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Selective breeding could reduce syringomyelia
cavalier king charles spaniel
Researchers looked at the link between SM and head shape in certain breeds.

New research identifies risk factors for neck scratcher's disease

New research by the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences, shows selective breeding may be the way forward to reducing the incidence of syringomyelia (SM) - a painful condition that can lead to paralysis - in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel and other toy breeds.

SM - also known as "neck scratcher's disease", as one of the common signs is scratching in the air near the neck - sees fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord near the brain.

The study looked at the incidence of the condition in Cavalier King Charles spaniels and its link to head shape in certain dog breeds, and identified two significant risk factors - the extent of brachycephaly and the distribution of doming of the cranium.

The research found that brachycephaly is associated with a malformation of the skull, known as Chiari-like malformation (CM), and concluded that the results of the study, in combination with the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club scoring scheme, may allow for selection against risk aspects of conformation to enable a reduction in the incidence of CM and SM. The complete research paper has been published in BioMed Central's Canine Genetics and Epidemiology journal and can be viewed at
www.cgejournal.org/content/1/1/9/abstract.

Undergraduate student Thomas Mitchell, lead author of the study, said: "Dog breeders are very experienced at selecting for a certain conformation or appearance in dogs. 

"Our findings may allow breeders to select away from the condition over fewer generations by choosing appropriate matings and offspring to continue breeding programmes. The identification of an appearance that might protect against developing the disease is a significant step forward in tackling this painful condition.

"The study also provides guidance to breed clubs, breeders and judges that have a responsibility to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be harmful in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of the breed.  It will also provide vets with verified advice to provide to breeders outside the show ring and to occasional hobbyists."

Aimée Llewellyn, health information manager at the Kennel Club, who funded the study, said: “The findings of this research are very interesting and will likely prove invaluable for breeders who wish to make sensible and informed choices when it comes to breeding healthy puppies."

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Cats Protection launches Christmas animation

News Story 1
 Leading feline charity Cats Protection has launched a heartwarming Christmas animation to raise awareness of the important work it does. The animation is based on a true story of a kitten that went missing earlier this year. Freezing cold and hungry, the kitten was dumped in a box on a roadside and somehow became separated from her brother and sisters.


Thankfully there is a happy end to this tail, and Libby - now named Misty - was eventually reunited with her littermates. Misty’s owner, Amy Smith, said: “Misty has settled amazingly well into our home, she has found a best friend in my daughter Lily and likes to follow her around the house. She also loves to chase bugs in the garden. We feel very lucky to have her.” 

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WSAVA launches certificate programme focusing on companion animals in One Health

The first certificate programme focusing specifically on the role of companion animals in One Health has been launched by the One Health Committee (OHC) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

The online programme, which is free of charge for WSAVA members, has been developed in recognition of the growing impact of companion animals in human society. Pet ownership is becoming more popular globally, and this has increased the implications for One Health, regarding the human-companion animal bond. The WSAVA OHC hopes that this course will bridge the knowledge gap between veterinary surgeons and human physicians. New modules are being added weekly, with a total of 20 modules expected to be available by early 2020.