Category Archives: Dogs

The Remler Radio Scottie Dog

On a recent layover in San Francisco International Airport, there was an exhibition on the history of radio and one of the companies featured was Remler Company Ltd, of San Francisco.  The company traded from 1918 to 1988.

A Scottie Dog (Scottish Terrier) featured as a brand motif on many of their radio models.

Here’s a selection of those I found on the internet:

Any of these radios, if you can afford them, would make an ideal ‘retro’ addition to a dog lover’s home.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Dogs to benefit from test to spot liver disease

Vets have developed a blood test that quickly spots early signs of liver disease in dogs, a study suggests.

Experts say that the test – based on insights gained from human patients – could help vets identify damage and start treatment early, saving the lives of many dogs.

The test – which is to be launched worldwide – means that fewer dogs will have to undergo invasive liver biopsies, findings by the University of Edinburgh suggest.

Diagnosis challenge

Diagnosing canine liver disease is challenging and catching early signs of damage is key to its treatment, vets say.

Current diagnosis is based on biopsies, which are expensive and can lead to complications.

Joining forces

Vets based at the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies teamed up with medical doctors to look at blood levels of a molecule known as miR-122 in dogs. This molecule is found in high levels in people living with liver disease.

They worked with pets and their owners to test miR-122 levels in 250 dogs, including cocker-spaniels, labradoodles and Old English sheepdogs.

Testing kits

Dogs with liver disease were found to have significantly higher levels of a miR-122 compared with healthy dogs and dogs who had a different disease that did not affect the liver.

The team now plan to launch a testing kit to help vets worldwide quickly assess if their patient pooches have liver damage.

The study is published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Lead vet researcher, Professor Richard Mellanby, Head of Companion Animal Sciences at The Hospital for Small Animals at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We have found a specific, sensitive and non-invasive way to detect liver damage in dogs. We hope that our test will greatly improve outcomes by allowing vets to make rapid and accurate diagnosis.”

Dr James Dear, Reader at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cardiovascular Science and NHS doctor, who co-led the study, said: “‘I am delighted that the blood test we developed to improve the diagnosis of liver disease in humans can be used to help dogs too.”

Source:  University of Edinburgh

Flower essences – are they the same as Bach flowers?

Because I’m using an emotional nutrition range in my practice, which are mixtures of flower essences and homeopathics, I have been getting asked questions about them – which is great!

People refer to them as Bach flowers, and this isn’t entirely correct.

Dr Edward Bach worked in England in the years 1930 to 1935 on his flower remedies and when he died in 1936, his system of 38 remedies in total were fully documented.  These are the true Bach flower remedies.  The most notable combination is Rescue Remedy which is widely used today in both humans and animals.

He began collecting plants and flowers – the most highly-developed part of a plant – in the hope of replacing nosodes with a series of gentler remedies.  In his research, he matched a flower essence to a particular emotional state.  Here are a few examples:

  • Gentian – for discouragement after a setback
  • Mimulus – fear of known things
  • Vine – dominance and inflexibility

The Bach flower remedies should feature the Bach signature label  (made in England) which looks like this:

Bach flower logo

The remedies are made by infusing the flowers in spring water, either by the sun-steeped method or by boiling. The remedies contain a grape-based brandy as a preservative and there are alcohol free versions which are preserved in glycerin made from sunflowers

Following on from Dr Bach’s work on flower essences, there are other flower essences that have been developed from flowers growing in other parts of the world.  For example, there’s a whole range of essences extracted from Australian bush flowers.

So when people ask me about using flower essences, I remind them that there’s a difference between essential oils and flower essences and I also explain that not all flower essences are Bach flowers.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced DogChristchurch, New Zealand

Scientists uncover new details in how sense of smell develops

Dogs, known for their extraordinarily keen senses of smell, can be trained to use their sensitive sniffers to find drugs, bombs, bed bugs, missing hikers and even cancer. Among dogs and other animals that rely on smell, at least one factor that may give them an advantage is a sheet of tissue in the nasal cavity.

In humans, this tissue — called the olfactory epithelium — is a single flat sheet lining the roof of the nasal cavity. In dogs, however, the olfactory epithelium forms a complex maze, folding and curling over a number of bony protrusions, called turbinates, that form in the nasal cavity. The olfactory epithelium contains specialized neurons that bind to odor molecules and send signals to the brain that are interpreted as smell. Dogs have hundreds of millions more of these neurons than people do. It is assumed this added structural complexity is responsible for dogs’ superior ability to smell. But, surprisingly, that has never been shown scientifically.

Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have uncovered new details in how the olfactory epithelium develops. The new knowledge could help scientists prove that turbinates and the resulting larger surface area of the olfactory epithelium are one definitive reason dogs smell so well.

MouseOlfactoryEpithelium-700x467

The olfactory epithelium — a mouse’s is pictured in green — is a sheet of tissue that develops in the nasal cavity. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have uncovered new details on how the olfactory epithelium develops and why it is that some animals have such great senses of smell, compared with others that lack such ability.

“We think the surface area of the sheet matters in how well animals smell and in the types of smells they can detect,” said David M. Ornitz, MD, PhD, the Alumni Endowed Professor of Developmental Biology. “One reason we think this stems from differences in the complexity of these turbinates. Animals that we think of as having a great sense of smell have really complex turbinate systems.”

The study, published Aug. 9 in the journal Developmental Cell, also could help answer a longstanding evolutionary question: How did animals’ senses of smell become so enormously variable? The way these abilities came to diverge over evolutionary history remains a mystery. Understanding these signals could help scientists tease out how dogs evolved an extraordinary olfactory system and humans wound up with a comparatively stunted one.

First author Lu M. Yang, a graduate student in Ornitz’s lab, found that a newly discovered stem cell the researchers dubbed FEP cells control the size of the surface area of the olfactory epithelium. These stem cells also send a specific signaling molecule to the underlying turbinates, telling them to grow. The evidence suggests that this signaling crosstalk between the epithelium and the turbinates regulates the scale of the olfactory system that ends up developing, sometimes resulting in olfactory epithelia with larger surface areas, such as in dogs.

When the stem cells can’t signal properly, turbinate growth and olfactory epithelium surface area experience an arrested development. To study this in the lab, mice with such olfactory stunting could, in theory, be compared with typical mice to learn more about how these signals govern the final complexity of an animal’s olfactory system.

“Before our study, we didn’t know how the epithelium expands from a tiny patch of cells to a large sheet that develops in conjunction with complex turbinates,” Yang said. “We can use this to help understand why dogs, for example, have such a good sense of smell. They have extremely complex turbinate structures, and now we know some of the details about how those structures develop.”

Source:  Washington School of Medicine in St Louis

Roles of emotional support animals examined

Airlines are not the only organizations grappling with the complexities surrounding emotional support animals. Colleges and courts are also questioning the need for these animals and the effects they may have on students and juries, respectively, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

The recent, rapid rise of emotional support animals has left colleges and universities struggling to understand the laws and how they can be applied to best support their communities, said Phyllis Erdman, PhD, professor at Washington State University, who chaired a symposium on emotional support animals and service dogs.

Emotional support animal photo by esadoctors

Emotional support animal on campus (photo by esadoctors.com)

College and university counseling centers are seeing an uptick in the number of students seeking mental health services, as students report anxiety, depression and stress about relationships and academic performance, she said.

“It’s not surprising that many schools are confronted with the growing phenomenon of emotional support animals. For many, the topic is a contentious one centered on whether students are taking advantage of the laws,” said Erdman. “This is further compounded by the fact that laws pertaining to emotional support animals are different from those governing disability service animals and therefore schools may need to develop new policies.”

A service animal falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act and is usually a dog that is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a physical, sensory, psychiatric or intellectual disability, Emotional support animals are not trained in specific tasks and are not recognized under the ADA. Although emotional support animals are allowed in campus housing, they may not necessarily be allowed in classrooms or elsewhere on campus, according to the study Erdman presented.

Erdman and her colleagues wanted to understand the state of emotional support animal requests on campuses and how colleges and universities are responding. They surveyed 248 university counseling centers about student requests for letters to allow them to have emotional support animals. The survey questions included how often the counseling centers received requests from students, how the schools handled those requests and how they handled requests to diagnose a disability in order to obtain an emotional support animal. It also asked counseling centers if they had emotional support animal policies in place.

Fifty-seven percent of the centers reported almost never receiving such requests. Thirty-one percent did several times a year and only 2 percent got requests more than once a week, according to the study.

Despite the lack of an overwhelming demand, a majority of university counseling centers reported concern about having policies in place to handle such requests, according to Erdman.

“Even a limited number of requests for emotional support animals can cause stress for student affairs offices, housing offices, counseling centers and disability offices,” she said. “Most schools wanted guidance and support for developing guidelines and navigating requests that come through.”

Erdman suggested that schools establish general definitions of the terms disability, service animal and emotional support animal when crafting a policy. The definition of a disability should adhere to ADA guidelines, she said. Any policy development must follow federal and state laws and should include the perspectives of various campus constituencies, including counseling centers, accessibility services, general counsel’s offices, campus safety departments and students themselves, according to Erdman.

“College students today are facing a great deal of stress and emotional support animals may help some students,” said Erdman. “We hope our study can serve as a guide for colleges and universities to develop policies that help students thrive.”

Uncertainty about emotional support animals is also occurring in courts, according to Dawn McQuiston, PhD, of Wofford College, who presented her research at the symposium. While objects such as dolls or teddy bears have been used for decades to calm vulnerable witnesses, courts began to include dogs in the mid-1990s to provide emotional support to alleged victims of child abuse. At least 144 courthouse facility dogs are now included in about three dozen states, she said. These dogs are provided by the court at the request of prosecutors to assist victims with the anxiety of testifying and reliving traumatic events.

Supporters say the dogs have made a huge difference in helping children and vulnerable adult witnesses open up on the stand, but some defense attorneys say having a friendly, sweet-looking canine in the witness box can prejudice a jury against a defendant by making the witness appear more believable and sympathetic, according to McQuiston.

“The concern is that the presence of a courthouse dog emphasizes that the witness is a victim, thereby playing to jurors’ sympathies. As a result, witnesses may be viewed as even more vulnerable or likeable, thus conflicting with a defendant’s right to a fair trial,” said McQuiston.

She cited two notable appeals cases involving courtroom dogs. In both cases, the victims had a support dog during testimony, the defendants were convicted and the convictions were subsequently appealed on the grounds that the presence of the dog led to undue sympathy for the victim and violated the defendant’s right to a fair trial. In both cases, the courts found no sign of prejudice due to the dogs’ presence.

McQuiston and her colleagues investigated whether courthouse dogs, compared to inanimate comfort items, resulted in more prejudice against defendants involved in two hypothetical crimes: A child sexual abuse case and a robbery of a child. They set up mock trials in which participants, in the role of jurors, read transcripts of the testimony and were shown several pictures depicting the child witness with a dog, with a teddy bear or with nothing.

They found that the presence of the dog had no significant effect on the juries’ outcomes, which McQuiston called surprising because the researchers had expected the dog to prejudice the jury against the defendant. Interestingly, their findings showed some biasing effects when the child clutched a teddy bear.

“Across two studies utilizing mock jury paradigms we found that, contrary to popular beliefs and our own predictions, courthouse dogs did not exert undue influence on juror decision-making regardless of the severity of the crimes tested, and did not differentially impact perceptions of child witnesses,” she said.

Source:  American Psychological Association

Muscle loss and wasting

I encounter dogs in my practice who are experiencing muscle loss and wasting fairly often.

Since owners must submit veterinary records to me for review as part of my intake process as well as update me on any subsequent vet visits, if there’s a diagnosis of chronic illness – such as kidney disease or cancer – then this muscle loss  is understandable and classified as cachexia.

In the absence of a diagnosis of disease, and working with an aging dog, then the muscle loss is classified as sarcopenia.

Muscle loss results in a change of appearance, which owners often notice first around the shoulder blades, top of the head, and around the pelvis.  Muscle wastage can be graded as noted below:

Muscle condition score

Exercise and good nutrition can be interventions with muscle loss.  Chronically ill dogs need a high quality diet that is appropriate for their disease, for example.  And aging dogs do need exercise that is targeted to their needs and abilities.

Owners should always be on the watch for signs of muscle loss – so early interventions that are medical and non-medical can be considered.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Labels

I’ve been thinking about labels a lot this week.

You already know my feelings about breed specific legislation (BSL) and the labeling of dogs as ‘dangerous’ simply because of their breed.  (In short, the labeling is unfair and unjustified – backed up by actual data.)

We also use labels for people and that is what has happened here recently with a greyhound group on Facebook.  From what I can tell, earlier this week one of the moderators of the group didn’t like a person sharing their views against greyhound racing – the moderator is involved in the greyhound racing industry.  So the moderator disconnected the person from the group.

This upset others in the group who expected the site to be an open forum for lovers of greyhounds.  (We need a lesson in Facebook groups, I think.  There are groups all over Facebook and posts get deleted and people disconnected from groups by moderators regularly.  There is no such thing as democracy in Facebook groups!)

And so a new group on Facebook has been formed and we have been encouraged to join that group to post about our greyhounds.

So if you are labeled ‘anti-racing’ by the first site, it seems another will gladly accept you.

We humans label all the time.   If you read the headline news over the last few years, what does the term ‘immigrant’ mean to you, for example?

So going back to the issue of dogs – which are both my passion and also my profession – what label applies to me?

Pro-Dog

Yup, if someone is mistreating a dog, hurting them, not taking responsibility for their care, treating them as disposable, using them for fighting…

…then please label me Pro-Dog.  I will be disagreeing with you.  And I will use this blog and my own company Facebook page for speaking about it.

Izzy the greyhound

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand