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24 news posts in Frontiers in Veterinary Science


06 Nov 2023

Who will profit when territories of Europe’s predators overlap? Here are five Frontiers articles you won’t want to miss

by Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, it’s impossible to cover all of them. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. Carnivore territories might soon overlap – and some species profit more than others Some of Europe’s large carnivore populations, including jackals and lynxes, are growing and expanding their territories. The golden jackal, a wolf-like generalist that once occupied only the Balkan area, is currently expanding its territory. At the same time, the Eurasian lynx, a specialized predator previously hunted close to extinction, is slowly recovering. Writing in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, researchers have now modeled jackal and lynx distribution in Europe for current and future scenarios. Currently, it is estimated that the overlap of jackal and lynx territories is 13%. This overlap is likely to increase, given both species’ expansion. The researchers’ findings showed that both predators expanding their territories, leading to a dynamic where they coexist for the first time, may favor one species and threaten the other: Their predictions show an increase in habitat suitability for the golden […]

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23 Oct 2023

Do people everywhere care less about their cats than their dogs?

by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image/ Previous studies have suggested that owners care more about dogs than cats — maybe because dogs are generally considered more affectionate and require more hands-on care. But these studies have used convenience samples and are only based in one country. Scientists surveyed representative samples from Denmark, Austria, and the UK, and found that people generally invest more emotionally and financially in their dogs than their cats, but that the difference is biggest in Denmark and smallest in the UK. This suggests that there is no universal preference for dogs based on their behavior. Do canines get more care? Some studies have suggested pet owners are less emotionally attached to and less willing to finance care for cats than dogs, possibly because of cats’ behavior: cats may be perceived as caring less about humans and needing less care in return. But these studies are often conducted on non-representative samples and don’t consider possible cultural differences in attitudes to pets. A team of scientists led by Dr Peter Sandøe of the University of Copenhagen decided to investigate further. “We and others have found that people are willing to spend much less on their cats […]

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29 Sep 2023

Mouthwash for dogs: water additive with pomegranate helps to keep canine teeth healthy

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Veterinarian researchers performed a blinded randomized controlled trial to show that a commercially available water additive with pomegranate extract is effective in limiting the reformation of plaque and tartar on the teeth of dogs after a professional dental cleaning. This could help to prevent periodontal disease in the long term. Periodontal disease is one of the most common canine diseases, affecting at least 80% of dogs aged three and over. Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis, where gums become red and inflamed, and may bleed. Untreated, the disease can progress to periodontitis, where the alveolar bone is progressively damaged so that teeth may loosen or fall out. In turn, periodontitis is a risk factor for other diseases like cardiovascular and lung disease. A major cause of periodontal disease is poor oral hygiene, which can lead to the build-up of plaque and tartar. For this reason, veterinarians counsel owners to brush their dogs’ teeth regularly. Unfortunately, compliance with this advice is low, because it’s onerous or because some dogs won’t cooperate. “Here we show that an additive to drinking water, based on pomegranate extract, can reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar in dogs,” said Dr […]


04 May 2023

Ill-fitting gear puts female firefighters at risk: Five Frontiers articles you won’t want to miss

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: CAL FIRE_Official/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, it’s impossible to cover all of them. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. Ill-fitting gear increases female firefighters’ risk on the job Over the past years, the number of female firefighters has been rising steadily. As of 2020, women make up 9% of firefighters in the US. Despite this, the gear they are wearing is still made for male bodies. Using 3D body scans of 189 female firefighters, US-based researchers have studied this gear to improve comfort, mobility, and safety for female firefighters. They published their results in Frontiers in Materials. The scientists found that female firefighters are wearing personal protective clothing (PPC) with significant fit issues. This reduces comfort, restricts mobility and increases safety risks on the job, they wrote. Between 15% and 21% of female firefighters were found to intentionally leave off a part of their PPC, mostly pants and coats, at least ‘sometimes,’ if not ‘nearly always’. The researchers also identified where the highest potential for design […]

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28 Apr 2023

Old dogs with dementia sleep less deeply, just like people with Alzheimer’s

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Scientists have shown that old dogs with canine dementia have sleep and brain wave patterns that mirror those found in people with Alzheimer’s. This is the first study to use polysomnography techniques from human sleep studies in old dogs In people with Alzheimer’s, the earliest symptoms are commonly disruptions in sleep rhythms. These include daytime sleepiness, showing agitation or confusion around dusk, staying awake longer, and waking up often at night. They are thought to result from damage to sleep-regulating areas in the brain. Alzheimer patients tend to spend less time in both REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, in which most dreaming occurs, and non-REM (NREM) sleep. But they show the greatest reduction in so-called slow-wave sleep (SWS) – a stage of non-dreaming deep sleep, characterized by slow ‘delta’ brain waves (0.1 to 3.5 Hz) – when day-time memories are consolidated. Now, scientists have shown that the same reduction in SWS and delta brain waves occurs in dogs with the canine equivalent of dementia, canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCDS). These dogs thus sleep less and less deeply. The results are published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science. “Our study is the first to evaluate the […]

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11 Aug 2022

Researchers challenge claim of historic human brain ‘shrinking’ and 3 other papers you don’t want to miss

By Colm Gorey and Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writers Image: At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, many often fly under the radar. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. Researchers challenge idea that human brains shrank 3,000 years ago Last year, an article published to Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution made headlines across the world after it claimed human brains shrank in size approximately 3,000 years ago. This, according to the authors, may have driven by the externalization of knowledge in human societies, thus needing less energy to store a lot of information as individuals. As a result, we developed smaller brains. However, in a recent article, also published to Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, another team of researchers challenged this notion, questioning several of the original paper’s key hypotheses. Speaking to his university, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, anthropologist Brian Vilmoare said that “human brain size has not changed in 30,000 years, and probably not in 300,000 years”. In fact, he added, “based on this dataset, we can identify no reduction in brain size in modern […]


24 Jun 2022

Dr Deborah Nadal: Why a rigid rabies elimination strategy can struggle to take hold in a world of local complexities

Dr Deborah Nadal. Image: Rebecca Rodrigues Dr Deborah Nadal is an affiliate researcher at the University of Glasgow, where she works on rabies-related projects, and a consultant for the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO). Her PhD research on the co-existence between people, free-roaming animals, and the rabies virus in urban India got turned into an award-winning book. Her two main research areas are health and animals (human and non-human), with a particular interest in how different species can contribute to each other’s physical, mental, and social wellbeing, especially in impoverished settings. Now, she tells us more about the need to understand local perceptions of rabies to tackle this deadly disease efficiently and sustainably. What inspired you to become a researcher? Becoming a researcher was not in my plans until rather recently. When, as a pre-school kid, I was asked what my job would be, I always replied “Licia Colò”. She is an Italian TV hostess famous for travel and animal shows. To the young me, she was the job. Then, as a school kid, the veterinary profession was my dream. In fact, my book is dedicated to this dream. But during my school years, my fascination with India started to grow as well and, despite the skepticism […]

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19 Nov 2021

Common household sounds are stressing out our pets, but little research has been put into giving them a happier life

By Dr Emma K Grigg, University of California, Davis Dr Emma K Grigg, University of California, Davis. Image: Sherri Rieck We may not realize it, but many household appliances are causing our pets significant stress, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science. Now, one of its authors, Dr Emma K Grigg of University of California, Davis, writes about another less-discussed issue: how little effort is being put into better understanding our pets. Grigg is a certified applied animal behaviorist and a staff research associate and lecturer at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also a lecturer in canine behavior at Bergin University of Canine Studies in northern California and has authored a number of scientific publications on canine, feline, and marine mammal behavior. Her first book, The Science Behind a Happy Dog, was published in June 2017. As an animal behavior researcher who specializes in dogs and cats, I have been trained to carefully observe and interpret their body language to better understand and predict their behavior, to study the ways in which they interact with their worlds, and to continually consider the impacts of human activities on their wellbeing. My […]


24 Jun 2021

A dog’s life: James A Serpell and his investigation into the origin story of mankind’s best friend

By Colm Gorey, Frontiers science writer/Prof James Serpell, University of Pennsylvania Prof James A Serpell, University of Pennsylvania. Image: University of Pennsylvania Two distinctly different stories have been created to explain how fearsome, wild wolves were first domesticated by humans, according to Prof James A Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wallis Annenberg PetShape Leadership Institute. However, in the open access journal Frontiers, he recently published a paper investigating the truth of these claims. Despite being considered mankind’s best friend, the ancestors of modern dogs were a lot less welcoming to human owners. However, trying to trace the timeline of when early humans first domesticated wild wolves to serve their needs has proven difficult. One of the most prevalent origin stories in scientific literature suggests the ‘commensal scavenger hypothesis’. This posited that wolves essentially domesticated themselves by invading ancient human settlements in search of animal remains and other edible waste discarded by hunter-gatherers. Over time, tolerance by humans gave a selective advantage to the bolder, less fearful wolves, which then diverged from the ancestral population as they adapted to the new scavenging niche. An alternative hypothesis – sometimes referred to as the pet keeping or cross-species adoption hypothesis […]

Life sciences

07 Apr 2021

Study demonstrates the need to monitor the bit area of event horses

University of Helsinki A new study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science found that event horses that wear thin or thick bits in events had a greater risk of moderate or severe oral lesions compared to horses wearing medium-sized bits, while straight bits were associated with lesions in the bars of the horse’s mouth. “Our recommendation is to use a jointed bit of moderate thickness, that is 14 to 17 millimetres, if the size of the mouth is not known, paying particular attention to the handling of mares and both warmblood and coldblood event horses. They were seen to have a greater risk of mouth lesions compared to geldings and ponies,” says doctoral student and veterinarian Kati Tuomola from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki. “Since most mouth lesions are not evidenced as bleeding outside the mouth, the bit area should be monitored, and event organisers should carry out systematic oral inspections,” Tuomola adds. Read original article Download original article (pdf) The research group has previously investigated oral lesions in trotters. The object of the current study was event horses, that is horses which compete in events composed of three phases: show jumping, dressage and a cross-country test. […]