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Tucker’s Goes to the Dogs

In November, Tucker’s Super Creamed Ice Cream in Alameda introduced a new frozen yogurt flavor for dogs, Little T’s Peanut Barker.

It’s a new, handcrafted, banana-and-peanut butter frozen yogurt treat for pups, and the naming rights netted $10,000 for the local animal shelter, according to a recent news release. The naming proceeds and 50 cents from every sale of this doggie delight will be donated to the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter.

Little T’s Peanut Barker frozen yogurt contains Greek yogurt, bananas, and peanuts. Tucker’s has received a Products Resembling Milk Product License from the Department of Food and Agriculture to produce the dog treat, and the new flavor meets governmental regulations. 

“I saw a customer buy a scoop of vanilla ice cream for their dog who was going through radiation treatments. It was so sweet to see how much the dog enjoyed their treat, and their human enjoyed giving it to them. That is when we knew we wanted to make a treat specifically for are our four-legged friends that would be safe for them to eat,” said Erika Zimmerman, managing member of Tucker’s Ice Cream. 

Pick some up at Tucker’s, 1349 Park St., Alameda. Learn more at TuckersIceCream.com.

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Fire Assistance

Berkeley Humane worked with Marin Humane to care for animals impacted by the fall fire danger in Marin and Sonoma counties, according to a news release. Berkeley Humane dispatched its Mobile Adoption Center vehicle to help as many animals as possible while their families fled fires. Also to help with the fires, Wag Hotels offered temporary pet relief for those affected by the Kincade and Tick wildfires by setting up a call line for shelter requests.

Dog Years

Just when you thought you had your dog’s age all figured out in terms of human years, scientists come along and change it up.

Science Alert recently reported that the notion of multiplying your dog’s age by seven to get an equivalent human age is a bunk measurement. Now a team of researchers has developed a complex formula based on changes to DNA over time.

Described in a paper on bioRxiv ahead of peer review, the team led by geneticists Tina Wang and Trey Ideker of the University of California San Diego compared the epigenetic clock of humans to the epigenetic clock of dogs. Dog lifespans vary wildly based on size, but dog breeds exhibit a similar developmental, physiological, and pathological trajectory. They used Labrador retrievers and compared dog data to the published methylation profiles of humans. 

This matching of the epigenetic clocks allowed the team to derive an intricate formula for calculating the human age of dogs and the team believes the formula based on the epigenetic clock is considerably more useful than simply multiplying by seven.

Study on Aging

Scientists are looking for 10,000 pets for the largest study of aging in canines and human longevity, The Spokesman-Review reported recently.

The study will review vet records, DNA samples, gut microbes, and information on food and walks with 500 dogs testing a pill that might slow aging. 

“What we learn will potentially be good for dogs and has great potential to translate to human health,” said project co-director Daniel Promislow of the University of Washington School of Medicine.

For the five-year study, the dogs — of all ages and types, from purebreds to mutts — will live at home and follow usual routines. Owners will complete online surveys and take their dogs to the vet once annually, possibility more, while their pet’s welfare is monitored by bioethicist animal welfare advisers. To nominate a pet, owners can visit the Dog Aging Project’s website.

The National Institute on Aging is paying for the $23 million project because dogs and humans share the same environment, get the same diseases, and dogs’ shorter life spans allow quicker research results, said deputy director, Dr. Marie Bernard. The data collected will be available to all scientists.

Today’s pampered pups generally live longer and get more geriatric diseases than their farm-working ancestors, said veterinarian Dr. Kate Creevy of Texas A&M University, the project’s chief scientific officer, so researchers are optimistic some conclusions can be suggested by the study.

Ground Scratching Explained

There’s a reason why your dog kicks backward after pooping, SimpleMost.com reported.

Dogs apparently are very selective about where they potty, using the opportunity to mark their territory. By kicking backward with their back legs after pooping —referred to as “ground scratching” — dogs spread their scent around even more and also to create a visual way to claim the spot as theirs, experts say. Dogs also have glands in their feet that secrete pheromones so by kicking, they’re double-marking their territory.

Oh, and about that digging at his bed or on the sofa before lying down: It’s a nesting instinct from when canines lived in the wild. Dogs that turn themselves around in circles before lying down may be trying to position themselves in the best way possible to ward off any potential threats.

 

Those Pesky Skin Allergies  

Dogs that itch a lot tend to act up a lot, the journal Animal recently reported.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, reported finding that the severity of the itch in dogs with atopic dermatitis was linked to problematic behavior such as mounting, chewing, hyperactivity, eating feces, begging for and stealing food, excitability, attention seeking, and excessive grooming. Atopic dermatitis is a common allergic skin condition in dogs that causes chronic itching and decreases overall quality of life.

Behavioral data was gathered from dog owners for the Itchy Dog Project, an online study examining the possible genetic and environmental causes of canine atopic dermatitis. About 340 dogs with atopic dermatitis and 552 healthy dogs were recruited, and owners scored the itching severity. Dogs with atopic dermatitis and the most severe itching were associated with more frequent problem behavior.

“Our study clearly showed a relationship between the occurrences of problematic behavior in dogs and chronic itching. This can have a knock-on effect and impact the relationship between owner and dog, which means it’s important for owners to know that their dog’s behavioral problems could be due to the itching, rather than the dog themselves,” said study leader Dr. Naomi Harvey in a press release.

Millennials Love Dogs

Millennials are going all out for their dogs, Forbes reported recently.

In 2018, the American Pet Products Association found that millennials had displaced boomers as the leading owners of dogs, with 38 percent of all canines residing in millennial households. And according to PetFinder.com, its costs $395 to $2,455 in the first year to own a dog and $326 to nearly $2,000 annually thereafter. Those totals include food, treats, toys, and routine health costs such as vaccines, heartworm, and flea prevention but not the big vet bills, training, groomers, or dog walkers.

Millennials are affording their furry friends by adopting, not buying from breeders; researching and investing in pet insurance; shopping around for veterinary care and other services; setting up an emergency fund or other emergency funding such as CareCredit; and comparing prices for pet supplies.

 

Be Nice

Yelling at your dog can cause them long-term trauma, according to KNX 10.70 News Radio.

Researchers in Portugal studied 42 dogs from reward-based training schools and 50 dogs from aversion-based training schools, the station reported. Each canine was recorded during three training sessions and had saliva samples taken to assess stress levels before and after undergoing their instruction. The dogs’ behavior during each session was also analyzed to see if they exhibited any common stress markers such as yawning, lip-licking, paw-raising, and yelping.

The canines that were yelled out, shocked, or choked by leash pulling recorded higher levels of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, and had higher instances of stress-related behaviors than those trained using reward-based training. The dogs were again tested a month later with similar results.

“Our results show that companion dogs trained using aversive-based methods experienced poorer welfare as compared to companion dogs trained using reward-based methods, at both the short- and the long-term level,” the researchers wrote in biology news service bioRxiv.

“Specifically, dogs attending schools using aversive-based methods displayed more stress-related behaviors and body postures during training, higher elevations in cortisol levels after training, and were more ‘pessimistic’ in a cognitive bias task.”

In the end, training with patience and kindness proved healthier for the animals.

Matchy Matchy

Would you dress like your dog if you could?

Scott and Gina Davis, husband and wife co-founders of Dog Threads, are banking on the fact the many people will and pitched their idea on Shark Tank, CNBC reported, and won over billionaire Mark Cuban for their idea to creates matching shirts for humans and their dogs.

 “In 2014, we had a Pomeranian poodle, and he loved dressing up,” Davis said about the dog, Thomas. “But I couldn’t find clothing that matched his human-like personality anywhere. Every store I went in, it was cheap and tacky clothing. I thought, ‘I wouldn’t wear that, so why would we dress Thomas in it?’”

A portion of each sale Dog Threads makes is donated to nonprofit animal rescues, according to the Dog Threads website. The couple was seeking $250,000 for a 17 percent stake in their company.

Cuban said he would invest $250,000 for 30 percent of the business but agreed to a 25 percent stake on the couple’s counteroffer.

Main article photo by: Courtesy Tucker's Super Creamed Ice Cream