Weekly News Roundup 11/1 to 11/7

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Nationwide announces winner of 2019’s oddest pet insurance claim

The insurance company announced Tuesday that an Atlanta-area cat named Minnow won their annual Hambone Award (named after a dog who ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a refrigerator) for most unusual pet insurance claim. Minnow had gone missing for three weeks, then returned home with a broken rib and down one-third of her body weight. (While that isn’t terribly unique, the rest of her story is.) Staff at AAHA-accredited Midway Animal Hospital helped save Minnow, and have now received $10,000 from Nationwide to fund medical care for pets in need. . . . more

VIN foundation announces fourth annual Solutions for the Profession Competition

The Veterinary Information Network (VIN) Foundation announced its fourth annual Solutions for the Profession Competition for veterinary students—with a $3,000 scholarship going to the first place winner. The first annual competition challenged students to provide solutions to problems they see facing the veterinary profession. The second asked students to share what they wish they knew before applying to veterinary school. And the third requested them to share their views on the impact of practice consolidation on the profession. This year’s competition asks veterinary students whether their veterinary school education is effective, efficient, and relevant to their career goals. The topic encourages them to assess their veterinary school experience—how their time and money are spent and suggest ways to improve the education provided by their veterinary school. . . . more

These are all the animals that have been launched into space

Sixty-one years ago this week, the Soviet Union launched a dog known as Laika into orbit above the Earth aboard the Sputnik 2 spacecraft. Laika—a stray picked up from the streets of Moscow—was the first animal to orbit our planet and became a global sensation. However, she did not survive the mission and died a few hours after launch. Despite her place in history, Laika was not actually the first animal in space. American and Russian scientists had been sending living organisms beyond the extent of Earth’s atmosphere for at least a decade before Sputnik 2 to observe how their bodies reacted to microgravity and the other unique conditions present there. The main aim was to try and understand whether humans could actually survive in space. Sadly, many of these animals were killed during such missions, but the lessons learned were crucial in paving the way for the first human spaceflights in 1961. However, living creatures are still used in space missions for other research purposes. . . . more

Estrogen’s opposing effects on mammary tumors in dogs

Dogs who are spayed at a young age have a reduced risk of developing mammary tumors, the canine equivalent of breast cancer. Early spaying reduces levels of estrogen production, leading many veterinarians and scientists to cast estrogen in a negative light when it comes to mammary cancer. But the effects of estrogen on cancer risk in dogs aren’t straightforward, according to a new study led by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. While it’s clear that spaying dogs greatly minimizes their risk of developing mammary cancer, the findings suggest that the practice may increase the risk of more aggressive cancer. . . . more

From dung beetles to seals, these animals navigate by the stars

Humans have been navigating by the stars since ancient times, but a small, diverse group of species also use the night sky to get around. Some recognize the movement of star patterns, while others get their bearings via particularly bright individual stars. A few even plot their course via our galaxy, the Milky Way. From dung beetles to seals, steering by the stars is a critical skill, as it aids them in migrating, finding food, or searching out mates. Even a creature as small as a dung beetle, with a brain the size of a grain of rice, can gaze up at the starry night and decide where to go. . . . more