Weekly News Roundup 12/7–12/13


Cat food recalled due to low thiamine level concerns

J.M. Smucker Company has announced that certain lots of its 9Lives Protein Plus wet canned cat food are being recalled due to possible low levels of thiamine (vitamin B1). The company voluntarily issued the recall after the potential for low thiamine levels was identified internally during finished product testing. Cats who are fed diets low in thiamine over the course of several weeks may be at risk for developing a thiamine deficiency, the signs of which can be gastrointestinal or neurological. Signs of onset thiamine deficiency include decreased appetite, salivation, vomiting, failure to grow, and weight loss. To date, no illnesses related to this issue have been reported and the company said the recall is being conducted out of an abundance of caution and in cooperation with the FDA. See a list of the impacted products here.

Dog research at VA gets formal review

Dog research at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is going under the microscope. This week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC, began a formal review of studies involving nearly 100 canines at four VA facilities to determine whether the animals are being properly treated—and whether the work is necessary. If the VA decides to end its controversial dog research, it will be the first time a federal agency has stopped working on an entire species of animals since the US Fish and Wildlife Service effectively outlawed all biomedical research on chimpanzees in 2015, says Cindy Buckmaster, chair of the board of directors of Americans for Medical Progress, a Washington, DC, nonprofit that promotes the need for animals in labs. “The findings from this report will impact how science is done on dogs across the country.”

Microplastics found in the gut of every sea turtle in new study

Plastic was found in the gut of every single sea turtle examined in a new study, casting fresh light on the scale of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. The study examined more than 100 sea turtles of all seven species across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory, along with Greenpeace Research Laboratories, looked for synthetic particles including microplastics in the bodies of 102 sea turtles. More than 800 synthetic particles were found in the turtles and researchers warned that the true number of particles was probably 20 times higher, as only a part of each animal’s gut was tested. The researchers carried out their research by conducting necropsies on turtles who had died either by getting stranded or by being caught accidentally by fishermen.

Viking cat skeletons reveal a surprising growth in the size of felines over time

Many animals shrink when they become domesticated—the average dog is about 25% smaller than its wild cousin the gray wolf, for example—but a curious thing appears to have happened to cats during the Viking era: they got bigger. More research is needed to confirm the new finding, but there’s a good chance it had to do with being more well fed.

Balancing motherhood and veterinary school is especially challenging

Mothers who work outside the home are already well acquainted with the stress of balancing their families’ and employers’ competing needs and expectations. Those issues are compounded by other challenges for women who are in veterinary training, according to two new studies by researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Research on policies and support for pregnancy and parenting in physician training date back to 1984, but the authors of the new studies are the first to describe policies at US veterinary schools, where approximately 80% of the student, intern, and resident population is made up of women in their peak reproductive years. The researchers found widespread challenges for veterinary trainees considering parenthood—including at Tufts, which is working to address them.