Friday, April 24, 2015

Family Dogs as Lab Rats?

Researchers at the University of Washington are conducting drug testing on family dogs.

The drug is rapamycin. It's an immunosuppressant used to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs.

It has been found to increase life span in mice, and now scientists are wondering whether it might do the same for human beings. But rapamycin is out of patent--which means that no astronomical profits are in sight for the company that develops a new drug from it.

Researchers Matt Kaeberlein and Daniel Promislow are hoping that by exploring new uses for out-of-patent drugs, and using family dogs as their subjects, they can bring relatively low-cost medicines to market that would benefit both people and dogs.
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Researcher Matt Kaeberlein. He says his dog will participate in the study when it's old enough.
So they're asking people to volunteer their dogs. They've had at least 1000 applications, and have selected 32 for a 9-month pilot study starting this spring. The pilot study will use only a few breeds and will focus on determining the appropriate dosage and detecting improvements in heart functioning. If it's successful, they will conduct a larger study using many dogs of different breeds,

The dogs in the study will be dogs in late middle age from breeds expected to live 8 or 9 years. They are hoping to extend the dogs' lives by one or two years, and to extend the lives of smaller breeds by as much as four years.
Researcher Daniel Promislow and his dog Frisbee
Their website offers a form for submitting your dog for consideration, as well as giving more information about their aims, and (of course) soliciting donations to support the study.

The ultimate aim is to develop one or more drugs that will increase human longevity.
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I can easily see why lots of people would want their aging dogs to participate.

Personally, I would want to be very careful before volunteering my own pet for any drug study. Rapamycin has some nasty side effects (as do most drugs). Although the researchers state that the dosage will be low, and the dogs' well being will be their primary concern, I'm still not sure I'd want Caitlin to be the guinea pig.

For more information:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Should Your Dog Be A Pothead?

It might depend...
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This much marijuana would definitely be bad for a dog this small.
Should your dog eat marijuana-laced brownies?

Definitely not! And if he does, you should rush him to the vet, especially if he ate a lot of them.

Effects of an overdose of THC

Both the THC in the marijuana and the chocolate and caffeine in the brownies are toxic to dogs, and there are at least a couple of cases in which dogs died after eating them.

Dogs like marijuana. They will often eat the leaves, stems, and buds. They don't get high on it, but they can get sick. For a single exposure, the effects usually wear off after a few hours or a few days with no lasting harm, according to most of the articles I read. Long-term exposure to  marijuana hasn't been studied in dogs, but at least one authority warned that marijuana has a cumulative effect that may very well be lethal to them.

The consensus is: Don't let your dog eat it.

Should your dog be given marijuana for medical reasons?

Quite possibly, yes.

Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Miles gained improved quality of life with marijuana
The evidence so far is entirely anecdotal, as no controlled studies have yet been done, although a growing number of vets are saying that they should be.
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Dr. Douglas Kramer, A California vet who advocates medical marijuana for dogs
Even in states where marijuana is legal, vets are not allowed to prescribe it. Most of the vets who favor medical marijuana for dogs don't want to be named. One of the few open advocates is Dr. Douglas Kramer, a vet in Los Angeles, who said he had sometimes been asked not to return to clinics where he had volunteered or relieved another vet. He said he had started giving pets marijuana because "I grew tired of euthanizing pets when I wasn't doing everything I could to make their lives better,"

Although you can't get a prescription for cannabis for your pet from a veterinarian,a number of products are freely available online. It's a booming business with lots of money to be made.

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Cannabis for dogs
One of the market leaders, Canna Pet, has been in business only a few months, but is already shipping its products to customers in the U.S and  23 other countries. They claim that their products are totally safe.

There are at least 85 active ingredients in marijuana, of which the best known are tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC  (the one that gets you high), and cannabidiol, or CBD (which is the ingredient of most interest for medicine.). CBD can reduce pain, anxiety, and inflammation, as well as suppressing seizures for many people (and dogs) who don't respond well to conventional treatment.

It is a promising area for medical research, but even without that, many people who have given it to their pets are already convinced.

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Marijuana Ingredients

The links below have loads more information.
Email this person with your experience if you've given your dog pot:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Getting Dogs to Take the Bait

An oral vaccine for rabies would save millions of dogs' lives and many thousands of human lives. The key is getting the dogs to take the bait.
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A commercially produced rabies vaccine
When I was attending Ohio State University in the early 1970's, I once brought a pomegranate back from California. Not a single person would even taste it. Not one! I was amazed. Pomegranates don't have a disgusting odor or a strange unappetizing color. But in those days, they were completely unknown in Ohio.

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The people who rejected them weren't ignorant rednecks who'd never been outside of their rural birthplace. They were all graduate students working on masters or PhD degrees, who must surely have had some experience of the world. But none of them was willing to risk so much as a single bite.

I had more or less the same experience during an undergraduate year I spent in France in 1965. The American students put together a Thanksgiving dinner for their French hosts. We made the mistake of including sweet corn on the menu. "That's pig food!" was the universal verdict. They didn't need to taste it to know that it wasn't fit for human consumption.

I have to admit that I'm no different from my  friends in Ohio and in France. My husband, who grew up in England, loves Marmite, but hates its Australian cousin, Vegemite.. I dislike both of them.  But I like peanut butter, which he won't touch.
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I can't even stand the smell of this stuff.
Dogs, apparently, are much the same as people. They don't like unfamiliar things.

If dogs are roaming free or cannot easily be restrained, oral vaccination will not work unless most dogs take the bait. 70% of them need to be immune to rabies before the whole community will be protected from it.

In the 2001 trial of oral rabies vaccine carried out in the Philippines 96% of the dogs who were offered bait accepted it without hesitation. The study states that "Baits were quickly taken up and most were rapidly and completely consumed by the dogs." The bait was made from local materials, all things those dogs were familiar with and would have eaten before.
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Dogs in the Philippines
In contrast, in a field trial in Tunisia, where a commercially manufactured bait was used, only 44% of the dogs would touch it.
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Some Tunisian Dogs
The locally produced vaccine used in the Philippines  had another advantage. It cost only a penny per dose, as opposed to $1.30 per unit for a commercial raccoon bait in the U.S  That's a stratospheric difference for a country without much money.

It also seems to me that a bait made locally would produce some local jobs, especially if the program were ongoing--which it would need to be to provide continuing immunity to a changing dog population.
cost of bait, p. 112: