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Spotting risky head shape can improve breed health - study
Cavalier King Charles spaniels have become increasingly popular in recent years owing to their ‘exaggerated head’ with large forward-facing eyes.
Judges assess head shape of 13 Cavalier King Charles spaniels 

New research suggests that dog health could be improved if breed show judges were to use their ability to identify differences in the shape of a dog’s head.

In the study, breed show judges used a checklist devised by researchers to identify different head shapes in King Charles spaniels. The spaniels had previously been identified as risk factors for Chiari malformation and syringomyelia.

Cavalier King Charles spaniels have become increasingly popular in recent years owing to their ‘exaggerated head’ with large forward-facing eyes. This recent change in head shape is markedly different to the traditional breed standard and research shows that it increases the risk of developing Chiari malformation and syringomyelia.

The dog show judges were asked to decide if the head shape of 13 Cavalier King Charles spaniels was “moderate” (traditional) or “exaggerated” (modern). This assessment was then compared to measurements of the dogs’ heads and MRI scan results identifying the presence of syringomyelia.

The findings show that judges varied in their ability (20 per cent to 80 per cent) to match the head shape with syringomyelia status, suggesting that visual assessment was possible.

Study leader Clare Rusbridge from the University of Surrey's School of Veterinary Science said: “Breed show judges are the considered experts in assessing the shape of a dog’s head. In selecting the champions of the breed they have great influence in determining what shape of head other breeders and the pet buying public will desire.”
 
“If we are able to show what facial and head characteristics are risky for dogs’ health then we can inform breed show judges who in turn can improve the health of the breed. To this end, we plan to continue our work in conjunction with facial recognition and medical imaging experts at the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing at the University of Surrey.”

The study, Pilot study of head conformation changes over time in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel breed, is published in Vet Record

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”