Catch up on the latest pet and veterinary news from the last week. In this update: Researchers find biomarkers for heart disease, pet startups grow in popularity, dogs boost owners' physical activity, and a CIA operation to create cat spies.
Exposure to household pets from birth could reduce a child’s risk for allergies and obesity. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Alberta looked at infant gut microbiota to see whether pre- or postnatal pet exposure would have a significant effect.
Michigan State University researchers are determined to remove some of the doubt and second-guessing that many people experience when their pets' health declines considerably. Their quest has led to the development of a new survey to help pet owners more accurately observe changes in their dogs' quality of life while the pets are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
Embark Veterinary Inc., now based in Boston, has announced that it has raised $4.5 million in funding to expand its canine genetic testing suite for pet parents, breeders, and veterinarians.
Hypoallergenic Cats Scheduled for Retail in 2007, Deposits and Orders Already Taken
The fight against pet obesity is not as straightforward as finding a low-calorie or reduced calorie pet food. A new study from Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine found a wide variation in calorie density and recommended intake in so-called “low-calorie” dog and cat foods. The researchers studied nearly 100 commercially available diets with either weight management claims and specific feeding instructions, or foods with implied weight management claims that did not carry feeding instructions. They found that more than half of all foods in the study had a calorie density greater than the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) maximum calorie density for light diets.
If you’re a confirmed carnivore, how would you feel if your pet went vegan? A new study finds that one-quarter of pet owners who identify as vegans feed their dog or cat a vegan diet, while more than one-third of all dog and cat owners (which includes a lot more meat-eaters than vegans) are interested in plant-based diets for their pets.
What does it take to start a successful pet obesity clinic? The staff of the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals will be able to tell you soon enough, considering they just opened the nation’s first such clinic to be run by a full-time, board-certified veterinary nutritionist. The Massachusetts-based clinic, opened in August 2012, will confront the pet obesity epidemic with a targeted approach involving clinical research, education, and patient-specific weight loss programs. Dr. Deborah Linder, DVM, DACVN, admitted that because she and her staff are venturing into uncharted territory, they will have to maintain a flexible strategy while the clinic forges its identity. “I think we still don’t know what’s going to work best, so we need to have an adaptive plan,” Linder said. “We need to be flexible and ready to change if we find one plan works better than another, or if different strategies work better with owners than others.”
Veterinarians might want to advise elderly clients to exercise even greater caution while driving when they have their pets in the car. A University of Alabama at Birmingham study indicated elevated crash risks for drivers over the age of 70 who regularly have pet passengers in their cars.
A report that claims exotic and “nontraditional” pets are not suitable for homes with young children is merely “sensational” science, and what is really needed is better pet-owner education, say some exotic-pet veterinarians. Meanwhile, the state of Delaware is pursuing legislation that would require permits and strict standards for exotic pet owners. The report, in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, concludes that: “most nontraditional pets pose a risk to the health of young children, and their acquisition and ownership should be discouraged in households with young children.” National media outlets have reported on the study, but not everyone buys into it. “Most of that stuff is old, over-hashed fear and loathing,” said Jeffrey Jenkins, DVM, DAVBP (Avian). “I would call it a sensational scientific article.”