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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

January 2018

Full Issue (PDF)

January 2018- Full Issue PDFSubscribers Only

Features

Yes, But Which Kind of Animal Behaviorist?

Let’s say your dog is aggressive to the point that you fear he will truly hurt someone. Or he won’t stop jumping on people, or barking, or otherwise engaging in behavior that many find obnoxious. Or you simply would like to enjoy a relationship with him in which he is able to respond to your cues to come, fetch, wait, or whatever but haven’t had much success training him on your own. Where do you turn?   More...

How Much Exercise is Right?Subscribers Only

Exercise does more than help keep your dog’s weight where it should be, maintain his cardiovascular fitness, and forestall the frailty that often comes with creeping age by staving off much of the muscle loss that accompanies advancing years and weakens the body. Exercise also contributes to a dog’s good mood, just like it does for people, by releasing serotonin in the brain.   More...

Dogs Get Lou Gherig’s Disease, TooSubscribers Only

Something was wrong. Active Chesapeake Bay retriever Jameson had only just turned eight but was not picking up one of his back feet all the way. Instead, he was dragging his toe and turning his foot backward and under — onto his “knuckles” — when he stood still.   More...

Dogs Helping People and Vice Versa

The ALS (Lou Gherig’s disease) that strikes people and the degenerative myelopathy that strikes dogs are similar in that they both affect the spinal cord. But they start — and play out — differently. ALS is a disease of the neurons — the cells that make up the nervous system (including the brain). Degenerative myelopathy, on the other hand, is a disease of the axons — long, thread-like parts of the neurons via which impulses (messages) travel from one cell to another to elicit movement of the limbs and other body parts. If you were to look under a microscope, you’d see the disease in different spots in the two species.   More...

Medical Marijuana for Dogs?Subscribers Only

Although marijuana, or cannabis, is classified as a Schedule 1 substance by the federal government, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, as of last October, 29 states and the District of Columbia had laws legalizing it in some form. It has been studied for its therapeutic effects on chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome, epileptic seizures, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and a number of other ailments. As more people experience the apparent medical benefits of cannabis, many dog owners are left wondering if the drug might be useful in treating various diseases in veterinary medicine, too.   More...

Should the Spay Be Performed Traditionally or Laparoscopically?Subscribers Only

After careful consideration of the pros and cons of spaying, you’ve decided to have the procedure performed on your dog. Yes, some evidence has been coming to light that spaying could potentially increase the risk for certain cancers, including lymphoma, mast cell tumors, and bone cancer. But a lot of that evidence, while suggestive, remains preliminary at this point.   More...

New Screening Test Allows for Early Detection of an Often Deadly Cancer, Increasing the Chance to Extend More LivesSubscribers Only

Your dog has been urinating considerably more frequently than usual and also appears to be straining to “go.” You take her to the vet, who finds bacteria in her urine, very reasonably diagnoses a urinary tract infection, and prescribes a course of antibiotics to kill the unwanted pathogens. His solution seems to have worked. Her symptoms abate and all is well — for a few weeks.   More...

News & Views

What’s Good for the Dog Is Good for the Person — and Vice Versa

You’ve no doubt heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people throw a bucket of ice and cold water over their heads (or have it thrown over them) to increase donations for research into a cure for Lou Gherig’s disease, scientifically referred to as ALS. But did you know that when you make a contribution to ALS research, you’re helping dogs with that paralyzing disease, too? That’s right. Dogs as well as people lose mobility because of a degradation of certain tissue in their spinal cords, eventually succumbing to the illness. And scientific investigators who are looking for effective treatments are in effect helping both species. Their findings across the animal kingdom (including us) are called comparative medicine, and they facilitate the advancement of translational medicine — the quicker translation of basic science knowledge into clinical applications that can help living beings across the world of animals.   More...

Expert Advice

Dear Doctor: To Shave, or not to Shave?

  Q Our dog, B.B. Mantis, has a fungal problem. His vet said to cut his hair down to his skin to help keep the skin dry. We would like to know what you think because as a Great Pyrenees/old English sheepdog, he has a thick double coat. Cutting down to the skin would not be that simple. …   More...