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Scientists Develop New Flu Vaccines for Dogs

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These are “live-attenuated” vaccines.

Scientists at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry have developed two new vaccines for canine influenza.

Today, veterinarians use vaccines that include inactivated or killed flu virus, but experts say they provide short-term, limited protection. Scientists at created two “live-attenuated” vaccines against H3N8 canine influenza virus, which is currently circulating in dogs in the U.S., according to a press release. Past research shows that live-attenuated vaccines, made from live flu virus that is dampened down so that it doesn’t cause the flu, provide better immune responses and longer periods of protection.

The researchers used a genetic engineering technique called reserve genetics to create a live vaccine that replicates in the nose, but not in the lungs. The nose is where the virus first enters a dog’s body, so generating an immune response there could stop the virus in its tracks. If the vaccine were to get into the lungs it could create unwanted inflammation in response to the live virus. The study, published in the Journal of Virology, found the live vaccine was safe and able to induce better immune protection against H3N8 canine influenza virus in mice and dog tracheal cells than a commercially available inactivated vaccine.

In a second study highlighted in the journal Virology, the team used reserve genetics to remove a protein called NS1 from H3N8 canine influenza virus. Previous studies have shown that deleting the NS1 viral protein significantly weakens flu viruses so that they elicit an immune response but don’t cause illness. This approach has been used with human, swine and equine flu viruses to generate potential vaccines and was also safe and more effective than a traditional inactivated H3N8 influenza vaccine in mice and dog tracheal cells.

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The team is planning to test both live-attenuated vaccine approaches in clinical trials with dogs. The hope is to come up with new options to stem the spread of flu in shelters and kennels, and to avoid the transmission of a dog flu virus to people.

The team is using this research to tackle other dog flu viruses, too. They’ve used the safety of these approaches to engineer a live-attenuated vaccine for the H3N2 canine influenza virus, which was introduced in the U.S. in 2015. Early results show that similar to the H3N8 vaccine, the H3N2 live-attenuated vaccine is able to protect against the H3N2 canine influenza virus and is more effective than the only currently available inactivated vaccine.

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Dogs May Be More Perceptive Than We Ever Realized, Study Finds

Even untrained strays can read human gestures.

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Dogs seem to be able to interpret human gestures even when they’ve had no training, a new study has found.

As any dog owner knows, pet canines understand commands and gestures with ease. A group of researchers set out to determine whether these capabilities are innate or require training, according to a report from Frontiers Science News.

The researchers looked specifically at pointing, with Dr. Anindita Bhadra of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, India, and colleagues studing stray dogs in several Indian cities.

“The researchers approached solitary stray dogs and placed two covered bowls on the ground near them,” Frontieers Science News reports. “A researcher then pointed to one of the two bowls, either momentarily or repeatedly, and recorded whether the dog approached the indicated bowl.”

About 80 percent of participating dogs successfully followed pointing gestures.

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“We thought it was quite amazing that the dogs could follow a gesture as abstract as momentary pointing,” Bhadra was quoted saying. “This means that they closely observe the human, whom they are meeting for the first time, and they use their understanding of humans to make a decision. This shows their intelligence and adaptability.”

The research was published in Frontiers in Psychology.

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State Considers Banning ‘No Pets’ Rental Listings

Some landlords are not happy about the proposed legislation.

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New Hampshire legislators are considering a ban on “no pets” notices in property listings.

Proposed legislation would forbid landlords and home sellers from barring pet owners, the Concord Monitor reports.

They could make rules related to pet deposits, noise control, sanitation and safety, according to the newspaper. But they could set make rules based on size, breed or appearance.

The legislation was proposed by state Rep. Ellen Read, a Democrat from Newmarket. It has drawn opposition from some landords who say it could lead to unsanitary conditions as well as allergy problems for some residents.

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But Julia Seeley, New Hampshire state director for the Humane Society, said her organization supports the bill.

We just strongly believe that a family should not be torn apart simply over housing,” she said.

Read more at the Concord Monitor

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Spotify Rolls Out Music Playlists for Pets

Pets seem to favor classical music and soft rock.

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Digital music service Spotify had a hunch that people were playing tunes for their pets.

A study by the company found that 71% of pet owners did exactly that. The survey included 5,000 music-streaming pet owners from the U.S., the UK, Australia, Spain and Italy.

The company explains:

That being said, we created a unique experience to help you craft the pawfect algorithmically generated playlist for you and your pet to enjoy together. Head to spotify.com/pets for a playlist you can share with your dog, cat, iguana, hamster, or bird.

See the graphic below for more details from the survey.

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