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March 25, 2019 – For more than 70 years, Morris Animal Foundation has been a global leader in funding studies to advance animal health. With the help of generous donors like you, we are improving the health and well-being of dogs, cats, horses and wildlife worldwide.

Heart Drug’s Variability

Between 6 and 17 percent of cats with cardiac diseases develop potentially life-threatening blood clots. The anticlotting drug clopidogrel, also known as Plavix, is often prescribed to prevent clots from forming. However, veterinarians have been perplexed why some cats respond to treatment and others do not. Washington State University researchers recently shed light on this issue by identifying a genetic mutation that might explain this variable drug response, a step closer to help tailor medications for cats with heart disease. (Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, September 2018)

Surgical Cure for Rare Heart Disease

Arrhythmias caused by abnormal electrical conduction pathways in the heart, known as atrioventricular accessory pathways (AP), can be fatal if left untreated. MedVet Cincinnati researchers adapted a catheter-based procedure used in human medicine to successfully eliminate AP conduction long-term in about 95 percent of dogs treated. This procedure is essentially a cure for AP problems in most dogs, eliminating the need for continued, lifelong monitoring and drug therapy. (Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, September 2018)

Updated Genome Paves Way for More Discoveries

Thanks to recent work on the horse genome by researchers at the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and University of California, Santa Cruz, there are now an additional 300 genes to study that scientists couldn’t study before. This more complete map of the horse’s genetic code will help advance the discovery of genetic links and causes of diseases and other serious health problems in all breeds of horses. (Communications Biology, November 2018)

Lead Exposure Linked to Aggression

Urban mockingbirds eat a broad range of food items, from bugs to berries, making them an invaluable model to study environmental lead exposure in urban wildlife and pets. Tulane University researchers found a strong association between lead exposure and hyper-aggressive behavior in mockingbirds living in New Orleans neighborhoods with elevated soil lead. Ongoing research looks at how this behavior impacts health, reproduction and survival of these birds. Findings may have important implications for other wildlife species, pets and even people living in affected areas. (Science of the Total Environment, November 2018)