Tag Archives: Michigan State University

Who should Fido fear? Depends on relationship

As states around the country move to stiffen punishments for animal cruelty, Michigan State University researchers have found a correlation between the types of animal abuse committed and the perpetrator’s relationship to an animal and its owner.

For example, animal-neglect crimes (i.e. withholding food and water) tend to be perpetrated by the animal’s owner. On the other hand, with crimes that involve kicking or stabbing, the suspect is usually an owner’s family member or intimate partner, said Laura Reese, professor of urban and regional planning.

Laura Reese and Odie

Study leader Laura Reese and her dog, Odie Photo by Laura Reese

Reese and Cassie Richard, an MSU master’s of public policy student who now works for the Oregon Commission for the Blind, studied more than 300 animal cruelty police reports in Detroit between 2007 and 2015. They categorized abuse into eight types including dog fighting, shooting, poisoning, stabbing and neglect. The researchers coded the list of motivations for cruelty as listed by the perpetrators, who were then matched with the Detroit police crime feed to examine their other patterns of crime.

The researchers also found:

  • It’s usually owners – rather than anyone else – who engage their dogs in dog fighting as a form of abuse, often for the money. But owners are also less likely to commit more active forms of cruelty, possibly because of their role as guardians.
  • Most stabbings involve family members while poisonings are typically committed by neighbors.
  • Motivations differ. For intimate partners of pet owners, frustration with a relationship is often the cause of violence, whereas for neighbors, annoyance with an animal is often the impetus for cruelty.

“This isn’t just an animal problem – it’s a human problem,” Reese said. “For example, people who shoot other humans are more likely to shoot animals. At the same time, dog fighting is a public safety problem and dogs running loose biting people due to neglect is a public health problem. So, addressing human problems will help animal problems and vice versa, and we need to encourage public officials to think that way.”

However, most policymakers don’t, she said. Animal cruelty prevention needs to be a coordinated effort between law enforcement, public agencies and nonprofits. And because forms of animal cruelty vary, public policies and public health solutions should vary.

For example, dog fighting is related to gambling, drugs and weapon offenses. Thus, crackdowns on those issues would address that form of cruelty. Meanwhile, low-cost veterinary services and enforcement of existing ordinances, such as licensing requirements and leash laws, would target owner neglect.

“Simple education and informing people about proper nutrition, spaying and neutering could be done in schools,” Reese said. “Folks often want to do the right thing, but they may not have the resources. At the same time, cruelty is also tied up with domestic violence, which raises a separate and more complex set of concerns. That’s why we need our legislators and local officials to understand the complexities of animal cruelty and make solutions a priority.”

The study is published in the journal Anthrozoös.

The journal article can be read here:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08927936.2019.1550282)

Source:  Michigan State University media release

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Rare human disease found in dogs

Lung disease

A rare, severe form of pulmonary hypertension, which up until now, has only been classified as a human lung disease, has also been discovered in dogs according to a Michigan State University study. (Stock image) Credit: © Sylvie Bouchard / Fotolia

A rare, severe form of pulmonary hypertension, which up until now, has only been classified as a human lung disease, has also been discovered in dogs according to a Michigan State University study.

“Our research is the first to document the existence of pulmonary veno-occlusive disease, or PVOD, in dogs,” said Kurt Williams, the lead author of the study and an expert in respiratory pathology in MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “PVOD is considered one of the most severe forms of pulmonary hypertension.”

The study is published in the journal Veterinary Pathology.

The number of pulmonary hypertension, or PH, cases reported in the United States is low, affecting 15 to 50 people per million each year. PVOD is diagnosed in only about 10 percent of PH cases where no other cause of the disease has been determined. Unfortunately, there are very few effective treatment options for PVOD and a lung transplant often becomes the best choice.

“PVOD might be more common in dogs than in people, but this has yet to be determined and needs to be looked at further,” Williams said.

Pulmonary hypertension develops because of abnormal blood vessels in the lungs, which makes it harder for the heart to push blood through and provide oxygen to the rest of the body. In cases of PVOD, the small veins in the lungs become blocked, increasing pressure in these blood vessels, and ultimately causing heart failure.

“The same process happens in canines,” Williams said. “These dogs also come in with similar symptoms as humans, yet because subtle changes in health may not be recognized as quickly in dogs, death can occur quickly once the animal is seen by a veterinarian.”

Symptoms include cough, increased rate of breathing, respiratory distress, loss of appetite and chronic fatigue. Fatal progression of the disease in humans can last up to two years.

“PVOD is a poorly understood disease not just because it’s so rare, but also because there’ve been no other animals known to have the disease,” Williams said. “Our finding changes things.”

Williams said that the discovery could be important for human medicine because the canine disease may serve as a model for human PVOD.

“It’s cases like this that help to remind us how important veterinary medicine is to medicine in general,” he said. “Our colleagues in the human medical community are becoming much more aware of the many diseases shared by our respective patients and how together we can learn from each other.”

Source:  Michigan State University media release

Albino Dobermans

Michigan State University researchers have identified a genetic mutation in Doberman pinschers that causes albinism in the breed, a discovery that has eluded veterinarians and breeders worldwide up until now.

Michigan State University photo

Michigan State University photo

Paige Winkler, a doctoral student at the College of Veterinary Medicine, says that the researchers found a gene mutation that results in a missing protein responsible for the pigmentation of cells.

Albino Dobermans possess a pink nose, white or very light colored coats, and pale irises in the eyes.  These characteristics are similar to human albinos who have light skin, eye discoloration and often experience visual problems.

Like human albinos, the albino Dobermans are sensitive to light and have an increased risk of skin tumors.

Winkler says that this discovery will help Doberman breeders in the future where breeding lines carrying the defective gene can be identified.

Source:  Michigan State University media statement

The SmartPill: helping to understand canine bloat

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), or bloat, is one of the leading causes of death in dogs.  Second only to cancer in some breeds, it’s the number one killer of Great Danes. Despite its prevalence, the cause of bloat is unknown.

The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation has given a research grant to Laura Nelson, assistant professor at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine to change that.

Great Dane photoWhen a dog gets bloat, gas fills the dog’s stomach, the stomach twists completely around, the gas has no way to escape, and blood and air supply to the stomach are cut off. As the stomach swells, it presses against the abdominal wall and pushes against large blood vessels. Shock is usually the cause of death. The whole progression can happen in a matter of minutes or hours, and surgery is required to save the dog’s life.

It’s generally believed that genetics as well as environmental factors play a role in which dog develops bloat.  “We want to know why some dogs get bloat while others don’t,” says Nelson.

Nelson’s team is investigating the relationship of contractions responsible for the digestion of food (motility) with increased GDV risk, and hopes to define the biochemical and genetic alterations that may be associated with hypomotility—abnormally weak contractions. A new diagnostic tool, SmartPill®, makes possible noninvasive assessment of motility. The SmartPill® is an ingestible capsule with an instrument inside that measures acidity and pressure. The team will measure the time it takes the capsule to pass through the dog’s system and the pressure spikes along the way.

In the short term, the research findings may provide clinicians with data that would allow them to make informed decisions about when to use preventative medications or conduct targeted prophylactic surgery—gastropexy—in at-risk dogs. This procedure surgically attaches the stomach to the abdominal wall in order to prevent twisting. It is an effective procedure that is well tolerated, but, Nelson notes, it is an invasive procedure that may not be necessary in some dogs. There currently is not a good way to determine who to recommend it for.

“With bloat, it happens and you treat it. But it would be so much more satisfying if we really understood why some dogs get bloat, and then be able to make more informed treatment decisions and possibly prevent the disease altogether,” says Nelson.

Source:  Michigan State University media statement

Helping pet owners make tough choices

When your dog becomes seriously ill, it’s your job as the owner to make decisions about quality of life.  And it’s one of the toughest decisions we face during our lives.

Researchers at Michigan State University  are developing a new tool to help people assess their pet’s quality of life, a key factor in decisions about when to order life-prolonging procedures and when an animal’s suffering means it’s time to put them to sleep.

The research team, led by veterinarian Maria Iliopoulou, created a survey to help dog owners monitor the quality of life of 29 dogs undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.   The owners completed the questionnaire when they received their dog’s cancer diagnosis and answered questions about how their dog was behaving then and how they behaved six months prior to the diagnosis.

Similar questions were asked in questionnaires administered at three and six weeks into chemotherapy. Meanwhile, the veterinarians treating the dogs filled out shorter surveys based on their observations.   The research team wanted to see if owners and clinicians agreed.

The research found that there was a close match between owners and vets, particularly in questions involving play behaviour, the dog’s happiness as perceived by the owner and clinical signs of disease.  These areas of commonality create the basis for a tool that will help to facilitate client and vet communication.  If there’s agreement about what constitutes quality of life, then it is these criteria that owners and vets should use to help agree on next steps for the dog’s care.

For the study, dog owners completed a questionnaire at the time of diagnosis about how the animal was behaving then and how they typically behaved six months prior. Follow-up questionnaires filled out three and six weeks later documented changes in behavior as the dogs underwent chemo. Meanwhile, the veterinarians filled out shorter surveys based on their observations. – See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/helping-pet-owners-make-tough-choices/#sthash.aUqdUd6n.dpuf
Dr Iliopoulou and her dog Rocky (photo by G L Kohuth)

Dr Iliopoulou and her dog Rocky (photo by G L Kohuth)

The research team has published their results in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  All dogs were patients at the Michigan State University Animal Cancer Care Clinic.  The plan is to expand the work using a much larger sample size of patients and Iliopoulou hopes to develop questionnaires for dogs suffering from other diseases as well.

Source:  Michigan State University media statement

ichigan State University researchers are developing a new tool to help people assess their ailing pets’ quality of life, a key factor in decisions about when to order life-prolonging procedures and when an animal’s suffering means it’s time to let go. – See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/helping-pet-owners-make-tough-choices/#sthash.aUqdUd6n.dpuf
ichigan State University researchers are developing a new tool to help people assess their ailing pets’ quality of life, a key factor in decisions about when to order life-prolonging procedures and when an animal’s suffering means it’s time to let go. – See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/helping-pet-owners-make-tough-choices/#sthash.aUqdUd6n.dpuf