Politics apparently spills into pet preferences, with Republican-leaning states favoring dogs and many Democratic-leaning states being more feline-inclined. The AVMA's recently released U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook ranks dog, cat and overall pet ownership by state, and nine of the top 10 dog-owning states went for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, while nine of the 10 states with the fewest dogs opted for President Barack Obama and four of the top five states for cat ownership also voted blue.
West Texas A&M University scientists have used somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce two cloned cattle in an effort to create a new breed that has the most desirable traits seen across breeds and crosses. The work will improve the quality of human food, but it will also help keep cattle healthy. "It's not just about meat; this is about genetic disease, this is about infectious disease," said veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen.
In addition to pathogens such as Nipah virus, influenza and possibly Hendra virus, pigs can carry at least two types of Ebola virus -- Reston Ebola, which is not a serious pathogen in humans, and Zaire-Ebola virus, which causes up to 90% mortality in humans -- and can transmit the more deadly disease to monkeys. A new study found that pigs infected with Zaire-Ebola passed the virus to macaques who shared their living quarters but didn't have direct contact with them. Researchers will begin sampling pigs in parts of Africa affected by recent Ebola outbreaks.
While observing 12 captive bonobos for three months, Italian researchers recorded 1,100 yawns and noted that 300 of those were contagious yawns. Females exhibited more contagious yawns than males, reflecting females' central role in bonobo society, the researchers suggest. The findings support the idea that contagious yawns represent a type of empathy.
The holidays are upon us, and that means increased threats to the health of our pets, veterinarians warn. Among the most common problems are gastrointestinal upset from eating human food and intestinal foreign body obstruction from eating holiday items such as tinsel and ribbon, said veterinarian Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. Seasonal plants such as Christmas rose and holly are toxic for pets. Stressed pets may be prone to running away, so make sure they have identification on them and spend some quiet time with them during the holidays.