Purebred dogs help with human health
• Efforts to identify genetic markers for diseases are getting a boost from purebred dogs. While people (aside from, possibly, royal families) breed more or less randomly, purebred dogs have traceable lineage, and typically trace from a small population of dogs. Writing in The New England Journal of Medicine, Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute noted that this means canine genes may hold the answers to conditions such as epilepsy and those that cause blindness and kidney cancer.
• The trend toward ever-fatter dogs and cats continues, according to DVM360.com. Citing data gathered by Banfield Pet Hospitals, the industry news website noted that veterinary visits by more than 2 million dogs and 430,000 cats revealed weight gains in both populations. The incidence of excessive weight in dogs is up 37 percent since 2007. The incidence in cats is worse, with the prevalence of overweight cats increasing 90 percent since 2007.
• Many cats in chronic renal failure are maintained for months and even years with regular at-home administration of subcutaneous fluids. (A wonderful tutorial is on the DVM360.com website at http://tinyurl.com/PetConSubQ.) While at-home treatment is relatively easy and inexpensive, the future of kitty kidney care may be stem cells. Colorado State University researchers are conducting a study of cats who have chronic renal failure but no other health problems to determine how stem cells affect kidney disease.
— Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori