factors, the researchers concluded that with this discovery they provide clear indication of a magnetic sense in dogs.

To many dog owners who know about the good navigation abilities of their pets, the findings might not come as a surprise – but rather as an explanation for the “supernatural” abilities, although it is not clear to the researchers what the dogs might use their magnetic sense for. For the scientific community the findings could be of tremendous value since the magnetic sense of animals is still not well understood, despite all the research on migratory birds. The new findings offer new perspectives, which the researchers will pursue in upcoming projects.

Content Source: Science Daily

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The Daily Dog News Canada Dogs Recognize Familiar Faces from Images

Dogs Recognize Familiar Faces from Images

December 18, 2013

Dogs Recognize Familiar Faces assumed to be a quality that only humans and possibly primates possess.

Main focus on spontaneous behavior of dogs

Typically animals’ ability to discriminate different individuals has been studied by training the animals to discriminate photographs of familiar and strange individuals. The researchers, led by Professor Outi Vainio at the University of Helsinki, tested dogs’ spontaneous behavior towards images — if the dogs are not trained to recognize faces are they able to see faces in the images and do they naturally look at familiar and strange faces differently?

“Dogs were trained to lie still during the image presentation and to perform the task independently. Dogs seemed to experience the task rewarding, because they were very eager to participate” says professor Vainio. Dogs’ eye movements were measured while they watched facial images of familiar humans and dogs (e.g. dog’s owner and another dog from the same family) being displayed on the computer screen. As a comparison, the dogs were shown facial images from dogs and humans that the dogs had never met.

Dogs preferred faces of familiar conspecifics

The results indicate that dogs were able to perceive faces in the images. Dogs looked at images of dogs longer than images of humans, regardless of the familiarity of the faces presented in the images. This corresponds to a previous study by Professor Vainio’s research group, where it was found that dogs prefer viewing conspecific faces over human faces.

Dogs fixed their gaze more often on familiar faces and eyes rather than strange ones, i.e. dogs scanned familiar faces more thoroughly.

In addition, part of the images was presented in inverted forms i.e. upside-down. The inverted faces were presented because their physical properties correspond to normal upright facial images e.g. same colors, contrasts, shapes. It’s known that the human brain process upside-down images in a different way than normal facial images. Thus far, it had not been studied how dogs gaze at inverted or familiar faces. Dogs viewed upright faces as long as inverted faces, but they gazed more at the eye area of upright faces, just like humans.

This study shows that the gazing behavior of dogs is not only following the physical properties of images, but also the information presented in the image and its semantic meaning. Dogs are able to see faces in the images and they differentiate familiar and strange faces from each other. These results indicate that dogs might have facial recognition skills, similar to humans.

Content Source: Science Daily

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How Household Dogs Protect Against Asthma and Infection

How Household Dogs Protect Against Asthma and Infection

December 16, 2013

Children’s risk for developing allergies and asthma is reduced when they are exposed in early infancy to a dog

Exposure of mice to dust from houses where canine pets are permitted both indoors and outdoors can reshape the community of microbes that live in the mouse gut — collectively known as the gastrointestinal microbiome — and also diminish immune system reactivity to common allergens, according to a new study by researchers led by Susan Lynch, PhD, associate professor with the Division of Gastroenterology at UC San Francisco, and Nicholas Lukacs, PhD, professor with the Department of Pathology at the U Michigan.

The scientists also identified a specific bacterial species within the gut that is critical to protecting the airways against both allergens and viral respiratory infection.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and involves a multi-disciplinary group of researchers from UCSF, the University of Michigan, Henry Ford Health System and Georgia Regents University.

The results were obtained in studies of mice challenged with allergens after earlier exposure to dust from homes with dogs, but the results also are likely to explain the reduced allergy risk among children raised with dogs from birth, according to the study leaders.

In their study the scientists exposed mice to cockroach or protein allergens. They discovered that asthma-associated inflammatory responses in the lungs were greatly reduced in mice previously exposed to dog-associated dust, in comparison to mice that were exposed to dust from homes without pets or mice not exposed to any dust.

Among the bacterial species in the gut microbiome of these protected mice, the researchers homed in on one, Lactobacillus johnsonii. When they fed it alone to mice, they found it could prevent airway inflammation due to allergens or even respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. Severe RSV infection in infancy is associated with elevated asthma risk.

The researchers showed in this experiment that protection of the lungs’ airways was associated with reduced numbers and activity of asthma-associated immune cells.

The level of protection with this single species was less than that obtained with the full complement of dust microbes from dog owners’ homes, indicating that other, environmentally sourced bacterial species probably are necessary for full airway protection, Lynch said.

This result suggests that Lactobacillus johnsonii or other species of “good” bacteria might one day be used to reshape the gut microbiome in ways that can prevent the development of asthma or allergies, or perhaps even to treat existing cases, she said.

Lynch’s own work and research by several others in the field has led her to become convinced that “the composition and function of the gut microbiome strongly influence immune reactions and present a novel avenue for development of therapeutics for both allergic asthma and a range of other diseases.”

The current study demonstrates that changes in the gut microbiome can have wide-reaching effects on immune function beyond the gut, at sites elsewhere in the body, Lynch said.

The team had previously demonstrated that the presence of a dog that roams both inside and outside was associated with a significantly more diverse house dust microbiome that was enriched for species found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans.

After teaming up with Lukacs, an expert on immune responses in lung disease, Lynch said, “We set out to investigate whether being exposed to a distinct house dust microbiome associated with indoor/outdoor dogs mediated a protective effect through manipulation of the gut microbiome and, by extension, the host immune response.”

“The results of our study indicate that this is likely to be one mechanism through which the environment influences immune responses in early life, and it is something we are currently examining using human samples in a large multi-institutional collaborative study funded by the NIAID.”

“Gut microbiome manipulation represents a promising new therapeutic strategy to protect individuals against both pulmonary infection and allergic airway disease,” Lynch said

Content Source: Science Daily

Spanish Stray Dogs is a non-profit organization

Spanish Stray Dogs

December 5 2013

Non-profit holds crowd funder to feed Spain’s abandoned dogs

Spanish Stray Dogs has launched a crowd funding campaign to raise money to feed over 300 abandoned and neglected dogs at a Spanish council dog pound.

The non-profit hopes to raise £11,000 through its Indiegogo campaign, the cost of feeding the dogs for a year, but every pound received will make a difference to the dogs’ lives.

Without the help of organizations like Spanish Stray Dogs, the dogs at the Los Barrios pound would be left to die. Spanish Stray Dogs gives a voice to the forgotten dogs who end up here, making sure they are fed, cleaned and get the love and care they deserve.

A range of perks are available for donating to the crowd funder, including naming a stray dog or naming a kennel at the shelter for higher donations.

The non-profit organization was set up in 2010 to help one stray dog, but since then it has re homed hundreds of dogs across Europe together with its sister charity Spanish Stray Dogs UK.

You can donate to the crowd funder (which ends on January 11th, 2014)

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Multi-Dog Study Points to Canine Brain's Reward Center pet it dogs news health

Dog Study Points to Canine Brain’s Reward Center

December 4, 2013

Emory University researchers captured the first canine brain images of two alert, unrestrained dogs last year.

The research, published by the Public Library of Science One (PLOS One), showed that most of the dogs had a positive response in the caudate region of the brain when given a hand signal indicating they would receive a food treat, as compared to a different hand signal for “no treat.”

“Our experiment last year was really a proof of concept, demonstrating that dogs could be trained to undergo successful functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI),” says the lead researcher Gregory Berns, director of Emory’s Center for Neuropolicy. “Now we’ve shown that the initial study wasn’t a fluke: Canine fMRI is reliable and can be done with minimal stress to the dogs. We have laid the foundation for exploring the neural biology and cognitive processes of man’s best, and oldest, friend.”

Co-authors of the paper include Andrew Brooks, a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Neuropolicy, and Mark Spivak, a dog trainer and the owner of Comprehensive Pet Therapy.

Both the initial experiment and the more recent one involved training the dogs to acclimatize to an fMRI machine. The task requires dogs to cooperatively enter the small enclosure of the fMRI scanner and remain completely motionless despite the noise and vibration of the machine.

Only those dogs that willingly cooperated were involved in the experiments. The canine subjects were given harmless fMRI brain scans while they watched a human giving hand signals that the dogs had been trained to understand. One signal indicated that the dog would receive a hot dog for a treat. The other hand signal meant that the dog would not receive a hot dog.

The most recent experiment involved the original two dogs, plus 11 additional ones, of varying breeds. Eight out of the 13 showed the positive caudate response for the hand signal indicating they were going to receive a hot dog.

The caudate sits above the brain stem in mammals and has the highest concentration of dopamine receptors, which are implicated in motivation and pleasure, among other neurological processes.

“We know that in humans, the caudate region is associated with decision-making, motivation and processing emotions,” Berns says.

As a point of reference, the researchers compared the results to a similar experiment Berns had led 10 years previously involving humans, in which the subjects pressed a button when a light appeared, to get a squirt of fruit juice.

Eleven of 17 humans involved in that experiment showed a positive response in the caudate region that was similar to the positive response of the dogs. “Our findings suggest that the caudate region of the canine brain behaves similarly to the caudate of the human brain, under similar circumstances,” Berns says.

Six of the dogs involved in the experiment had been specially bred and trained to assist disabled people as companion animals, and two of the dogs (including one of the service dogs) had worked as therapy dogs, used to help alleviate stress in people in hospitals or nursing homes. All of the service/therapy dogs showed a greater level of positive caudate activation for the hot dog signal, compared to the other dogs.

“We don’t know if the service dogs and therapy dogs showed this difference because of genetics, or because of the environment in which they were raised, but we hope to find out in future experiments,” Berns says. “This may be the first hint of how the brains of dogs with different temperaments and personalities differ.”

He adds: “I don’t think it was because they liked hot dogs more. I saw no evidence of that. None of the dogs turned down the hot dogs.”

One limitation of the experiments is the small number of subjects and the selectivity of the dogs involved, since only certain dogs can be trained to do the experiments, Berns says.

“We’re expanding our cohort to include more dogs and more breeds,” Berns says. “As the dogs get more accustomed to the process, we can conduct more complicated experiments.”

Plans call for comparing how the canine brain responds to hand signals coming from the dog’s owner, a stranger and a computer. Another experiment already under way is looking at the neural response of dogs when they are exposed to scents of members of their households, both humans and other dogs, and unfamiliar humans and dogs.

“Ultimately, our goal is to map out canine cognitive processes,” says Berns, who recently published a book entitled “How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain.”

Even in an increasingly technical era, the role of dogs has not diminished, Berns says. In addition to being popular pets, he notes that dogs are important in the U.S. military, in search-and-rescue missions, as assistants for the disabled and as therapeutic stress relievers for hospital patients and others.

“Dogs have been a part of human society for longer than any other animal,” Berns says. He cites a genetic analysis recently published in Science suggesting that the domestication of dogs goes back 18,000 to 32,000 years, preceding the development of agriculture some 10,000 years ago.

“Most neuroscience studies on animals are conducted to serve as models for human disease and brain functions,” Berns says. “We’re not studying canine cognition to serve as a model for humans, but what we learn about the dog brain may also help us understand more about how our own brains evolved.”

Content Source: Science Daily

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The Daily Dog News Canada Circo-virus dogs puppies chihuahuas

New Deadly Virus Killing Dogs Circo-Virus

November 13, 2013

Circo-Virus spreading in the U.S.

A new virus is hitting dogs throughout the country, and if not treated, it can kill an infected animal in just days. There’s no vaccine, it’s highly infectious, and scientists still can’t say with certainty how it’s transmitted.

What is certain is this disease is deadly, especially in kennel settings. Even though cases have been limited to just three states so far – California, Michigan, and Ohio – it’s just a matter of time until it makes its way here.

Dr. Olivia Pan is keeping up with all of the latest information for when it does, because early study results are frightening.

“They’re suspecting the dogs can bleed into their cavities, their chest into their abdomen, and those are some of the more serious ones that would bleed to their deaths,” said Dr. Pan.

It’s called circo-virus. Vets have been aware of it for years but mainly in pig populations – it can decimate an entire hog farm in just a week. Certain pet birds also seem susceptible, especially parrots, parakeets and cockatoos. What’s new is the virus has never made the jump to dogs – until now.

At The Pet Spot, a kennel in a suburb of Cincinnati, three dogs died and a fourth became ill in just three days, all suffering from symptoms consistent with circo-virus. For the owner, it’s been hard both personally & professionally.

“We consider this the loss of three of our family members,” said Jeff Voelpel. “We’ll always continue to ensure that we do things the right way, and make sure we’ve taken every step to ensure a clean, safe environment.”

One of the main problems with circo-virus is there’s no easy way to diagnosis it. Since it can kill so quickly, sending blood samples off to a lab for testing just isn’t practical.

“There’s no way of us knowing it’s the circo-virus or not until you do all of these tests, and by then – you don’t get the results back for weeks,” said Dr. Pan.

Doctors do know that dogs who are frequently boarded or spend time in “play situations” with large groups of other dogs are at greatest risk. The bad news is, there’s no vaccine to prevent it – no known cure – and to make matters worse, it’s still not clear how the virus is spread.

That fact is especially frightening for kennel or doggie daycare operators responsible for a large number of dogs.

“Definitely, we do have a fear that all of these dogs are going to get sick at the same time,” said Dr. Pan.

Since the disease was only first detected in dogs in 2012, the symptoms aren’t set in stone.

Here’s what we know: all of the infected dogs had severe inflammation in their intestinal tract, and exhibited varying degrees of lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your dog exhibits those symptoms, visit the vet immediately.

Content Source: Wave 3

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Adopted Stray Dog Climbs Mount Everest

November 13, 2013

Adopted Stray Dog Becomes First Dog To Climb Mount Everest

Rupee was rescued from a dump when he was only eight months old and barely clinging to life. Now the rescued dog has accomplished something that no other dog is known to have achieved. Rupee, along with his rescuer Joanne Lefson, climbed Mount Everest.

Rupee was found by Lefson at a dump site in Ladakh, Northern India. He was dying of dehydration and starvation, but with Joanne’s help he was nursed back to health.

“When I saw him on that dumpsite he couldn’t have had more than an hour to live,” said Lefson. “He couldn’t even walk 100 feet without collapsing.”

Lefson took Rupee in and fed him a high protein diet and helped him gain his strength back.

Once Rupee was healthy Lefson wanted to take Rupee on an adventure that she had originally planned for her previous dog Oscar. Lefson and Oscar had made headlines for travelling all over the world to famous landmarks. Oscar and Lefson travels became an internet sensation and they used their fame to promote finding homes for stray dogs.

As part of their world adventures Lefson had hoped to make an expedition to Everest. Unfortunately, Oscar passed away this January.  Lefson wants to continue Oscar’s journey and honor his legacy with Rupee.

“Oscar will never be replaced and it’s been difficult trying to pick up the pieces, but the one thing that keeps me going is honoring his legacy and working towards the day when every homeless dog will have a forever home,” said Lefson. “Rupee is simply an extension of Oscar’s legacy and a fine example of what can be achieved when a homeless dog is given a second chance.”

Lefson had Rupee checked out by his veterinarian. Rupee’s vet gave Rupee the go ahead to go on the expedition. Since Rupee was born in the Himalayan region the veterinarian confirmed that he would not suffer from altitude sickness.

Rupee and Lefson traveled to India, where they first made a stop to visit the famous Taj Mahal before heading out on their expedition. Lefson, Rupee, film maker Dev Argarwel made the trek along with porters and guides. They reached Everest Base Camp in just ten days.

The trek was grueling, but Lefson took extra precautions to make sure Rupee would be ok.


“My greatest concern was wondering if Rupee could actually make it,” said Lefson. “I prepared for the worst and arranged an extra porter just in case Rupee needed to hitch a ride.”


Rupee though seemed to love the experience, especially playing in the snow.


“He played in it at every opportunity, chased it and even tried to chew it at times,” said Lefson.


Rupee is the first ever recorded dog at base camp. His accomplishment represents what amazing thing rescued dogs can accomplish when given a second chance.

Content Source: Life with Dogs

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New Test Can Diagnose Emerging Strains of Canine Parvovirus pet it dogs Canada chihuahuas

New Test Can Diagnose Strains of Canine Parvovirus

November 11, 2013

A new test developed at the Kansas State University  is leading to earlier detection of Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious worldwide disease that involves both domestic and wild canines. It can be fatal in immunocompromised dogs or puppies that have not yet been vaccinated, said Richard Oberst, professor of diagnostic medicine and director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The molecular diagnostics team has developed a newer, more effective test that can detect an emerging 2c strain of the virus while simultaneously detecting existing 2a and 2b strains.

“Canine parvovirus is a very severe disease,” Oberst said. “Usually dogs who have canine parvovirus are already immune suppressed, not only because of their young age and having immature immune systems, but also because of having intestinal parasites.”

Canine parvovirus causes hemorrhagic enteritis resulting in bloody diarrhea several days after exposure to the virus. It spreads from dog to dog through contact with feces. The virus infects lymphocytes and causes immune suppression, Oberst said, but it also can cause dogs to bleed to death through their intestines.

A major worldwide parvovirus outbreak occurred in the 1970s and involved a pathogenic form of the virus that killed many dogs. Since the 1970s, the virus has evolved into the type 2a and type 2b strains found around the world, Oberst said. A type 2c has recently emerged, too.

“While parvovirus doesn’t seem to be causing quite the same widespread outbreaks that we saw in the 1970s, a lot of dogs are still infected and coming down with the disease,” Oberst said.

Often, survival rates depend on how quickly and accurately the virus is detected. Commercial tests for veterinarians are not as effective at detecting newer strains of the 2c virus, Oberst said, and have resulted in some false negative results.

Jianfa Bai, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine, and collaborators at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory developed a real-time polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test to detect the 2c virus strain and the 2a and 2b strains. While the diagnostic laboratory has been able to test for the 2a and 2b strains for years, the new test extends the laboratory’s capabilities to quickly and accurately detect canine parvovirus.

“With this test we can now test all strains simultaneously and differentiate which strains of the virus might actually be causing the infection,” Oberst said. “That’s a unique aspect to this test.”

While canine parvovirus is a severe disease, the good news for dog owners is that the disease is preventable through vaccinations, Oberst said. Getting a dog in a vaccination program as soon as possible is the best way to prevent spreading the virus.

“It’s totally preventable if the dogs are immune competent and have gotten into a vaccine program at an early age before they can become exposed to the virus,” Oberst said. “That’s why getting dogs vaccinated and getting their immune systems ready for exposure to parvovirus is very important.”

Young dogs — usually 6-16 weeks old — are more likely to show symptoms, Oberst said, because they have not yet been vaccinated or are immunocompromised. Parvovirus symptoms among dogs include fever, bloody diarrhea or lethargy.

If pet owners suspect their dog has canine parvovirus, they should talk with their veterinarian, Oberst said. He recommends that pet owners separate the dog from healthy dogs so that the virus doesn’t spread. He also recommends using bleach to disinfect surfaces of which the parvovirus-infected dog may have come into contact.

While the virus does not infect humans, the researchers are seeing that parvovirus can infect cats, but not necessarily with the severe clinical problems found in dogs. Oberst said further studies are needed to learn more about the feline strain.

Content Source: Science Daily

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Britain’s first dog behaviour centre opens

Britain’s First Dog Cognition Centre Opens

November 11, 2013

The centre is headed by dog cognition expert Dr Juliane Kaminski

Britain’s first centre dedicated exclusively to studying dogs’ ability to understand humans and the world around them has opened at the University of Portsmouth and dog owners are being encouraged to bring their pets along.


The Dog Cognition Centre has opened its doors to family dogs of all breeds, genders, ages and temperaments allowing researchers to study a huge range of dogs and learn more about how clever man’s best friend really is.


Dogs take part in games and are given tasks to solve, including obedience tasks, and researchers watch how they interact with their environment, other dogs or people.


The findings will be useful and of interest to those who work with and rely on dogs, including guide dogs for the blind and people with other disabilities, the police and the military, as well as to those who keep dogs as pets.


Researchers from the Department of Psychology will be studying:


  • human-dog communication;
  • whether dogs are sensitive to what others can see and do they take advantage of it;
  • how dogs learn from other dogs and from humans;
  • what dogs know about themselves;
  • dogs’ understanding of their physical environment;
  • and do they co-operate with other dogs and with people to do the things which they can’t do alone.
  • Dogs’ facial expressions.


The centre is headed by dog cognition expert Dr Juliane Kaminski, who has spent more than a decade studying dogs’ understanding of the world they live in.


She said: “Research has shown us that dogs have some understanding of their world and are flexible problem solvers. Some of their abilities equal those of young children.


“We know dogs are sensitive to humans and that they understand our communication cues, such as pointing and looking at something, for example, in way even our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees or dogs’ closest living relative, the wolf, can’t.

“The minds of dogs are complex, but more research is needed to identify what mechanisms are controlling their behaviour and how much they really understand versus how much we think they understand.”Britain’s first dog behaviour centre opens


Dogs have been living with humans for 15,000 years but they have only relatively recently come out of the shadow of chimpanzees and other primates in terms of behavioural sciences. In the past 15-20 years scientists have begun to learn more about how and why dogs have successfully become human’s best friend, and about how their human-like qualities evolved.


Dr Kaminski is a member of the University’s Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology, whose work has received funding from a range of bodies including the Leverhulme Trust, Wellcome Trust, Royal Society and European Commission. Its researchers include world experts in understanding human and animal behaviour and cognition.

Dogs of any gender, age or breed can take part in the studies, in which researchers play with them and set them tasks. The research is purely observational and the dogs will be rewarded with food or play. To take part, dog owners are asked to answer a few questions about their pet at:

Content Source: UoP News

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