NEWStat Top 5 posts of 2021

As we kick off a new year, let’s take a look back at our top stories from 2021. 

#5 What causes grape toxicity in dogs? Playdough might have led to a breakthrough  

NEWStat spoke with Colette Wegenast, DVM, senior consulting veterinarian in clinical toxicology at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, who first made the connection between tartaric acid and grapes while managing the case of a dog who ate homemade playdough. Wegenast co-authored a letter published in the April issue of Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

#4 Stealth xylitol poisonings on the rise 

Products like deodorant, face gels, hair care products, and baby wipes made xylitol the second most dangerous for pet poisonings, according to Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, director of veterinary services at the Pet Poison Helpline. The number one culprit? “Calls about chocolate poisoning are still number one,” Brutlag said, “but xylitol has moved into that number-two spot.” 

#3 Man’s best friend might be a dog, but a dog’s best friend might be a woman 

In cross-cultural analysis, anthropologists at Washington State University (WSU) found that dogs’ relationships with women might have had a greater impact on the development of the dog-human bond than their relationships with men.  

#2 The pentobarbital shortage you might not have known about 

Unless you do a lot of euthanasias, you may not have known about a shortage of pentobarbital solution—the go-to drug for companion-animal euthanasia, said Kathleen Cooney, DVM, MS, CHPV, CCFP, founder and director of education at the Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy. In May 2021, Cooney told NEWStat no formal announcements were made in an effort to prevent possible hoarding: “We needed to make sure everybody had equal access to the drugs across vet med and shelter industries.” 

#1 New clues to diet-associated DCM in dogs 

A study published in August by researchers at Tufts University shed light on the connection between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and diet. And peas are still a possible culprit. In July 2018, the FDA warned about a potential link between DCM and the consumption of grain-free pet foods—or, more specifically, pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legumes, or potatoes as their main ingredients. The agency had been receiving reports of diet-associated DCM as early as 2014. 

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