Discovery of mutated gene could help to treat pet blindness
A Finnish-North American collaboration of scientists at Michigan State University and the University of Helsinki found a MERTK gene defect responsible for a recently identified form of progressive retinal atrophy in Swedish Vallhund dogs. This discovery opens the door to the development of therapies for diseases that cause blindness in both dogs and humans. “The work to characterize these diseases in two Nordic dog breeds drew from well-established international collaborations between clinicians, geneticists and dog breeders. This type of longstanding, multidisciplinary collaboration certainly strengthens a team’s response to the challenges of unravelling complex problems and creating innovative solutions,” explained Professor Hannes Lohi.
Prevent pet suffocation
Pet suffocation is a serious concern. Occurring mostly as a result of snack, cereal and other bags, it happens often – and quickly, too – to both cats and dogs. Follow these precautions and avoid pet suffocation:
- Empty snack, cereal and dry pet foods into resealable hard containers.
- Dispense your snacks into bowls instead of keeping them in their original bag, especially while eating on the couch, in the backyard or anywhere where your pet could have access to them.
- Cut or tear all chip and food storage bags before discarding. Two cuts are best – one across the bottom of the bag and one up the side. Dispose of all bags in sturdy trashcans that are covered, or behind a closet or cabinet door.
- Beware of high-risk events and times of the year. Take extra care around the holidays, big sports events, birthday parties, graduations, summer braai’s, and any other time when large groups of people are gathering at your home.
- Restrict your pet’s access to the kitchen. Don’t give your dog(s) unsupervised “run of the house” until you’re sure of their safety. Ideally confine them to one room/area of the house or their crate whenever you leave them alone. Click here to find out more about this.
“I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.”
– Jules Verne
Did You know?
Dogs sweat only from the bottom of their feet; the only way they can discharge heat is by panting.
Me & My Pets – Elma Smit
South African television presenter and radio DJ Elma Smit shares her undying love for her two cute cats. “I think the fact that our cats have such distinct personalities is what we enjoy most about having them around! Tigger, the eldest (a female tabby), is obsessed with my husband; she follows him around and she has long ‘talks’ with him when he gets home. She only sleeps on his side of our bed and she has unfortunately also been spoilt into thinking that if Richard eats biltong, that means she deserves a scrap of meat as well. She’s quite fierce, playful and active. Kermit, on the other hand, is my lazy, slightly fat grey boy-cat. He lets himself be dominated by her totally; she goes from ignoring him flat to washing him from head to toe – depending on the mood she’s in. He also rolls around onto his back like a dog as soon as almost anyone approaches him, in the anticipation of a tummy rub, which always results in very loud and appreciative purring.“When we go away – which is often due to the nature of our work – we really suffer from terrible pangs of guilt, and when we return, they make sure we know that their humans’ desertion wasn’t met with approval. But they are nearly self-sufficient (we have someone check in on them to make sure they have food and water) – much more so than dogs. Which is why we love our cats and wouldn’t think of getting a dog for at least the next few years! “When we are home, my best is to garden and watch them enjoy newly turned soil, climb the trees and chase little critters. In winter, especially, they become very loving, and there’s nothing as cosy as curling up in front of the fire with a blanket, a kitty on your lap and a good movie.”
Did you know?
The nose pad of each cat has ridges in a unique pattern, not unlike a person’s fingerprints.
Share affection with your pets
Love is one of the greatest gifts we can share with our pets. Pets are affectionate animals; touch means a lot to them, both in their natural world and when they live with us.
Here are a few tips:
- Give affection – but at the right time! Remember, any time you give affection, you reinforce the behavior preceding it. Reward stability. Share your love when your dog is in a calm/submissive state.
- Share affection after your pet has… exercised and eaten, changed an unwanted behavior into a behavior you asked for, responded to a rule or command, or entered a calm-submissive state.
- Don’t share affection when your pet is… fearful, anxious, possessive, dominant, aggressive, whining, begging, barking or breaking a household rule.
- Don’t forget exercise and discipline. Prove your love by giving your pet what he or she needs: long walks, rules and boundaries.
- Give your pets as much love as you have!
Click here to find out how okay it is to take them along to the office with you.