Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Pets

Walking your dog is good for your health, and theirs

A new study shows that walking your dog is good for your health. Here is a YouTube video summarizing the findings of the study: Let’s not forget that walking your dog is also very good for your dog. According to PetMD, some benefits include weight control, keeping your dog limber, controlling destructive behaviors and hyperactivity, and of course building a bond between you and your pet. If you have a […]

Continue Reading →

Discovering markers of kidney disease at earlier stages in dogs

Proteins are not normally found in the urine of healthy individuals as the filtering units of the kidney prevent the loss of large proteins and smaller ones are typically reabsorbed. A team of researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and Ohio State University recently searched for biomarkers indicative of early stages of kidney disease in dogs. They discovered that the urine of dogs in stages 1 or […]

Continue Reading →

Blood biomarker of heart disease discovered in dogs

The mitral valve is located between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart where it serves an important role in preventing backflow of blood into the left atrium as the ventricle contracts. Mitral valve prolapse, a condition that occurs in humans, is characterized by regurgitation of blood into the left atrium, which receives blood from the lungs. Hence, this condition can lead to congestive heart failure as blood backs up in the […]

Continue Reading →

Having pets can reduce the risk of developing allergies and obesity

A recent study published in Microbiome from researchers at the University of Alberta shows that babies from families with pets had nearly two-fold increases in the amount of two specific microbes in their guts, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira. These particular microbes are associated with reduced risks of developing childhood allergies as well as obesity. According to study author Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, “There’s definitely a critical window of time when gut immunity and microbes […]

Continue Reading →

Obesity gene found in Labrador retrievers

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in Britain recently studied ‘willpower’ in pet Labrador retrievers. After allowing each dog to smell a hot dog, the researchers placed the hot dog in a hamster cage and sealed it shut with duct tape. While some dogs showed only mild interest in the sealed-up hot dog, others were fixated on the out-of-reach treat. One dog, named Ash, broke apart the contraption to obtain the treat. This […]

Continue Reading →

Zebra finches reward themselves for singing well

Dopamine is an important hormone released from neurons involved in reward pathways. Researchers at Cornell University wanted to know if dopamine signaling was involved in how birds learn songs. Their findings, recently published in Science, present evidence that neurons in the brain of zebra finches do in fact decrease dopamine signals when the birds hear an error in their song in comparison to when they sing ‘correctly’. The researchers also found […]

Continue Reading →

Cat-tongues inspire new technology?

If you have ever been licked by a cat, you have experienced just how scratchy their tongues are. If you have not had the pleasure, it is much like being licked by a piece of Velcro. In fact, Mechanical Engineer Alexis Noel (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta) recently described the tiny claw-like structures on a cat’s tongue after observing a cat getting its tongue stuck on a blanket. Her research team decided to create […]

Continue Reading →

Tortoise smarts

It must be Friday. I found myself perusing YouTube videos and I came across these showing pet tortoises that have figured out how to solve some interesting problems such as: Using the doggie door to enter a house… If that does not work, many have figured out how to just open the back door… Some have even figured out how to open the refrigerator… After watching these videos, I naturally went in […]

Continue Reading →

Male hamsters pack on the pounds while females stockpile food for winter

During hibernation common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) alternate their time between bouts of torpor during which their metabolic rate drops and body temperature is low and arousal during which body temperature is normal. Hibernation allows animals to conserve energy although it is not without costs as it often results in memory deficits, cell damage and reduced immune function. Thus some studies have suggested that animals with sufficient food stores will not undergo hibernation […]

Continue Reading →

‘GMAs’? Genetically modified animals

Researchers in China are exploring the use of gene-editing technologies to create customized animals. Take for example research at the Shaanxi Provincial Engineering and Technology Research Center for Shaanbei Cashmere Goats where animals have been genetically-modified to have longer hair (i.e. more wool) and more muscles (i.e. meat). This was accomplished using the relatively new technology CRISPR-Cas9 developed in the United States that allows researchers to cut out a piece of DNA from embryos. Chinese scientists […]

Continue Reading →