Weekly News Roundup 8/9 to 8/15

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Scientists turn to canines (and their noses) in fight to save endangered species

Man’s best friend could be Hawaii’s newest weapon in the fight against invasive species. Wildlife biologists are training dogs to sniff out some of the biggest threats to endangered species in Hawaii. The science is new, but it’s showing promising results. In one small study, the US Geological Survey’s Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center partnered with Country Canines to train four dogs to detect avian botulism. The disease has significantly decreased the population of koloa maoli, a native duck, in Hawaii. The idea behind the study was to determine whether the dogs would be able to sniff out birds who had died from avian botulism so scientists could remove them, lowering the risk of the sickness spreading to other birds through water. . . . more

Scientists at the University of Oklahoma find molecule that neutralizes skunk odor

In what’s likely going to be the start of a sigh of relief for many, scientists at the University of Oklahoma (OU) have found a way to neutralize skunk odor. If you or your pet has been sprayed, you know how big of a pain it can be to get rid of the smell, so you’d think research on getting rid of skunk smells would have started with a bad experience. However, that’s not really the case here. “I’ve been fortunate to never be the direct source of anger of a skunk,” said Robert Cichewicz, PhD. Cichewicz said it actually started with cancer research, using soil sent to OU from Alaska from a member of their citizen science program. “Well, along the way, we encountered this new molecule—it’s called pericosine.” . . . more

John Howe, DVM, begins term as AVMA president

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA’s) 2019 Convention in Washington, DC, saw a change in the association’s senior staff. John Howe, DVM, of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, has officially begun his term as AVMA president. In his new role, Howe, who previously served as executive board member, vice president, and president of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association, says he will focus on the best interests of AVMA members. “Of course, our members’ needs come first,” Howe says. “The personal and professional health and wellbeing of the entire veterinary team during all stages of their careers is of primary concern. We have tools that enable you to develop a wellbeing plan for your entire team, a 24/7 cyberbullying hotline, economic tools to improve your practice’s bottom line, and so much more.” . . . more

Pet tags link widely used flame retardant to hyperthyroidism in cats

Feline hyperthyroidism is the most common endocrine-related disease of older cats, and its prevalence has skyrocketed since the first case was diagnosed in 1979. At the same time, new household flame retardants were introduced, and recently, scientists have suspected a link. Now, researchers reporting in Environmental Science & Technology have associated hyperthyroidism with another class of flame retardants thanks to silicone pet tags similar to the popular wristbands that many people wear for charitable causes. . . . more

Mystery solved? Why cats eat grass

Most cat owners will tell you if a cat eats grass and then throws up, it must mean she’s got an upset stomach. But that’s not necessarily true. Cats actually eat grass all the time. People only notice the practice when they make a foaming green mess on the rug. Researchers from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine ran a web-based survey asking cat owners to report how often their outdoor cats ate vegetation. The survey, which counted 1,021 cat owners, revealed that cats nibble on greenery quite often—the interesting part is that 91% of the time, the cat did not appear sick before eating the grass. . . . more