Vol. 17, No. 08 – Jan 10 – Jan 23, 2024 – The Pet Page

•The Parks & Recreation Activity Guide has Leash Manners for Dogs- Learn techniques and tools to help you and your canine reduce leash pulling and Puppy Basic Training- Owner’s learn how to teach their puppy basic commands. Register at www.cityofventura.ca.gov/register.

•If you think of a game of fetch, you might picture a dog running back and forth, eagerly retrieving a ball. But a new, first-of-its-kind study in the journal Scientific Reports shows that they’re not the only pets that like the game: Cats play fetch, too, just on their own unique terms.

Academics at the University of Sussex and Northumbria University in Great Britain surveyed almost 1,000 owners of 1,154 cats to find out if – and why – they fetch, which was defined as an animal retrieving an object that’s thrown.

“I’ll fetch when I feel like it.”

According to their findings, nearly 95% of the cat owners reported that their cats fetched items instinctively, in the absence of overt training. One survey respondent said their cat returned the toy completely unprovoked.

Fetching was mainly first noticed when cats were under 1 year old.

What’s more, “cats who fetch largely determine when they engage in fetching sessions and actively influence the play behavior of their owners,” according to the study. In other words, unsurprisingly to cat owners, they liked to be in control.

“So it can say a bit about cats being in control of their interactions and being in control of their environments, [or] being in control of us, you might even go so far to say,” says Jemma Forman, a doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex and co-author of the study.

But the motivation for cats to fetch objects seems to be different from that for dogs. Cats are more inclined to play on their own with objects that resemble prey. For dogs, play is more social, involving either another dog or human.

In general, play has major advantages for both the pet and the owner, as it not only helps to prevent aggression towards the owner, but also models the act of preying on real animals, an important kind of play behavior.

“So even if your cat doesn’t play fetch, obviously it’s a really good idea to try and engage them in any sort of play. Play does have a lot of benefits,” says Forman. It’s about owner receptiveness to your fur baby, she says.

Scientific Reports.

•Diets limiting ingredients, not allergens, improve dog GI issues
By Olivia Hall  College of Veterinary Medicine

Restricting the number of ingredients in the diet lessens signs of disease in dogs with persistent gastrointestinal diseases, a study by researchers in the Department of Clinical Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine has found.

Dogs with chronic enteropathy (CE), an umbrella term describing gastrointestinal diseases lasting for three weeks or longer, responded equally well to both the trial and control diets.

“Our findings question assumptions that have been made about the cause of food intolerance in dogs with CE, which was largely considered an adverse immune response to dietary antigens,” said Kenneth Simpson, professor of small animal medicine and co-author of the study, published Sept. 7 in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Many dogs with signs of CE – such as diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss – and without evidence of other diseases, often respond well to a change in food type. “But we really don’t know why they’re responding,” Simpson said.

To home in on what may cause the disease, Simpson and his colleagues designed the first randomized, controlled study on this topic, supported by funding from Farmina Pet Foods. Dogs with CE were randomly assigned one of three diets with similar calorie and macronutrient profiles: two “hypoallergenic” diets and one with fewer ingredients compared to most commercial pet foods. Neither pet owners nor investigators were aware of which diet each dog was receiving.

The hypoallergenic diets contained fish that had been hydrolyzed, a process that breaks up molecules that might otherwise cause an allergic reaction. “Hydrolyzed diets are thought to be beneficial in reducing immune hypersensitivities that are related to food,” Simpson said.

The third group was fed the diet with fewer ingredients, but contained nonhydrolyzed proteins and other ingredients thought to trigger an immune response,  such as those from corn, chicken and fish.
To the researchers’ surprise, all dogs did better on their new diets – regardless of whether they were in the trial or control groups. Of the 23 enrolled dogs, 19 responded positively to the food they were initially assigned, with reduced disease activity and improved stool consistency. The four nonresponsive dogs were crossed over to a different diet and also improved, staying on for the duration of the study.

Eight other dogs with a more severe form of CE (protein-losing enteropathy, or PLE) got the hydrolyzed diets. While PLE has usually been treated with drugs to suppress the immune response, seven of the dogs saw an increase in body weight and sustained remission of GI symptoms on the new diet; for two of them, diet alone caused clinical remission.

These results challenge the belief that CE is driven by adverse reactions to certain common dietary antigens to which dogs have been previously exposed, but it’s unclear what other ingredients, or combinations of ingredients, caused problems in the past.

The researchers are also puzzled by the fact that participants went into remission during this study after failing previous dietary trials. They suspect that owner compliance, not sticking to the prescribed diet or giving different food for snacks, may have played a role in the poor response. Other discrepancies between ingredients and labeling in commercial pet foods may have also contributed.

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