Scientists Find Genetic Link Between Human and Canine Mental Health Issues

A study of anxiety and fearfulness in German Shepherd dogs has identified a genetic connection with certain mental health disorders in humans.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki studied noise sensitivity and general fearfulness (such as fear of new people and situations) in a group of Finnish German Shepherd dogs.

They found that generalized anxiety in dogs can be located to an area of the canine chromosome that corresponds to a similar area of the human chromosome which has been linked to such conditions as schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder.

The researchers note that it has been more difficult to identify a genetic cause of noise sensitivity in both dogs and humans.  They think that noise sensitivity may be related to flaws in certain receptors for neurotransmitters, such as oxytocin.

The genetic basis of fearfulness in this group of German Shepherd dogs shows that, in some cases, fearfulness in dogs may be hereditary.  Of course, environmental factors can also play a role in canine anxiety.

You can read the full text of this study HERE.

Dog Lost in California Wildfire Found After 101 Days

The Ballejos family of Paradise, California reunited with their Akita Kingston 101 days after he went missing during last year’s devastating Camp Fire.

Kingston jumped out of their truck while they were evacuating, and the family never gave up hope that they would find their dog again.

Animal rescuers have been searching the fire area for months.  They have found dozens of dogs and cats lost during the fire.

Kingston seems to have survived by hunting and eating skunks, based on his pungent scent when they found him!

Click HERE for a heartwarming news video of the happy reunion!

Image:  Ben Lepe, Associated Press

CDC Traces Campylobacter Outbreak to Pet Store Puppies

Animal advocates have been warning potential dog owners to avoid getting puppies from retail pet stores because they come from large scale, for profit breeding operations known as puppy mills.

Now there’s another reason to say no to pet store puppies.

A report on the American Veterinarian website notes that 118 people in 18 states have become infected with the Campylobacter jejuni bacteria after being exposed to pet store puppies.  These puppies were traced to multiple puppy mills and distributors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been monitoring the outbreak, virtually all of the infected humans have had direct physical contact with pet store puppies, including several pet store employees.

The Campylobacter bacteria causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.  No human fatalities have been reported with this outbreak, although there were several hospitalizations.

The CDC reports an added concern with this outbreak…the bacteria has shown a resistance to all the antibiotics commonly used to treat Campylobacter.

The CDC recommends that people wash their hands thoroughly after touching pet store puppies (employees should wear gloves for cleaning) and avoid eating around the animals.

They also note that overuse of antibiotics in commercial breeding facilities can contribute to drug resistant bacterial strains, and the use of antibiotics should always be supervised by a veterinarian.


Meet FACE Success Story Marmalade!

Marmalade is a beautiful odd-eyed white kitty who was diagnosed with a urinary blockage…one of the most common emergency veterinary health issues we help with FACE grants.

Marmalade needed life-saving surgery to address his urinary obstruction, and we are happy to report that he is now recovering at home with his loving family.

His humans sent us a note with the good news about his health and a kind thank you for the financial assistance we were able to provide for his care:

“Thank you so much for saving our precious kitty’s life! We couldn’t imagine a world without this sweet loving boy in it and that is what would have happened without the amazingly generous help that the FACE Foundation and its donors provided to us. You have truly enriched our lives in a way that we will be eternally thankful for! It warms our hearts to know that there is such a wonderful organization in our community!”

We’d like to extend *our thanks* to all of our kind donors and supporters for making success stories like Marmalade’s happen!


Dogs and Humans Share Similar Gut Microbiomes

The human microbiome (the many microorganisms that live in and on our body) is a popular topic in science news these days.  Researchers are especially interested in how the microbes that live in our intestines impact our health and well-being.

Our pets have microbiomes too, and a recent study of the canine gut microbiome has found that humans and dogs share many similarities.  Dogs are more like humans in the gut microbiome than either pigs or mice.

Why are we so similar?  The study authors suspect that it has a lot to do with similarities in our diets.

The researchers randomly assigned two different diets to a group of dogs.  One was high protein/low carbohydrate and the other was a lower protein/higher carb diet.

The genes of the dogs’ gut microbes were sequenced using poop samples.  They were then compared to the genes of the gut microbes of humans and other animals.

The researchers found that we share more similarities with dogs than with pigs or mice.  They also found that dogs on the high protein/low carb diet experienced more changes in the gut microbiome than dogs on the higher carb diet.  This was especially true for overweight dogs.

Humans show similar gut microbiome changes when our diets are altered as well.  The researchers note that both dogs and humans with healthy body weights have more stable gut microbiomes, while obesity can lead to less stable gut microbiomes and an increased sensitivity to dietary changes.