Improved Treatment for Dogs with Soft Tissue Cancer

Orvis Cover Dog Contest - HAROLD

Conventional chemotherapy drugs modestly improve cancer survival rates, but many cause notable side effects. Recently, a study founded by Morris Animal Foundation found Metronomic therapy, a new way of administering chemotherapy that involves frequent, low-level doses of chemotherapy rather than higher doses at longer intervals, may improve dogs’ treatment response and decrease side effects. Researchers studied whether metronomic dosing of the drug cyclophosphamide is safe and effective in treating dogs with soft-tissue sarcomas.


Orvis Cover Dog Contest - HAROLD

Conventional chemotherapy drugs modestly improve cancer survival rates, but many cause notable side effects. Recently, a study founded by Morris Animal Foundation found Metronomic therapy, a new way of administering chemotherapy that involves frequent, low-level doses of chemotherapy rather than higher doses at longer intervals, may improve dogs’ treatment response and decrease side effects. Researchers studied whether metronomic dosing of the drug cyclophosphamide is safe and effective in treating dogs with soft-tissue sarcomas.

Though they are still analyzing the final data, scientists have seen encouraging results, including a decrease in the blood supply to the tumor in the treated dogs and no tumor growth in eight of the 10 dogs treated during the four-week study period. Another important finding was that none of the dogs experienced significant side effects, such as the vomiting or low white blood cell counts frequently seen with conventional chemotherapy. The researchers are completing data analysis and preparing a manuscript for publication later in 2010. Results of this study indicate that metronomic chemotherapy could significantly decrease side effects and may increase survival rates of dogs with cancer. Good news for any dog experiencing soft tissue cancer!

Happier K9s on the Job

Belgian sheepdog
A Belgian Sheepdog

As a veterinary student, Nicole Giguere understands the human–animal bond. She can also appreciate the heightened bond that police dogs share with their handlers. Not long after her husband, a paramedic, called her one evening to ask her how to help an injured police dog, Nicole decided that there should be some kind of first-aid course for handlers with working dogs. Her next step was to study the most common causes of injury in police dogs.

“I deeply admire police dogs,” Giguere says. “I feel that these dogs and their partners are the true embodiment of the human–animal bond.”

As a veterinary student, Nicole Giguere understands the human–animal bond. She can also appreciate the heightened bond that police dogs share with their handlers. Not long after her husband, a paramedic, called her one evening to ask her how to help an injured police dog, Nicole decided that there should be some kind of first-aid course for handlers with working dogs. Her next step was to study the most common causes of injury in police dogs.

Belgian sheepdog

A Belgian Sheepdog

“I deeply admire police dogs,” Giguere says. “I feel that these dogs and their partners are the true embodiment of the human–animal bond.”

Through Morris Animal Foundation’s Veterinary Student Scholars (VSS) program, Giguere participated in six weeks of hands-on training during which she studied injuries and illnesses of police dogs brought to Western University of Health Sciences in California. Police dogs brought in for a clinical problem were, on average, older than dogs brought in for wellness care. The most common reasons for veterinary visits were musculoskeletal disorders, followed by gastrointestinal disease and preventive medicine. The information she gathered mirrored much of the research completed over the past decade on working dogs, especially after the events of September 11, 2001. Her findings were also similar to those found in another Foundation-funded study of guide dogs, which showed arthritis and cancer were the top health concerns.

Giguere is now working at a small-animal practice in southern California and finishing her master’s degree in public health through the University of Minnesota. The police-dog project she completed as a VSS will serve as her master’s project. She hopes to continue studying the welfare of police dogs and eventually to develop a course on canine emergency aid so that police dogs can focus on their jobs and not their injuries.

For more information on Morris Animal Foundation, visit www.morrisanimalfoundation.org


Facts About Police Dogs
• The cost for training of a police dog is about $14,500.

• Dogs don’t sweat, they pant; hence the risk that working dogs will develop heat stroke on duty.

• Many breeds are well suited for police work, including Labradors, beagles, Belgian malinois, bloodhounds, border collies and mixed breeds.

• As part of their training, dogs use an agility course and face obstacles that they may confront while on the job.

• Police dogs are not trained to be vicious at all times. Most dogs live as pets with their handlers and families and are wonderful, albeit, protective pets.

• Police use dogs to sniff out illegal drugs or contraband such as firearms and even illegal DVDs.

Helping to Cure Canine Bone Cancer

Greyhound

“One Handsome Greyhound”
The word osteosarcoma is all too familiar in greyhound circles, where pet parents mourn the loss of thousands of beloved dogs each year. But there is hope in the fight against this deadly disease: The ongoing innovative research that will lead to new treatments and, ultimately, a cure.

It has long been known that some breeds have a predisposition to develop certain cancers—such as osteosarcoma in greyhounds, golden retrievers and great danes.

One promising study tests rapamycin, a drug used with human cancer patients, in treating dogs with osteosarcoma. This bone cancer clinical trial is shepherded by the Comparative Oncology Program at the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Center for Cancer Research.

Greyhound

One Handsome Greyhound

The word osteosarcoma is all too familiar in greyhound circles, where pet parents mourn the loss of thousands of beloved dogs each year. But there is hope in the fight against this deadly disease: The ongoing innovative research that will lead to new treatments and, ultimately, a cure.

It has long been known that some breeds have a predisposition to develop certain cancers—such as osteosarcoma in greyhounds, golden retrievers and great danes.

One promising study tests rapamycin, a drug used with human cancer patients, in treating dogs with osteosarcoma. This bone cancer clinical trial is shepherded by the Comparative Oncology Program at the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Center for Cancer Research.

“Rapamycin is a generic drug, so it’s available already, and it could be relatively inexpensive,” says Dr. Chand Khanna, director of NCI’s Comparative Oncology Program and the lead researcher on the study. “If it works, it would be a simple way for pet owners to improve treatment of their dogs at lower cost.”

Dr. Khanna cautions that even if the trials are successful, it may take years before rapamycin becomes a standard therapy. Still, he has seen a lot of enthusiasm for this study and says it “proves that people with common and overlapping interests can do a lot more together than they could by themselves.”

Dr. Tim Fan, lead researcher on the University of Illinois team, who has conducted extensive work on managing pain in bone cancer patients, recently evaluated the use of a drug called pamidronate to decrease pain and increase quality of life for canine osteosarcoma patients. Many of his patients were greyhounds and Rottweilers.

His research—funded by the Foundation—shows that the drug interferes with the tumor’s ability to break down bone cells and may stop the bone destruction that occurs from bone cancer. Dr. Fan and his team also developed a novel approach for assessing pain, which uses computerized gait analysis to objectively measure the degree of lameness.

These discoveries are not only promising but, some say, long overdue.

“We want to find new treatments for osteosarcoma, and we can’t do that without pet owners who are willing to help us investigate this disease process,” says Dr. Fan.

 “With these clinical trials, we can investigate and provide cutting-edge therapy that patients may not get otherwise,” he adds. “Foundation-funded studies serve as a wonderful avenue for pet owners to pursue conventional therapies and for researchers to evaluate novel therapies at the same time.”

To learn more about the Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign, go to www.curecaninecancer.org

Bark, Don’t Bite. Dog Bite Prevention

Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes longer, healthier lives for animals through humane research, recently funded a study to determine how educated veterinarians and physicians are about dog-bite prevention techniques. Of the respondents, only 21 percent of veterinarians and 5 percent of physicians reported that they had acquired most of their knowledge about dog bites from medical or veterinary school. Most interesting, the study found that the vast majority of those surveyed would like to have had more information about dog-bite prevention during their schooling. “We hope the information from this study can be used to develop better curricula for medical and veterinary training programs,” said Patricia N. Olson, DVM, PhD, president/CEO of Morris Animal Foundation. “This curriculum could prove to be of benefit to both people and dogs alike, helping us to better live side by side.”

Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes longer, healthier lives for animals through humane research, recently funded a study to determine how educated veterinarians and physicians are about dog-bite prevention techniques. Of the respondents, only 21 percent of veterinarians and 5 percent of physicians reported that they had acquired most of their knowledge about dog bites from medical or veterinary school. Most interesting, the study found that the vast majority of those surveyed would like to have had more information about dog-bite prevention during their schooling.

“We hope the information from this study can be used to develop better curricula for medical and veterinary training programs,” said Patricia N. Olson, DVM, PhD, president/CEO of Morris Animal Foundation. “This curriculum could prove to be of benefit to both people and dogs alike, helping us to better live side by side.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has collected some eye-opening statistics on dog bites. Fifty percent of dog attacks involve children under 12 years old. The rate of dog bite–related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and the rate decreases for older children. Almost two-thirds of injuries among children 4 years and younger are to the head or neck region. Sixty-five percent of bites among children occur to the head and neck.
The CDC and other dog-bite prevention experts offer these simple precautions:

  • Instruct your children never to approach and interact with dogs they don’t know.
  • Avoid contact with a chained dog unless the owner indicates that it is safe to approach the animal. 
  • Never allow children to tease or pester any dog. 
  • Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for any form of animal abuse, and instruct children to treat all dogs in a humane and caring manner. 
  • Never leave small children alone with a dog. 
  • Take your dog to obedience and socialization classes to decrease the threat of biting. 
  • Recognize the warning signs of aggression and act accordingly.

Following these steps can help ensure that you have a fun, safe summer. For more information, contact your veterinarian or family physician/pediatrician. You can also visit us at www.MorrisAnimalFoundation.org or on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-date information.

Keep your dog happy and healthy

Playful dogs are happy, healthy dogs at any age. Fetching a ball, going for a walk, chasing a dream— being the dogs they were meant to be. Arthritis doesn’t have to be the end of living life to the fullest. Loving care makes all the difference. It begins with understanding and leads to solutions for a healthier, happier life. But joint issues are a very common problem affecting more than 12 million dogs, especially older and large dogs.

Playful dogs are happy, healthy dogs at any age. Fetching a ball, going for a walk, chasing a dream— being the dogs they were meant to be. Arthritis doesn’t have to be the end of living life to the fullest. Loving care makes all the difference. It begins with understanding and leads to solutions for a healthier, happier life.

But joint issues are a very common problem affecting more than 12 million dogs, especially older and large dogs. Morris Animal Foundation is part of a campaign to raise awareness about arthritis in dogs. Complete a short checklist to find out if your dog is at risk and $1 will be donated to MAF up to $5,000 and put MAF in the running for $25,000 to help.

 

Signs your dog may have arthritis. Does your dog…

  • hesitate to go up or down stairs?
  • tire easily during walks?
  • prefer to lie down instead of sit or stand?
  • seem stiff, like after resting?
  • whimper, growl or snap when touched?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to check with your vet to see if your dog is developing arthritis. It’s not uncommon for dogs to slow down a little with age— but only a little. Anything beyond that points to the immediate need for an orthopedic exam by your veterinarian. Don’t dismiss your dog’s symptoms as normal aging or you will be allowing your dog to suffer needlessly. Joint health pain and mobility problems can be effectively managed as a chronic disease. While joint health problems can’t be cured, you can help make your dog more comfortable using a variety of treatments. Dog owners have relied on medication to help control the problem, but research shows that nutrition, exercise, and physical rehabilitation can make a real difference for pets with joint pain.

Learn more about the campaign and complete the checklist. Find out more about The Morris Animal Foundation today.

Helping to Cure Canine Cancer

If you’ve had a dog, you know how hard it is when your dog suffers an illness, especially one like cancer. Peggy Mitchell knows too. That’s why she’s helping to end canine cancer, along with Morris Animal Foundation. It’s been more than a year since Peggy Mitchell’s dog, Emily, died of cancer. “I try to get through talking about Emily without crying,” Mitchell says, “but it’s hard.”

If you’ve had a dog, you know how hard it is when your dog suffers an illness, especially one like cancer. Peggy Mitchell knows too. That’s why she’s helping to end canine cancer, along with Morris Animal Foundation. It’s been more than a year since Peggy Mitchell’s dog, Emily, died of cancer. “I try to get through talking about Emily without crying,” Mitchell says, “but it’s hard.”

Mitchell says she was lucky that Emily lived two-and-a-half years after veterinarians realized that she had the same, highly invasive cancer, hemangiosarcoma, that Emily’s mother succumbed to within two weeks of diagnosis.

Unfortunately, thousands of dog owners across the country share similar experiences. Canine cancer is the number one killer of dogs over the age of two. About 50% of dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime, and one in four will die of the disease.

These days, Mitchell puts her sadness to good use. As one of the volunteers for the 2010 Morris Animal Foundation K9 Cancer Walk in Estes Park on August 21, she’s marshaling public support for canine cancer research. She’s also helping build a community for dog owners who share her fear and frustration. Dog owners can convene at the walk to talk about their canine best friends’ battle with the disease.

Volunteers like Mitchell will be helping with two other K9 Cancer Walks this year. There will be walks in Los Gatos, Calif., at Vasona Lake Park on Sunday, Oct. 10, and at Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek, Fla., on Sunday Dec. 5. Walk proceeds will go directly to the Foundation. Money raised will help fund research and train the next generation of researchers around the world.

Visit K9 Cancer Walk and Cure Canine Cancer for more information on the walks and the campaign, or visit The Morris Animal Foundation  for more information on canine cancer.

Well-Behaved Dogs Make the Best Pets

Dogs that jump incessantly and exhibit exuberant energy levels may face more than just reprimands from their owners. Drastic as it may sound, small behavioral issues that go unaddressed account for millions of pets left in shelters, say experts who urge early intervention and applaud Morris Animal Foundation’s research into the field. Recognizing behavior as the number one reason people relinquish pets each year, the Foundation is working with animal behavior expert Robert K. Anderson, DVM, MPH, diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB), and generous donors who are committed to finding answers to this dire situation.

Dogs that jump incessantly and exhibit exuberant energy levels may face more than just reprimands from their owners. Drastic as it may sound, small behavioral issues that go unaddressed account for millions of pets left in shelters, say experts who urge early intervention and applaud Morris Animal Foundation’s research into the field. Recognizing behavior as the number one reason people relinquish pets each year, the Foundation is working with animal behavior expert Robert K. Anderson, DVM, MPH, diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB), and generous donors who are committed to finding answers to this dire situation.

“We need to find the best manner in which to help our owners and pets and to promote the most scientifically correct and humane training and behavior modification techniques,” said Melissa Bain, DVM, MS, a diplomate and president of the ACVB. “We need to get the research out to veterinarians, who in turn educate their clients.”

While the field of veterinary behavior is relatively new, an increasing number of people recognize the need to create effective tools to treat behavior problems and ultimately save lives.

One of the few—if not the only—foundations in the U.S. that funds behavioral research, Morris Animal Foundation selects studies that directly affect the welfare of pets adopted from shelters and those within homes.

Current Foundation-funded studies, many conducted by veterinary student scholars (VSSs), span the gamut of behavior topics from revising intake forms at shelters to evaluating shelter enrichment programs and identifying adoptability factors.

“It is important to give the best dogs the best chance,” said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a VSS mentor for three researchers at Texas A&M University, where she teaches.

Educating pet owners about behavioral issues and addressing problems early can prevent relinquishment and enhance the human–animal bond, Dr. Beaver explained. Yet many pet owners are unaware of normal pet behaviors and do not raise concerns until problems reach unwieldy proportions.

The result is an overcrowded shelter system where too many pets are euthanized because of space and because of behavior-related issues that may not persist with new owners.

In fact, most behavioral problems that are identified and addressed early can be mitigated, Dr. Beaver explained. Research indicates that the quicker behavioral interventions are made, the more likely a positive bond will develop, and fewer dogs are likely to be relinquished. Find a behavior specialist at Morris Animal Foundation.