Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Pets

Feline drug may lead to new Covid-19 treatment

Researchers at Anivive, a pet health drug discovery and commercialization company, are seeking approval to test a new drug for Covid-19 that was originally developed to treat feline intestinal coronavirus. Similar to Covid-19, feline coronavirus is very contagious. In some cats, the virus mutates and leads to feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is currently the top cause of death for young cats and kittens (~700,000 cats annually). The new drug, […]

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Yes, pets can contract coronavirus too

Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina have identified the first known case of coronavirus in a dog in the United States. Three human members of Winston’s family were known to have the virus and were participating in a study exploring treatments and vaccines. The research team discovered Winston had small amounts of the virus as they were collecting blood samples and nasal swabs weekly from members of his household […]

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Stressed out cat? Cat music may help

Do you have a stressed out cat? If so, try playing cat music, that’s right…music designed for cats. Researchers at Louisiana State University observed that music made specifically for felines can help them calm down during a visit to the vet. The special recordings (below) include cat vocalizations as well as sounds that are close to the vocal frequency of cats. The team found that cats who were exposed to […]

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Dogs may facilitate spread of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Alec Oliva, a graduate student at Midwestern University – Glendale campus, presented research examining the spread of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) at the 2019 Arizona Physiological Society conference this past weekend. With a mortality rate as much as 80% without treatment, the spread of this disease is quite concerning. Ticks are vectors for the Rickettsia rickettsii bacteria responsible for causing RMSF. Dogs are notoriously at risk for acquiring tick infestations […]

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Ultrasonic rats

Dr. Charles Schaefer, a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Tobias Riede at Midwestern University presented research at the conference examining how rats use deep breaths to produce ultrasonic vocalizations. Similarly, researchers have studied a variety of vocalizations in rats that signify positive as well as negative emotions and how their brains process this information. Did you know rats enjoy being tickled?

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Chronic stress impacts everyone around us

A new study examined how our stress impacts our best friend’s mental health.  The researchers studied Shetland sheepdogs, border collies and their owners and found that dogs living with people who had high levels of stress hormone (cortisol) in their hair follicles, similarly had high levels of cortisol in their fur. In contrast, canine anxiety does not appear to run off on people. That’s good news for those of us […]

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Obese Horses

Abigail Harms, an undergraduate student at Beloit College working with Dr. Kathryn Johnson, also presented her research today at the Experimental Biology 2019 conference examining the effects of obesity in horses. Just like humans and pets, horses are increasingly becoming obese. Her research is seeking ways to measure hormonal changes that occur with obesity in different breeds of horses.  

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Dogs can sniff out epileptic seizures

A new study published by researchers at the University of Rennes in France shows that epileptic seizures produce a distinct body odor profile that can be detected by dogs, opening up the possibility of training the animals to predict (and warn their owners about) these types of seizures. Sources: Video: YouTube Catala A, Grandgeorge M, Schaff J-L, Cousillas H, Hausberger M, Cattet J. Dogs demonstrate the existence of an epileptic […]

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Do octopuses (and other animals) dream?

Video captured by Rebecca Otey (via YouTube) at the Butterfly Pavilion in Colorado seems to suggest that perhaps octopuses dream in their sleep: Although it is not clear whether octopuses really are dreaming when they change colors in their sleep, researchers at the World Science Festival in 2011 discussed work studying changes in brain activity of animals during sleep compared to wakefulness to gauge whether they may be dreaming:

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Could zinc be involved in forming kidney stones?

Zinc is a micronutrient that is essential for normal protein production and for various enzymes to function properly in the body. Levels are important to regulate because too much can be toxic to the kidneys whereas too little can lead to problems with immune and metabolic function as well as infertility. In a new study published in American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology, researchers were interested in how zinc […]

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