Dogs are good for kids

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I like to think I have a great relationship with my children. While I can’t brag that my 19 years with my son and 16 years with my daughter have been perfect, I can chalk them up as pretty darn good. Is it because I’m (ahem) a great mother? Or, rather, should I be thanking our family dog?

A recent study found that children who feel close to their pet dogs are also more securely attached to their parents and have better bonds with their best friends. Researchers at Kent State University looked at 99 children ages 9 to 11 who owned pet dogs. These children answered questionnaires about their relationships with their dogs, parents and friends.

The study found if one type of relationship was strong, it’s likely the others were, too. In general, children with strong bonds with their dogs also had strong bonds with their parents and best friends.

But which came first?

Kathryn Kerns, a psychology professor at Kent State and one of the lead researchers, says they don’t know. It could be that caring for pets makes children feel closer to the significant humans in their lives, or it could be that their human relationships model how they should treat their pets. It could also be a reciprocal jumble: A positive experience with the pet leads to being more cooperative with parents, and that positive experience with parents leads to being closer to the pet, and so on.

The researchers also watched how the children interacted with their dogs. They found that those who had more physical contact with their pets had better relationships with their mothers — but not necessarily with their fathers (or friends).

“Given that mothers play a bit more of a role as a safe haven, as the one to go to for comfort, than dad, perhaps that’s why we found that effect,” Kerns says. “The close relationship with the mother might be more of a model for closeness with others, including the dog.”

Kerns and her team also did another study: How do pet dogs affect children’s emotions during stressful events?

The same 99 pre-adolescents were asked to deliver a five-minute autobiographical speech. The speech would be watched live by the experimenters, and, to up the stress factor, videotaped to be supposedly evaluated later.

Half the children had their dogs in the room, while half didn’t. “Kids who had their dogs present felt much happier throughout the whole process,” Kerns says. And having physical contact with the dog — its chin on the child’s lap, or the dog leaning against the child’s leg — made the experience even less stressful.

“When people are around pets and petting them, oftentimes they just feel calmer inside,” Kerns explains. The children may be in a better mood around their pets, which helps them cope better with stressors. The child may have had past calming experiences with his or her dog, which now makes it easier to relax. With a loyal buddy at the child’s side, the situation may feel less threatening.

In an unrelated study, children did a similar stress test either with a pet dog, with a parent or alone. The stress level was lowest when the children were with their dogs. Then there is a study on adults, who performed a stressful task with a pet dog, with a friend or alone. They were least stressed when they had their pet dogs with them. When alone, the stress level went up. And when with a friend, the stress level was highest of all.

Why can dogs offer better support than humans? “Humans can be judgmental in a way that dogs aren’t,” Kerns says. While we might worry a friend is silently evaluating our performance, we know a dog couldn’t care less. Read more…

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Airway disease in racehorses

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University of Guelph researchers examined lung tissue from 95 racehorses that had actively raced or trained before their deaths and found that a majority had inflammatory airway disease.

Racehorses need to breathe well to run their best, but inflammatory airway disease (IAD) can rob them of their stamina. New research in the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) at the University of Guelph shows that IAD is much more common than previously thought.

“We looked microscopically at the lung tissue of horses that died during or just after races and quantified the inflammatory cells within their airways,” professor Luis Arroyo with the OVC department of clinical studies said. “We expected to find that the majority of the animals would have normal airways, with only a small number actually affected with the disease, but that was not the case.”

Along with graduate student Federika ter Woort and pathobiology professor Jeff Caswell, Arroyo discovered that most of the horses had some degree of IAD, with mild to severe airway changes.

Previous research suggested that the disease occurs in up to half of equine athletes, the announcement said.

“The disease was known to be common in racehorses, but not as widespread as this study reveals,” Caswell said. “The findings suggest that IAD does not result from unique exposure of an affected horse to the stimulus that causes the disease, but, rather, the research suggests that all racehorses may be exposed, with inflammation of the airways experienced by many.”

With results published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research, the study examined lung tissue from 95 deceased racehorses, including thoroughbreds, standardbreds and quarterhorses that had actively raced or trained before their deaths.

This was the first study to assess inflammation on a tissue level and the first to discover airway inflammation in horses not specifically selected for poor performance.

“None of the deceased horses showed obvious signs of airway inflammation in their final three races,” Arroyo said. “The research shows that inflammation is always prevalent in racehorses, even those that may or may not have respiratory signs.”

Unlike equine asthma in older horses, IAD causes no observable symptoms at rest — only during exercise. It most readily shows itself in poor race times, Caswell explained.

Possible causes of IAD include recurrent pulmonary stress, deep inhalation of dust, atmospheric pollutants and persistent respiratory viral infections. Young horses have higher risk of exposure to these factors because of frequent transport, intense exercise and increased time spent in stables, OVC said.

Little is known about how IAD changes an affected horse’s lungs, Arroyo added.

“At this stage, the findings are mainly relevant to understanding the nature of the disease and how it develops. Until now, there was no knowledge about a potential correlation between the classification of the inflammatory cells in the airways and the lung tissues.”

The Ontario Racing Commission requires a mandatory autopsy when a horse dies in or soon after a race. That means experts know a lot about what causes racehorses to die. Since IAD is not fatal, it had not been closely examined until now, Arroyo said. read more

 

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Dental Care for Cats

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Keeping your cat’s mouth healthy is a great investment.

 

 

An often over looked health issue for our feline friends is dental care. Cats accumulate dental plaque and tartar, have toothaches and develop gingivitis just like people do. Uniquely Cats Veterinary Center offers a fully-equipped, state of the art feline dental suite in their cat only veterinary hospital. The suite includes advanced patient monitoring systems, digital radiology, anesthetic capabilities and human-grade instrumentation all in a peaceful dog-free environment. The staff at Uniquely Cats is dedicated to excellent, thorough, safe and pain-free dental care for cats.
Keeping your cat’s mouth healthy is a great investment. Uniquely Cats Veterinary Center in Boulder, CO offers a state of the art dental suite just for cats.
Keeping your cat’s mouth healthy is a great investment. Uniquely Cats Veterinary Center in Boulder, CO offers a state of the art dental suite just for cats.
Cats are masters at hiding pain. It’s a survival instinct. So, just because your cat is “acting normal” doesn’t mean they aren’t in pain. Let one of our exclusively feline veterinarians assess your kitty’s mouth.
Cats are masters at hiding pain. It’s a survival instinct. So, just because your cat is “acting normal” doesn’t mean they aren’t in pain. Let one of our exclusively feline veterinarians assess your kitty’s mouth.

“Cats are wonderful at hiding pain,” says Dr. Jessica Fine, who has been practicing feline-specific veterinary medicine for over 10 years. “Cats will continue to eat and act normally with a toothache that would have a human screaming for a dentist. At Uniquely Cats Veterinary Center, we educate our clients on the importance of regular dental exams and cleaning for their cats. Our unique dental suite provides us with the best tools for seeing and diagnosing feline dental issues. The equipment we use looks very much like what you would see at your own dentist.” Dr. Fine is a graduate of the Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine in Ft. Collins, CO.

According to Dr. Fine, “Because cats are so good at hiding pain, owners don’t know that their cat is in pain until after a dental procedure is performed and the source of the pain is removed. Clients often come back telling us how their cat is now playing and jumping and enjoying life again. It is very satisfying to see a cat ‘come back to life.’ Uniquely Cats believes that investing in the health of your cat’s teeth now will improve their overall quality of life. A pain-free cat is a happier cat!” Read more…

Vaccinate your equine aginst Rabies

Viral respiratory and neurologic diseases are the leading preventable causes of horse deaths. One of the core equine diseases—rabies—has a 100% fatality rate once clinical signs appear, but is easily preventable via vaccination.

“My first equine rabies case happened in a suburban barn—this family had a barn behind their house,” recalled Buff Hildreth, DVM, of Richland, Texas. “Their 2-year-old gelding, who was new to the barn, started out not wanting to eat and being a little depressed.”

She evaluated the horse in the morning and thought the animal might be colicking.

“I talked to them and told them, if he doesn’t improve, then I need to come back,” she said. “I came back that evening, and he had become averse to drinking and didn’t like to be touched.

“I could remember Dr. Joe Joyce (DVM), who told me when I was a veterinary student, ‘If it looks like everything yet nothing, think rabies,’” Hildreth said. “So, that’s when it clicked.”

Horses across the United States have the potential to be exposed to rabies through infected wildlife, commonly bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks. No matter where a horse lives, or what a horse does, wildlife exposure is a reality.

“Turns out this horse had not previously been vaccinated against rabies,” Hildreth said. “So I … referred the horse to Texas A&M. Within the amount of time it took to hook up a trailer, the horse started having laryngeal spasms and becoming somewhat aggressive and hyperexcitable.

“Unfortunately, they only made it about 30 miles and the horse began seizing violently,” she said. “They called me back and said, ‘We think we lost him.’”

Rabies is 100% fatal for horses and, as a zoonotic disease, is also a risk to horse owners and their families.

“The hardest thing for me was dealing with the mother after the horse succumbed to rabies,” Hildreth said. “She had three sons who had all been exposed to rabies. She was very scared for her sons’ health.”

Annual vaccination is the only way to protect horses from rabies. Rabies is one of five core equine diseases against which the American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends all horses should be vaccinated annually. The additional core equine diseases include West Nile virus, tetanus, and Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis. Read more…

 

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Healthy soil increases animal weight

Individual pastures on livestock farms yield surprisingly dissimilar benefits to a farm’s overall agricultural income, and those differences are most likely attributable to the varying levels of “soil health” provided by its grazing livestock, reveals a study published today.

The study, produced by an interdisciplinary team of 13 scientists and two PhD students from Rothamsted Research, evaluates how efficiently nutrients are used on a livestock farm, on a field-by-field basis for the first time, and links soil health to animal growth.

The team has developed a method to derive the contribution of individual fields to an animal’s growth and, in the process, has opened up the possibility of using field-scale metrics as indicators of animal performance and agricultural productivity. The findings appear in the journal Animal.

“The prospect that commercial livestock producers could improve their productivity by purely changing rotational patterns is exciting,” says Taro Takahashi, an agricultural economist at Rothamsted’s North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP) in Devon, who led the study.

“Unlike many alternative technologies, this will not require any capital investment,” adds Takahashi, who is also Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Livestock Systems and Food Security at the Bristol Veterinary School of the University of Bristol.

The majority of livestock farms in the UK operate rotational grazing, which involves moving animals from one field to another. While this practice supplies more fresh forage to animals throughout the season, it makes farming systems more difficult to monitor and optimise.

The problem has been the difficulty of linking an animal’s performance to field measurements, such as soil health, because animals spend only a fraction of time in each field, which is also used to produce silage for winter. Under such complexity, collating required information manually was almost infeasible. The latest method provides a shortcut.

The NWFP team found that animal performance on individual fields was positively associated with the level of soil organic carbon, a common measure of “soil health” for sustainable farming. The team also discovered that fields grazed more intensively had healthier soils and were less prone to water and nutrient losses.

“Without our unique experimental design to separate hydrological flows from individual grazing fields, you couldn’t accurately quantify any nutrients being lost as the majority would be dissolved in water,” notes Paul Harris, one of the study’s authors and the Principal Investigator at North Wyke, which consists of three instrumented farms over 63 hectares.

With the UK preparing to leave the EU, the new study comes as Rothamsted increases its efforts to contribute to the creation of a well-designed food supply chain, both through enhanced ecosystem services and reduced environmental impacts.

“The correlation between soil health and animal performance is a major finding that confirms the huge amount of anecdotal evidence linking soil parameters and liveweight gain,” says Michael Lee, Head of the Department of Sustainable Agriculture Sciences at North Wyke. Read more…

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Are you Dog People or Cat People?

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We are more alike than we are different. That’s not just a fact, it’s a perspective on life, and it applies to people with pets. According to a recent survey of 1000 people with dogs and 1000 people with cats, both share a love for their furry family members, regularly take their pets on vacation with them and often eat their meals together. Guardians of both cats and dogs celebrate birthdays and holidays with gifts (though dog people are twice as likely to throw a full party to mark the occasion). People with dogs, as well as those with cats, take their animals into account when planning their weekly schedules.

Though there are differences between cat people and dog people, they are often a matter of degree or frequency. For example, dog guardians have a higher average income than cat guardians. They are more likely to be in the field of finance, and less likely to be in fields that rely strongly on creativity, which is a common place to find cat guardians. People with dogs are more strongly influenced by their pets when making decisions, but people with cats are still influenced—just not as much.

Some differences between these two groups of people have to do with relatively superficial things. People with dogs are more likely to watch horror and action films as well as romantic ones while those with cats have a greater tendency to watch indie films, musicals and documentaries. People with dogs are more likely to be involved in active pursuits such as sports, dancing and travel when contrasted with cat folks, whose hobbies are more likely to be calmer ones such as reading, gardening and writing.

Both dogs and cats provide benefits to people’s health and well-being. With dogs, a large part of that is based on the additional physical activity dogs prompt us to engage in. Cats, though, are more likely to hear their people’s innermost thoughts and feelings, which may be why people with cats credit their pets with lowering their stress to a greater degree than people with dogs do.

Although studies comparing cat people and dog people repeatedly appear, they rarely investigate the many people who share their lives with both dogs and cats. They may not be the most accurate pieces of research, but they are sure fun to read. Read more

 

Did you know more sunlight brings down cholesterol?

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Despite being a country with abundant sunshine, Vitamin D deficiency is fairly common in India. The country has also seen an increasing trend towards taking Vitamin D supplements, either as prescription medicine or as a nutritional input. A study comparing the effects of increased sunlight exposure versus Vitamin D supplementation, conducted by researchers at Jehangir Hospital in Pune and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in Manchester, found that the former not only led to an an increase in Vitamin D concentrations, it also brought down cholesterol.

Dr Vivek Patwardhan, Dr Anuradha Khadilkar and others at the research centre of Jehangir Hospital conducted the study on over 200 men and found that there was significant decline in total cholesterol concentrations in individuals who had increased sunshine exposure for at least six months. The study was published recently in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Vitamin D deficiency is common worldwide, even in sun-rich countries such as India and those in the Middle East. Suboptimal concentrations of Vitamin D have been reported in over 50 per cent of the Indian population, possibly due to changing lifestyles, leading to reduced effective exposure to sunlight.

The effect of increased casual sunlight exposure on Vitamin D concentrations and lipid profile has not been studied earlier, said Khadilkar. “So, we tried to assess the effect of increased sunlight exposure, in comparison with Vitamin D supplementation, on Vitamin D status and lipid profile in Indian men (aged 40-60 years) with Vitamin D deficiency. A total of 203 men were enrolled in the study that was conducted in the last two years,” she said.

“Apart from other lifestyle changes, reduced sunlight exposure in populations that migrate from areas with higher sunlight to lower sunlight seems to have an unfavourable effect on lipid metabolism. But we do not have enough data on the issue,” said Khadilkar.

A large-scale study is being planned to find prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency, she said. A significant decline in total cholesterol in individuals, who had increased sunshine exposure, was also observed during the study.

“Our study demonstrates that with increase in sunlight exposure, there is improvement in Vitamin D concentrations and lipid profile, while, in comparison, orally administered Vitamin D had an adverse effect on lipid profile though it was not significant,” said Khadilkar. Read more…