Genetic similarities of osteosarcoma between dogs and children

A bone cancer known as osteosarcoma is genetically similar in dogs and human children, according to the results of a study published today by Tufts University and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope. The findings could help break the logjam in the treatment of this deadly disease, which hasn’t seen a significant medical breakthrough in nearly three decades.

osteosarcoma

“While osteosarcoma (OS) is rare in children, it is all too common in many dog breeds, which makes it a prime candidate for the kind of comparative cancer biology studies that could enhance drug development for both children and our canine friends,” said Will Hendricks, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division, and one of the study’s senior authors.

Using multiple molecular-level testing platforms, TGen and Tufts researchers sequenced the genomes of 59 dogs, finding that canine OS shares many of the genomic features of human OS, including low mutation rates, structural complexity, altered cellular pathways, and unique genetic features of metastatic tumors that spread to other parts of the body.

Study results appear in the Nature journal, Communications Biology.

“These findings set the stage for understanding OS development in dogs and humans, and establish genomic contexts for future comparative analyses,” said Cheryl A. London, DVM, Ph.D., the Anne Engen and Dusty Professor in Comparative Oncology at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and the study’s other senior author.

The study also identified new features of canine OS, including recurrent and potentially cancer-causing mutations in two genes, SETD2 and DMD. The study suggests that these findings merit further exploration.

OS is an aggressive disease and the most commonly-diagnosed primary bone tumor in dogs and children. Though a relatively rare cancer in humans — with fewer than 1,000 cases each year — OS strikes more than 25,000 dogs annually.

Although surgery and chemotherapy can extend survival, about 30 percent of pediatric OS patients die from metastatic tumors within 5 years. The cancer moves much faster in dogs, with more than 90 percent succumbing to metastatic disease within 2 years.

“The genetic similarity between dogs and humans provides a unique opportunity and a comparative model that will enable the development of new therapies within a compressed timeline,” said Heather L. Gardner, DVM, a Ph.D. candidate in Tufts’ Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, and the study’s lead author.

Jeffrey Trent, Ph.D., FACMG, TGen President and Research Director, and a contributing author, said the comparative oncology approach is vital to the rapid development of new treatments for people and pets that need help today.

“Leveraging the similarities between the human and canine forms of OS adds greatly to our understanding of how this aggressive cancer develops and spreads. More importantly, it provides an opportunity to develop therapies that make a difference in the lives of children and pets,” said Dr. Trent, who has been a proponent of comparative oncology for more than a decade.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Broad Institute, Ohio State University, Colorado State University and University of Texas also contributed to this study: Canine osteosarcoma genome sequencing identifies recurrent mutations in DMD and the histone methyltransferase gene SETD2.

Funding for this research was provided by the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

No dogs were harmed during this research. Only tissue samples from pet dogs with naturally occurring cancers were examined.

Source:  TGen News

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Air mattresses in winter (avoid these, please)

Air mattress

Air mattresses are often used as a part of a dog’s exercise programme for core strengthening.  And I have found that some pet parents are buying them for their dogs as an outside resting place in all seasons.

Here’s the thing:  have you ever slept on an air mattress in winter?  (It’s winter here in NZ).  If you have, I hope you understand where I’m heading with this post…

Air mattresses in winter are COLD.  Downright COLD.  Most camping websites recommend that you cover your air mattress with a sleeping bag for winter camping and that’s because the air mattress is COLD, even if supportive.

The issue is that many dogs tend to fluff up their bedding.  Some dogs end up removing it all together.

So if you are using an air mattress for a dog in winter, even with a blanket, there are no guarantees that your dog has enough warmth during cold winter days.  If your dog is arthritic, or has hip dysplasia, partially torn cruciate ligament or other orthopedic conditions, then you are really setting them up to be cold and uncomfortable – undoing any other interventions that may be part of their wellness programme.

During my home consultations, we cover things like bedding and the importance of rest.  In many cases, I recommend allowing the dog to remain inside during the winter months.

If we like to be warm, why shouldn’t they?

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

Cooking for my dog

For many of us, cooking for those we love is a way of expressing our affection.  I have always enjoyed cooking for my dogs – using fresh ingredients and creating tasty treats.  In fact, before I even decided to train in canine massage and rehab, I was already making treats for dogs as a business (Canine Catering).

Five years ago, I started my Cooking for Dogs class to teach other owners how easy it is to make yummy additions for dog food using simple and fresh ingredients.

Over the last 3 months, here are some of the things I’ve made:

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

I am the owner of a responsible dog

Izzy, my greyhound, is a responsible dog and I, according to the Christchurch City Council, am a responsible dog owner.

Her yellow tag this year denotes that she is registered with the Christchurch City Council for the 2019/20 year.

In our district, a Responsible Dog owner is one that has met these criteria:

Izzy responsible dog

Izzy the greyhound

  • have been the registered owner of a dog and have resided in the Christchurch City Council district for at least 12 months
  • have paid dog registration fees on or before 30 June for the last two years
  • have all dogs micro-chipped in accordance with the Dog Control Act, including providing the microchip number to the Council
  • have a licence to keep multiple dogs on their property (if applicable)
  • inform the Council of any dog registration or residential address changes, including information on the death, sale, or transfer of any dogs, and including the birth of any pups.

The dog owner must have a property at which the dog resides that:

  • is suitably fenced and gated to contain the dog
  • allows dog-free access to a door of the dwelling for authorised callers.

The owner must have complied with the requirements of the Dog Control Act 1996 and the current Christchurch City Council Dog Control Bylaw, and must not, in the last two years, have:

  • had a dog that has been found at large, been uncontrolled, or been chased, returned or impounded by Council Animal Management staff
  • been issued with a warning notice or infringement notice for any dog-related offence
  • been prosecuted for any dog-related offence.

My Responsible Dog Owner status qualifies me for substantial discounts for dog registration.  Instead of $93.00 for the year, I paid $59.00.

While some properties can be configured for a dog-free access door, others may not.  But that’s about the only criteria that I think should be difficult for owners to achieve.  Having a dog is a luxury, not a right.  And bringing a dog into your life means that you are prepared to invest the time and money to keep them healthy, happy and well-behaved.

And in Izzy’s opinion, being a Responsible Dog is also easy:

  • walk on a lead with your owner or have excellent recall off-lead
  • greet other dogs respectfully, regardless of their size
  • don’t jump up for attention
  • have your owner clean up after you
  • move over when it is time to share the bed or sofa
  • promote adoption because there are many dogs out there needing homes
  • show unconditional love to the members of your family – they need it.

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

Survey Finds Over Half of Dog Owners Kiss Their Pooches More Than Their Partners

If I am totally honest, I like this kind of simple research at times!

– DoggyMom.com


kissing-dog

Photo: Getty

Pucker up, pup!

Riley’s Organics, an organic dog treat company, recently conducted a survey to see just how close pet parents are to their dogs.

The company asked dog owners across the U.S. how much TLC they give their canines, and found that dogs often get more love than humans.

According to Riley’s results, 52% of respondents admitted to kissing their dog more than their partner. This trend continued into the respondents’ sleep habits. Out of those surveyed, 52% said they prefer to sleep in bed with their dog over their partner.

These numbers, while likely surprising to some who don’t own pets, make more sense when you learn that 94% of pet parents surveyed by Riley’s said they consider their dog to be one of their best friends.

Significant others can’t compete with the overwhelming love of a true blue BFF.

Source:  People.com

Climbing the social ladder is ruff business says new research

Top dogs in a pack are known to assert their dominance, but scientists studied a group of free-roaming mongrels and found high levels of aggression in the middle of the dominance hierarchy.

Most theories predict more aggression higher up the ladder. However, the researchers say the difficulty of working out the pecking order in the crowded middle leads to aggression.

Wild_dogs

The study focussed on a group of wild dogs living on the outskirts of Rome (credit: Simona Cafazzo)

The research was carried out by the University of Exeter (UK) and by the Veterinary Service of the Local Health Unit Rome 3 (Italy).

“Our results reveal the unavoidable costs of climbing a dominance hierarchy,” said Dr Matthew Silk, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“In the middle of the hierarchy – where it’s harder to predict which animal should be dominant – we see lots of aggression.”

Professor Robbie McDonald said: “Fighting over food and mates uses energy and time and can lead to injuries, so hierarchies play an important role because animals know their place without needing to fight.”

The year-long study examined a pack of 27 mongrel dogs that roamed freely in the suburbs of Rome.

The dogs did not live with humans, although they relied on humans for food.

Their hierarchy was based on age and sex, with adults dominant over younger dogs and males dominant over females of the same age group.

“Although fights within a social group of free-roaming dogs are usually characterised by low-intensity aggression, the middle of the hierarchy is occupied by young males of similar size and age, among whom nothing is definitive and for whom the challenge is to gain rank,” said Dr Simona Cafazzo, of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

“Our results confirm that these dogs have an age-graded dominance hierarchy similar to that of wolves,” added Dr Eugenia Natoli, of the Veterinary Service of the Local Health Unit Rome 3.

Dominant behaviour included a stiff, upright body, holding the head and tail high and laying a paw on another dog’s back.

Submissive behaviour included avoiding eye contact, holding the head and ears low and lying down with the chest and stomach exposed.

The research was partly funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

The paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is entitled: “Elevated aggression is associated with uncertainty in a network of dog dominance interactions.”

Source:   University of Exeter

Doggy quote of the month for July

“Like humans, dogs should be eating a variety of nutritious foods, and not living on just one specific formula.”

– Dr Jean Dodds, DVM

Izzy the greyhound eats a varied diet