DNA tells story behind blue eyes
• Siberian huskies are known for their striking blue eyes, and researchers may have discovered the source of the trait, thanks to dog DNA testing. A study published earlier this month in the open-access journal PLOS Genetics looked at a panel of more than 6,000 genetically tested dogs whose owners provided phenotypic (appearance) information such as eye color about their pets. They found that a duplication on canine chromosome 18 was strongly associated with blue eye color in Siberian huskies, as well as with blue eye color in non-merle Australian shepherds. Scientists at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine partnered with dog DNA company Embark to make the discovery. In a blog post, senior scientist Aaron Sams wrote, “While more work will need to be done to figure out exactly how this duplication leads to the development of blue eyes, we think that this duplication may disrupt the process by which pigment is deposited in the iris of the eye during development.”
• The demand for veterinary specialists such as radiologists, cardiologists and more is outstripping supply, according to a report earlier this month in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. In highest demand are internal medicine, surgery and emergency and critical care specialists, but more veterinary ophthalmologists, dermatologists and dentists are needed as well.
• It’s not too late to celebrate Adopt-A-Dog Month, sponsored by the American Humane Association; Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, sponsored by the ASPCA; National Animal Safety and Protection Month; National Pet Wellness Month; National Pit Bull Awareness Month; National Service Dog Month; and on October 29, National Cat Day. Ways to mark the occasions include adopting a pet; volunteering time at a shelter; handing out information about pet care, health or adoptions to friends, family and neighbors; and sharing profiles of adoptable pets on social networks. — Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker