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Tag: health

FDA investigating legume-based dog foods

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Pet food containing potatoes, peas, lentils and other legumes might be causing heart disease in dogs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a warning to pet owners.

Citing “highly unusual” reports about canine dilated cardiomyopathy, the FDA said last week it is investigating a link between the food and cases in which dogs have been diagnosed with the disease, which can cause an enlarged, weakened heart and eventual heart failure.

Large breeds have always been prone to the disease, but the new cases include a Shih Tzu, a bulldog, and a miniature schnauzer.

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in having an enlarged heart. As the dog’s heart and chambers become dilated, the heart becomes unable to pump normally, leading valves to leak and a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen.

It often results in heart failure, but can be improved if caught early.

Breeds more prone to the disease include larger breeds like Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers.

Among those reported cases, the dog’s diets frequently included potatoes, multiple legumes like peas, lentils, other seeds of legumes, as main ingredients, the FDA said.

Foods labeled “grain-free” typically have higher levels of legumes or potatoes, but it is not yet known how the ingredients are linked to the heart disease.

Medical records for four atypical DCM cases revealed three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, showed low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as a possible leading factor in the disease.

Other cases include a mini Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, and two Labrador Retrievers. The FDA is working with the Veterinary Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories investigate the potential association between these ingredients and DCM.

The FDA said it is in contact with pet food manufacturers that make the foods.

The FDA is encouraging pet owners and veterinary professionals to report any cases of DCM in dogs that are suspected of having a link to diet. To report a case, click here.

IKEA issues global recall of water dispensers after two dogs die of suffocation


IKEA has issued a global recall for a water dispenser for pets that caused the suffocation of at least two dogs.

The water dispenser was part of the Lurvig line of pet products IKEA introduced last fall.

The company is urging customers to immediately stop using the water dispenser and return it to any IKEA store for a full refund.

The Swedish company took the action after two dogs died after getting their heads stuck in the device.

The water dispenser is made up of two components. Its bottom serves as a water bowl and the base for an attachable transparent domed container that dispenses the water. The company did not disclose where the two dogs lived.

The water dispenser is no longer being included in the company’s catalog.

The $7.99 water dispenser was one of the 75 pet products the company introduced last October, including leashes, collars, bowls, to cat houses, dog beds, and poop bag dispensers.

Newest “World’s Ugliest Dog” dies at age 9

Sixteen days after winning the title of “World’s Ugliest Dog,” Zsa Zsa, a 9-year-old English bulldog, has died.

Zsa Zsa won the 30th annual contest on June 23. She passed way in her sleep Monday night, her owner, Megan Brainard, told the Star Tribune.

With her floppy tongue, crooked teeth, pronounced underbite and squished in face, Zsa Zsa captured the hearts of the judges at the annual contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair in Petaluma, California, which bestows the dubious honor annually.

zsa-zsa-today-tease-180625_f6982e248fea6a466e6e3f64763a2512.fit-560wThe contest describes itself as “all in fun,” and a way to promote dog adoption.

It has some hard core fans, some hard core contestants, and some critics, too, who say the competition has become a little too cut-throat, and too often features unhealthy, sickly and deformed dogs.

Some years, winning dogs have been expected abuse victims, or been given points for an “oozing sore.”

Nevertheless, it is greeted every year by the news media with puns and laughs.

After winning the annual contest in California, Zsa Zsa was flown to New York for an appearance on the morning shows, including NBC’s “Today Show” and “Fox & Friends.”

Brainard, of Anoka, Minnesota, adopted Zsa Zsa after spotting her on Petfinder. The dog had previously been rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri when she was five years old.

Brainard said she named Zsa Zsa after the Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, as the pup enjoyed lounging on the couch “like a beautiful model.”

Bassett hound is victim in sexual assault case involving MSU health physicist

hatteyMichigan State University has had its hands full with, and its coffers drained by, a sexual assault scandal involving the university physician who sexually abused young women under the guise of administering medical treatment.

Now comes another allegation, on behalf of a victim who is not a gymnast, but a bassett hound.

Joseph Hattey, a health physicist within MSU’s Environmental Health and Safety office, has been charged with two counts of bestiality.

Hattey, according to a press release by the Michigan attorney general’s office, penetrated the animal with his hand and his penis. It is not believed the crimes happened on the Michigan State University campus, and the dog was not one owned by the university.

Hattey, 51, had previously been assigned duties within the university’s Veterinarian Diagnostic Laboratory.

The bassett hound is in custody of Ingham County Animal Control.

An MSU spokesperson issued this statement:

“Michigan State University was informed by the MSU Police Department on April 17 of a criminal investigation against Joseph Hattey, a health physicist with the Environmental Health and Safety Unit (note this position does not work with students, patients or animals). Hattey was immediately put on administrative suspension, pending the investigation. The university has been and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials on this matter. MSUPD is providing digital forensic support in the investigation.”

Hattey entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment on the charges Monday. A preliminary hearing is set for June 21.

“These are merely allegations that have not been proven,” Hattey’s attorney, Alexander Rusek, told the Lansing State Journal. “Mr. Hattey pleaded not guilty in court today and looks forward to addressing the fact of the matter during the preliminary examination.”

Michigan State University has been rocked by a sex scandal involving a university physician who also served as doctor for the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team.

The university, under the terms of a settlement, has agreed to pay $500 million to victims of Lawrence G. Nassar, who was sentenced to 40-125 years in prison.

That settlement is believed to be the largest ever reached in a sexual abuse case involving an American university.

104-year-old man, after many rejections, finds a dog he can love

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At age 102, Milt Lessner had a little trouble locating a shelter or rescue that was willing to let him adopt a dog.

The retired psychiatrist has had dogs through most of this life and being without one — especially since the passing of his wife and their dogs several years ago — wasn’t acceptable.

So he began contacting rescue organizations and shelters, most of which, after learning his age, opted to decline his offer of a forever home — given his forever likely wasn’t all that long.

Finally, he found success through Lionel’s Legacy, a rescue in San Diego that specializes in older dogs. They arranged for him to foster a dog name Layla for as long as he’s able.

lessner2Layla is a senior herself, a mellow and affable little mutt and former stray, and as you might expect they have bonded. They’ve been together almost two years.

Milt is 104 now.

“In no time at all, we were quite friendly with each other,” Milt told the BBC. “She’s very conciliatory and very agreeable. “We’re trying to stay in good health, both of us. So far, we’ve succeeded and we’re still alive.”

As a psychiatrist, Milt used to bring dogs to his sessions to help relax his patients. He knows the health benefits — physical and emotional — they can provide.

“I enjoy the familiarity with them, and the pleasantness, and the bonding – especially the bonding. I can’t think of anything better,” he says.

Laura Oliver, founder of Lionel’s Legacy, says the pairing has benefited all involved.

“You can tell they’re both smitten,” she said.

(Photos: By Dona Tracy, via BBC)

Another example of how humans and dogs are becoming more alike: our poop


It’s never really looked at it in its entirety, as one phenomenon, but how alike dogs and humans are — and keep becoming — continues to astound scientists around the globe.

Compassion? Both species seem to have it. Cognition? Dogs are quite capable of that, perhaps even exceeding us in certain areas. The diseases and disorders we get? Pretty much the same.

Not too many people look at the forest — at what all this, cobbled together, might mean — but scientists from particular disciplines, locked in a lab with a narrow focus, keep discovering new similarities, such as this latest one, deep in our intestines.

The microorganisms that live in dog’s intestines are more similar to the microbes inside us than to those in other animals, says a new study published in the journal Microbiome.

The dog microbiome “has some of the same species [of bacteria] as the human’s,” said lead author Luis Pedro Coelhos, “but different strains.”

The researchers were surprised because they expected that dogs would share only a few strains of bacteria with their owners. Instead, their intestinal flora could be cousins, says a summary of the study in Popular Science.

The study was not really about those similarities; it was aimed at better understanding canine weight loss.

Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Nestlé Purina Research worked with a sample of 32 beagles and 32 Labrador retrievers. Half of the members of each breed were overweight, while the other half were a healthy weight. For four weeks, they fed all of the dogs the same diet of Purina.

Then, they collected poop and conducted DNA analyses as they further altered the diets of the dogs.

They found the leaner dogs’ microbiomes changed much less than that of the overweight dogs. The findings, they say, gave then a baseline for how a healthy dog microbiome should behave, and suggested dogs may be better subjects for research into human weight loss than other species that have been used for that purpose.

Jack Gilbert, a researcher at the University of Chicago’s Microbiome Center who does research for Purina but was not involved in the study, told Popular Science the study was significant for what it showed about the similarities between the guts of dogs and our own.

“You can control a dog’s diet much more than you can do a human’s,” says Gilbert. The same is true for pigs and mice, but the fact that dogs have such a similar microbiomes to humans means that studying their response to certain diets could produce the best results.

The cause of the similarities isn’t entirely understood, but the study pointed out, “Dogs were domesticated early in modern human history and frequently shared food resources with humans.”

Over time, their digestive systems might have grown even more like our’s, and their obesity rates have come to mirror that of humans.

Further proof that we don’t just like each other, we are like each other — and in ways that continue to be discovered, as we sit around learning, bonding, loving, overeating and growing fat together, becoming, more and more, reflections of each other.

(Photo: Digital Vision/Getty)

Rise of the French bulldog continues

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French bulldogs are now the most popular breed in New York and Los Angeles, and the fourth most popular nationwide, according to the American Kennel Club’s annual ranking of breed popularity.

This year’s national ranking show Frenchies climbing into the top five for the first time. Twenty years ago, the breed was 76th on the list.

And, no, we’re not burying the lede here.

Yes, Labrador retrievers have once again been proclaimed America’s most popular breed, but after 27 years in a row of that happening it hardly qualifies as news.

DSC06082The French bulldog’s rise is a fresher, more significant and more worrisome development, perhaps highlighting the divide between dainty big city breeds and those good ol’ breeds we’ve long held dear.

The breed jumped two spots from number six to number four in 2017. In doing so, it knocked the beagle out of the top five for the first time since 1998, and further cemented its hold on the top spot in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and West Palm Beach.

Yes, it is a trendy breed, and an urban breed. A French bulldog is not going to retrieve that duck whose life you just ended. You’re not going to see a French bulldog on the cover of Field and Stream.

One did make the cover of the Village Voice back in 2015, though, under the headline, “Don’t Buy This Dog.”

The breed had already become No. 1 in New York by then, and the article, by Michael Brandow, enumerated all the reasons that was a bad thing — chief among them the health problems the breed faces because of decades of inbreeding.

An excerpt:

“What’s wrong with French bulldogs? Where should I begin? Generations of unwise inbreeding to no good end, far beyond what would be needed to keep their signature looks, have left these cartoon critters with low resistance to illness and allergies. Physically handicapped at birth (by cesarean, because the heads are, like the owners’ pride, inflated) with squashed-in faces that are freakishly flat, they face serious challenges in performing some of any mammal’s basic functions — like getting enough oxygen and keeping their bodies at a safe temperature. Life’s burdens grow heavier under a long list of deformities preventing even mobility, and a task as simple as walking is no small feat.”

New Yorkers didn’t much heed the then-newsweekly’s warning. Demand just kept increasing, and with it so did worries about unscrupulous breeders and under-informed owners.

AKC officials say they expect the popularity of the downsized bulldogs with the pointed ears to continue as more city dwellers look for a breed that is compact and relatively quiet.

“The French bulldog is poised for a takeover,” AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo said in a statement, noting the breed’s “adaptability” and “loveable temperament.”

Here are the top 10 breeds in the U.S., according to the AKC:

1. Labrador retriever

2. German shepherd

3. Golden retriever

4. French bulldog

5. Bulldog

6. Beagle

7. Poodle

8. Rottweiler

9. Yorkshire terrier

10. German short-haired pointer