Before you wipe off that next dog kiss — not that too many ohmidog! readers are the sort that do that — you might want to think about this:
Some of those doggy bacteria that dog-disliking alarmists and hand-wringing medical types are always warning us about might actually be good for you.
As with Greek yogurt and kimchee, some of the microbes lurking in a dog’s gut could have a probiotic effect on the owners’ body, aiding in both digestion and overall health.
Researchers at the University of Arizona are now seeking volunteers to take part in a study to prove just that — and here’s the coolest part: Volunteers, if they want, can keep the shelter dog assigned to them when the study is done.
The “Dogs as Probiotics” study will focus specifically on the effect dogs have on the health of older people — in terms of physical well-being, mental well-being and cognitive functioning.
“We already know that dogs make us happier and in some ways healthier. The main point of this study is to try and understand whether or not there is an actual biological component behind this,” Kim Kelly, a UA doctoral student in medical anthropology, and one of the study’s primary investigators,
told the Arizona Daily Star.
“This has the potential to change the field in terms of how we understand, think about and use microbes to improve our health,” she said.
The study team is recruiting adults over the age of 50 and asking them to live with a dog from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona for three months.
Both the human and canine subjects will undergo tests of an non-invasive sort during the study to determine whether or not the positive microbes in the humans increase, and whether it correlates with improved immune measures in older adults.
Probiotics are often referred as “good” or “helpful” bacteria. They can help keep the intestines healthy, assist in digesting food, and are believed to help the immune system.
Kelly, along with researchers at the University of San Diego and the University of Colorado, will explore whether living with a dog encourages the growth of positive micro organisms in the human gut.
“We essentially want to find out, is a dog acting like yogurt in having a probiotic effect,” she said.
In addition, researchers will monitor participants for any changes in the mental health and emotional well-being.
Once the scientists are done, human participants will have the option of keeping the dog they kept in their home during the study.
We’re guessing that — whether their digestion has improved or not — most of them will.
Who wouldn’t want someone who has been kissing them for three months to hang around?
(Video: Attendees at the SPCA of Maryland’s March for the Animals, 2009, receiving some free probiotics from my dog Ace; photo: Kim Kelly and her cocker spaniel Katie, courtesy of Kim Kelly)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 24th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ace, animals, bacteria, benefits, cognition, digestion, digestive, dog, dogs, dogs as probiotics, germs, good bacteria, health, health benefits, humane society of southern arizona, kim kelly, kisses, kissing, licking, licks, mental health, microbes, pets, probiotics, study, university of arizona, volunteers
Amid the bashing she’s taking on the Internet for picking her dog up by the tail, there are those coming to the defense of Rebecca Cross, owner of Knopa, the Scottish terrier who won Best in Show at Crufts.
But the explanations those defenders offer, and their justifications for the practice — which has existed for years — are disingenuous, misleading and often a little arrogant.
The only time, in our opinion, that a dog should be picked up by his or her tail is … NEVER!
There may be those in the dog show community, and in the worlds of hunters and breeders, who say that view is naive — that certain breeds can handle it. Then again, they have never been picked up by their tails.
Let’s look at their arguments.
1. The tails of some dog breeds are meant to serve that function. They are born with sturdier tails to provide us humans with handles so we can pull them out when they go into holes. Baloney. Clearly, neither God nor evolution put tails on animals to serve as handles for humans. And if breeders have worked to give certain breeds stronger tails, with that in mind, then they had the wrong thing in mind, which is often the case. Their tinkering with dog breeds to make them cuter, lower maintenance or more useful to humans — all in the name of sales, of course — leads to no good, and to bogus arguments like this one.
2. You shouldn’t do it, but, being highly skilled professionals, it’s OK for us to lift certain small breeds by their tails. Balderdash! Running around in a circle with a dog, and brushing its hair, doesn’t make you a highly skilled professional. Showing a dog doesn’t require a PhD. You’re not a doctor, and if you were you’d know that, the tail being an extension of the spine, it should not be used to hold up even part of a dog’s weight.
3. When a dog is picked up that way, most of the pressure is on the front end of the dog, and the tail is simply used as a guide. Bullshit — pardon our language — but anyone with the slightest understanding of physics can see that, when a dog is picked up this way, the tail is carrying at least some of the dog’s weight. And when the front end is being supported by a hand on his or her throat, rather than his or her chest, that too is problematic.
4. If it hurt them, dogs would yelp and whine. Wrong again! That’s not true of real world dogs, or show dogs — maybe especially show dogs who have accepted the fact that the human showing them is going to do this, just as they have accepted the judges who insist on grasping their packages to check for “conformity.”
5. We’ve always done it that way. We all know that is no defense at all; rather, it’s an excuse used by those who — even when someone is showing them a better way — stubbornly insist on living in the past. And if ever there was a vestige of the past, it’s purebred dog shows.
Those defending the practice offer plenty of what they, at least, see as justification, but little explanation of the reason for picking up a dog this way in the first place.
In that way, the tail lift symbolizes what, at the root, is wrong with dog shows.
And that’s the “appearance above all” mentality behind them.
Judging dogs on their looks — as called for by breed organizations and breed standards — causes suffering and is not in the best interest of the species.
Shows like Crufts and Westminster value “looks over the welfare and health of dogs which can lead to their early death, and that’s not acceptable if we’re really a nation of dog lovers,” RSPCA spokesperson Violet Owens told the BBC.
Although the dog owner’s comments didn’t sound too apologetic — she said she lifted her dog by the tail due to force of habit — Cross did apologize, according to UK Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko.
And just for the record Kisko also said that — no matter what the breed — picking up a dog by its tail is a no-no, at least at Crufts:
“Those showing at Crufts receive clear written guidance on handling their dog, in order to ensure the dog’s welfare, and this guidance makes it clear that dogs should not be handled in this way,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 13th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeds, crufts, dog, dog shows, dogs, handlers, handling, health, improper, judges, kennel club, knopa, pets, picked up, proper, purebreds, rebecca cross, rspca, safety, tail, westminster
That’s about the same alcohol percentage as wine.
Made by Pet Organics, Good-Dog! is “for dogs that are unruly or hyper” and “helps to make your dog happy & content,” according to its label.
So would a nice merlot, but substantial amounts of alcohol aren’t recommended for dogs, and in large amounts it can by toxic.
More than 750 people signed a change.org petition for Petco to remove Good-Dog!, which claims to be made with “all natural ingredients.”
Petco spokesman initially said the product is safe, when used as directed — only a few drops should be added to the dogs water bowl.
“…This product has no negative effect on pets, and no known pet deaths or illnesses have been associated with this product in the 10 years it has been sold at Petco,” the spokesman said.
But after 7News in Denver reported the story, Petco announced that it has voluntarily recalled Good Dog Pet Calming Supplement, and issued the following statement:
“The health and safety of pets and people is Petco’s top priority. We sell a variety of calming remedies for pets with anxiety and also recommend that pet parents consult with their vet to ensure that there are no underlying health issues. In light of recent concerns expressed by some of our customers with regard to Good Dog Pet Calming Supplement, and this product’s alcohol content, we have decided to issue a voluntary recall, effective immediately…”
Dr. Narda Robinson, a veterinarian and physician at Colorado State University, said the case is indicative of a broader issue — a lack of regulation for homeopathic drugs for pets.
“If this product has a calming effect, it’s probably because of the alcohol, not because of the homeopathic medicine,” she said.
Dr. Tina Wismer, with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center said many herbal medications have an alcohol base.
“They are supposed to be dosed at a couple of drops per animal. Certainly if they ingested the entire bottle and it was a small animal, they may become intoxicated,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alcohol, animals, anxiety, behavior, calm, calming, content, dog, dogs, good dog, health, homeopathic, pet organics, petco, pets, pulled, pulls, safety, sedativ, supplement, veterinary
Petco says it has pulled all Chinese-made dog and cat treats from store shelves, fulfilling a promise the chain made to customers last May.
“We know some pet parents are wary of dog and cat treats made in China, especially chicken jerky products, and we’ve heard their concerns,” Jim Myers, Petco’s chief executive, said Monday — a good seven years after complaints first surfaced about chicken treats made in China sickening and killing dogs.
The FDA has been investigating the treats since 2007, but has yet to yet to establish a definite link to the deaths and sicknesses.
Thousands of pets have fallen ill — hundreds fatally — leading to 5,000 complaints of pet illnesses suspected to have been caused by chicken, duck, and vegetable jerky treats made in China.
Despite steadily rising concerns, American companies continued to market the treats (under the names Waggin’ Tail and Milo’s Kitchen, among others), and the country’s largest pets stores, including Petco and PetSmart, continued to sell them.
Petco,which has not sold China-made dog and cat foods for several years, announced last May that it would clear store shelves of the jerky treats. (We’re still not clear on why doing so would take seven months.)
PetSmart, which, like Petco, operates more than 1,300 stores nationally, has pledged to remove all Chinese-made pet treats from its stores by spring, according to the Washington Post.
Nestle Purina and Del Monte, which own the brands such Waggin’ Tail and Milo’s Kitchen, stopped selling chicken jerky dog treats made in China back in 2012, calling the shift precautionary.
The Petco announcement applies only to treats made with jerky and rawhide, according to Lily Gluzberg, a spokesperson for the company.
The FDA has been unable to tie the illnesses specifically to Chinese-made pet foods, despite testing more than a thousand samples and inspecting factories in China. But it continues to investigate.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 9th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, chicken, china, chinese, dog, dogs, fda, health, jerky, milos kitchen, pet products, petco, pets, petsmart, removed, shelves, treats, waggin train, warning
Two University of Washington scientists think it might be possible to slow the aging process in canines and are launching a pilot study with 30 dogs to see if the drug rapamycin significantly extends their lifespans.
The researchers, using $200,000 in seed money from the University of Washington, plan to use pets, not laboratory animals, for the initial study, and recruit volunteer dogs — or at least dogs whose owners volunteer them — for larger scale studies in the future.
Daniel Promislow, an evolutionary geneticist, and Matthew Kaeberlein, a molecular biologist, say the study is aimed at determining whether rapamycin could lead to longer lives for dogs — as studies have shown is the case when it’s used on yeast, fruit flies, worms and mice.
“We’re not talking about doubling the healthy life spans of pets,” said Kaeberlein. “But at a minimum I would predict that you would get a 10 to 15 percent increase in average life span, and I think bigger effects are possible.”
In the pilot study, 30 large, middle-aged dogs will be involved — half receiving low doses of rapamycin, half receiving placebos.
The researchers say that subsequent studies will seek to enroll pet dogs from across the country.
Kaeberlein and Promislow hosted a meeting in Seattle last week where experts from across the country discussed the drug rapamycin and its possible effects on the health and longevity of dogs, the Seattle Times reported.
Currently used along with other medications to prevent rejection in organ-transplant patients, rapamycin has been called a promising anti-aging drug — though there have been no studies involving humans.
But almost 50 laboratory studies have shown that the compound can delay the onset of some diseases and degenerative processes and restore vigor to elderly animals, extending life spans by 9 to 40 percent.
Rapamycin functions, in part, by inactivating a protein that promotes cell growth. As a result, cells grow more slowly, which retards the spread of cancer.
Promislow, who has two elderly dogs of his own, noted that even if the drug doesn’t increase the life span of dogs, it could serve to keep them healthy longer. “We’re trying to understand why some dogs age better than others, and help all dogs age in a better way,” he said.
The drug has been shown to have serious side effects, including poor wound healing and an increased risk of diabetes, when used at the high doses required for organ transplant patients.
But the low doses used in anti-aging research with mice and other lab animals cause few side effects.
There have been no large-scale human trials. Studying how the drug affects dogs — who suffer many of the same old-age ailments as their masters — makes it possible to explore the possible benefits of rapamycin both more quickly and at a lesser cost.
If it does turn out to be a sort of fountain of youth — for dogs, humans, or both — the potential profits would be enormous.
“I think it’s worth a go, not just from what it can teach us about humans, but for the sake of the animals themselves,” said University of Alabama Biology Department Chairman Steven Austad, an expert in aging research who is not involved in the project. “It may not work in dogs, but if it did, boy, it’s going to be huge.”
According to the Seattle Times article, drug companies aren’t very interested in rapamycin because it’s no longer under patent.
But the researchers are hoping dog lovers, dog-food companies and some foundations might be willing to contribute to further research.
They’ve set up a website, dogagingproject.com,where people can donate and sign their dogs up to take part in the research.
“Given how I feel about my pets, I see this as a unique project where there’s a real potential for citizen science,” Kaeberlein said. “I think it would be great if pet owners who are really interested in improving the health of their animals would help fund this work.”
(Photos: UW scientists Matt Kaeberlein, with his dog Dobby, and Dan Promislow, with his dog Frisbee; by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, anti aging, anti aging drug, biology, cancer, cells, citizen science, compound, Daniel Promislow, death, dog, dogs, drug, drugs, extending, fountain of youth, funding, geneticist, health, ifespan, laboratory, life, lifespans, lives, longer, Matthew Kaeberlein, molecular, pets, rapamycin, research, sickness, study, university of washington
Bentley and Nina are together again.
Dallas nurse Nina Pham reunited with her dog, Bentley, Saturday — after her successful treatment for Ebola and Bentley’s 21-day quarantine, during which the Cavalier King Charles spaniel repeatedly tested negative for the disease.
Pham was diagnosed with Ebola and hospitalized after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan — the first person to die of Ebola in the United States — at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
She was later transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., where she was declared free of the virus and released on Oct. 24.
Bentley’s quarantine ended at 2 a.m. Saturday and he was in Pham’s arms by 8:30 a.m., according to the Dallas Morning News.
“I join everyone in Dallas in welcoming Nina and Bentley back to the community,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said at a news conference at Hensley Field in southwest Dallas.
Unlike in Spain, where the first dog of an Ebola patient was exterminated, officials in Dallas showed a more compassionate response — and, given there have been no reports of dogs and cats getting sick with the disease, a more reasonable one — deciding to hold the dog in seclusion and monitor him.
During Bentley’s 21-day confinement at the decommissioned naval air base, vets wearing full protective suits brought him food and water and collected feces, urine and blood samples for tests as a lab in Dallas.
“I’d like to take a moment to thank people from all around the world who have sent their best wishes and prayers to me and Mr. Bentley,” Pham, 26, said.
“After I was diagnosed with Ebola, I didn’t know what would happen to Bentley or if he would have the virus,” she said. “I was frightened that I could possibly not know what would happen to one of my best friends.”
Pham thanked the Dallas Animal Services staff, Texas A&M University and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and state and county health workers.
“Thank you again for helping taking care of Bentley over the last 21 days, caring for him as if he was your own and showing America that passion and love is abundant and alive,” she said.
“I feel like Bentley reentering my life is yet another reminder of hope and encouragement for me moving forward,” she added.
Bentley will turn two later this month.
(Photo: Andy Jacobsohn / Dallas Morning News)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 2nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bentley, cavalier king charles spaniel, dallas, dallas animal services, disease, dogs, ebola, health, hospital, nina pham, nurse, pets, quarantine, reunion, virus
It may only be a short-term one, but a dying man in a Kentucky hospital seemed to have a new lease on life after a visit from his Chihuahua.
And ditto for the dog.
James Wathen, after a month in the hospital, wasn’t doing well, and had stopped eating, hospital workers say.
Social workers at Baptist Health Corbin, trying to lift his spirits, talked to him and learned he was troubled by the loss of his dog, Bubba, who had been picked up by animal control after he was hospitalized.
Between hospital staff and workers at the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter, Bubba was tracked down at a foster home, and — despite rules forbidding dog visits — one was arranged at the hospital earlier this month, WKYT reported.
“One of our social workers realized it was mourning the loss of the dog that was making our patient even worse and emotionally unhealthy. We pulled out all the stops and found the dog,” Kimberly Probus, chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Corbin, said.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” Probus said of the reunion.
Wathen, 73, began to cry when he saw his elderly, one-eyed Chihuahua, and then his mood began to brighten.
Bubba’s condition — he’d been emotionally distraught since their separation, and had stopped eating, too — also seemed to improve.
Hospital officials say they plan to have Bubba visit Wathen regularly, and — based on what they saw — they are also looking at implementing a new pet visitation policy.
“To see James and Bubba get back together. It was heartwarming. It’s why we do what we do,” Mary-Ann Smyth, Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter President, said.
Smyth said Bubba seemed sad on the way to the hospital, but perked up about 20 steps from Wathen’s room.
“The dog quit eating a week ago, which is very strange,” she told Today. “The dog didn’t know where James was and James didn’t know where the dog was and believe it or not, they both stopped eating at about the same time.”
By the time Bubba returned for a second visit on Oct. 14, there were visible changes in both Wathen and Bubba’s conditions.
“He’s done a complete turnaround, Smyth said of Wathen. “He’s speaking, he’s sitting up, he’s eating. He doesn’t look like the same guy. And the dog is eating and doing better now, too.”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baptist health corbin, bond, bubba, chihuahua, dog, dogs, health, hospital, james wathen, kentucky, knox-whitley animal shelter, loss, mourning, patient, pets, reunion, separation, shelter, visits, wellness