UC Davis Researchers Discover the Genetics Behind Disc Disease in Dogs

Many FACE financial grants for critical veterinary assistance are awarded to owners of dogs with a serious spinal condition called intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).  IVDD is a major cause of pain and paralysis in certain dog breeds, especially those with short legs like the Dachshund, French Bulldog, Corgi, Basset Hound, and Pekingese.

In IVDD, the discs in a dog’s spine can degenerate over the course of time or suddenly herniate, depending on the type of IVDD the dog suffers from.  IVDD is a painful condition that often requires surgery and physical rehabilitation.

Recently, researchers at the University of California Davis have discovered the genetic mutation responsible for chondrodystrophy, which is a genetic trait that many IVDD-prone breeds share.  It’s characterized by changes in bone growth, leading to short long bones (legs) and premature spinal disc calcification and degeneration.

The scientists report that dogs with IVDD are 50 times more likely to have this mutation.  The gene identified, the FGF4 retrogene, was found to play a key role in bone development for dogs with chondrodystrophy.  FGF abnormalities in humans can lead to conditions like dwarfism.

Identification of this mutation can help control the incidence of IVDD in dogs.  The UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory offers two genetics tests for breeders and owners of short-legged breeds prone to IVDD.  Breeders can test for IVDD risk in their dogs, identifying those that are carriers of 0, 1, or 2 copies of the gene.

 

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Owner Education Helps Prevent Undesirable Behaviors in Cats

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Most cat owners will tell you that there are some fairly common cat behavior problems they would like to solve…things like scratching the furniture, jumping on kitchen counters, or scratching/biting while getting pets are just a few examples. What impact does a little education for new kitten owners have on feline behavior problems? As one Italian study found out, quite a lot.

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Researchers studied a total of 91 kittens, divided into two groups. In the first group, owners were provided with advice from veterinarians on how to prevent undesirable behaviors in their cats, both at an initial visit, and then at a follow-up visit 10 months later. In the second group, owners had just one session with the vet.

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Results showed that owners who got one educational visit reported significantly more problems than those who got two opportunities to talk to the vet about behavior issues (43.5% vs. 15.6%). Owners who got less education reported that their cats were more likely to climb on multiple pieces of furniture (and curtains), vocalize more, and disturb them more while in bed or watching TV than those who got more education.

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The owners who got more advice reported that their cats were more likely to climb on only allowed pieces of furniture. The cats were also more likely to seek out physical contact when the owners returned home and were less likely to disturb them at other times. These cats were also more likely to accept petting on any part of the body.

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The results indicate that early–and repeated–education of new cat owners by veterinarians (or others such as pet adoption counselors) on feline behavior issues can go a long way towards solving many of the most common behavior problems seen in cats. For more information on the study, click HERE.

 

Tips to Ensure that You and Your Pets are Prepared for an Emergency

No one likes to think about or anticipate emergency situations or disasters, but planning for such crises can save you and your pets in the long run.  Regardless of where you live, these tips–compiled from the ASPCA, FEMA, and Ready.gov–will simplify your response to an emergency.

1. The cardinal rule of managing an emergency: During an evacuation, always bring your pets!  If you can’t get to your animals, discuss with your neighbors a plan to evacuate your pets (this is a reciprocal agreement, and will guarantee the animals’ safety).  Window decals or stickers on your front door or main windows will alert emergency response teams that there are animals in your house in need of rescue.

2. Not all emergency shelters house animals during crises; contact your veterinarian or local shelters for information on where you can house your pet safely during a disaster.

3. Emergency kits for your animals are equally as important as for humans.  Gather First Aid supplies, one week’s worth of food and water per pet, medications, veterinary records, litter/litter trays, antibacterial wipes, trash bags, dishes, a blanket, leashes, collars, toys, and a flashlight.  It is also wise to carry a recent photo of your pet(s); in case of separation, the photo assists in the recovery of your pet.  A crate or carrier will contain your animal, too.

4. Make sure your pets are wearing tags or boasting a microchip.

For more information, please reference the following websites:

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/disaster-preparedness/

http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/pets.html

http://www.fema.gov/plan/prepare/animals.shtm

http://www.petfinder.com/disaster

http://www.uan.org/index.cfm?navid=36

Visit the “Vet’s Corner” at Face4Pets.org for Answers to FAQs about Pets and Pet Safety!

As pet parents or family members, we all question our animals’ behaviors, actions, and safety at some point in time.  Whether your dog eats her feces (yuck!), or you question your pet’s diet, a veterinarian’s opinion, diagnosis, or advice are integral in maintaining your pet’s health and happiness.  While the “Vet’s Corner” cannot replace a consultation with your pet’s own vet, it provides important, helpful information, and it is definitely worth a look!

To follow the “Vet’s Corner, ” please visit http://face4pets.org/VetsCorner.aspx

Happy Wednesday!

Love,

The FACE Team (and Yogi, the FACE Office Dog)