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New testing scheme for ‘shaking puppy syndrome’
Affected dogs show severe terrors, mostly in the hind limbs.
Scientists identify mutation responsible for the disease 

Border terrier breeders are being encouraged to make use of a new test for ‘shaking puppy syndrome’.

Spongiform LeucoEncephaloMyelopathy (SLEM) is a hereditary disease that can affect puppies from the time they begin attempting to walk. Affected dogs show severe terrors, mostly in the hind limbs.

Scientists at the University of Missouri, the Animal Health Trust (AHT) and Wisdom Health, were able to identify the mutation responsible.

The Kennel Club has approved the official new testing scheme after consultation with the breed health co-ordinator. Secretary Caroline Kisko said the test will help breeders to eradicate the disease, also known as ‘shaking puppy syndrome’ in the breed.

“We would encourage all breeders of border terriers to make use of this new test,” she added.

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of canine genetics at the AHT, said: “My team were able to supply a number of DNA samples from affected cases in the UK, which helped to confirm that the mutation discovered in the US is the same mutation segregating in affected border terriers in the UK.

“It can be very difficult to identify the gene linked to an emerging neurological disease such as this, but the result is fantastic and we are very pleased to be able to quickly offer the DNA test at the AHT for the UK and European market.”

 

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Survey seeks to learn about racehorse aftercare

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 The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is launching a survey to improve understanding of aftercare for thoroughbreds. The survey has been emailed to trainers, who are asked to share their own experiences, with a focus on life after horses finish their racing careers. It forms part of an equine health and welfare strategy being developed by the BHA. 

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Charity welcomes new ambassadors

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has appointed the actor Anthony Head and renowned canine behaviourist, Sarah Fisher, as official ambassadors. They join existing ambassadors Paul O’Grady, Amanda Holden, David Gandy and Jacqueline Wilson.

Anthony is best known for his roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Iron Lady and Girlfriends. He has previously lent his voice to Battersea’s videos and appeals, as well as performing readings at the charity’s Christmas Carol Concert and Collars & Coats Gala Ball.

Meanwhile Sarah has worked across all three of the charity’s centres, offering advice in dealing with a variety of complex and challenging dogs. She has also fostered several Battersea animals and trained many members of staff in using the Tellington Touch method of training, to keep dogs calm and relaxed.