Spreading the vaccination message on World Veterinary Day

It’s 27 April, and today is World Veterinary Day. Celebrated since 2000 on the last Saturday in April, each year features a specific theme of particular interest to the veterinary community. This year, World Veterinary Day will seek to raise awareness of vaccination as a means to prevent disease.

World Veterinary Day is a great opportunity to get your beloved pet vaccinated. (© All Rights Reserved)
World Veterinary Day is a great opportunity to get your beloved pet vaccinated.
(© All Rights Reserved)

“Vaccines are very valuable tools to stop the spread of a large number of transmissible diseases that threaten the health and welfare of animals and people,” explains the World Veterinary Association. “Vaccination of animals helps people to protect their livestock and their companion animals, as well as themselves in case of zoonotic diseases. Through well organised campaigns, vaccination contributes to the eradication of diseases from certain areas and even from the world.”

Vaccination is equally important in clinical veterinary practices and large animal practices. With companion animals, for example, vaccination is important to prevent and even eradicate diseases, in some cases also providing protection to the owners who are in regular, close contact with the animals. In the case of commercial farm animals, outbreaks of diseases can have a huge impact on farm productivity, and here vaccination is again a key preventative measure.

World Veterinary Day provides a great opportunity for veterinarians to promote their message and educate the community. As stated on the website of the New Zealand Veterinary Association, “World Veterinary Day is an ideal opportunity for us all to show our communities the value and protection vaccinations provide against the spread of disease.”

So whether you are a livestock farmer or pet owner, why not use this day to contact your vet and find out more about the benefits of vaccination. Who knows, some practices may even run special clinics or promotions, providing you with a cost-effective opportunity to have your animals vaccinated.

Take Your Dog To Work Day – what’s your pooch thinking?

Today, believe it or not, is Take Your Dog To Work Day. This day was initiated by Pet Sitters International, and has been celebrated since 1999.

The rationale behind the day is the celebration of the human-canine bond, and the promotion of pet adoption by making life – including the workplace – more accepting to pets, in particular dogs. Employers are encouraged to open their workplace to employees’ pets on this special day.

The lovable bulldog – breed of choice for Adam Sandler and Winston Churchill, among others.
(© All Rights Reserved)

Seems a good enough idea, doesn’t it? I think the following bit of research has the potential to further promote and enhance the human-canine bond:

According to a recent article in Scientific American, scientists have (pun alert!) embarked on a study of dogs’ thoughts, by means of fMRI brain scans of unsedated dogs. The research team says this provides a first peak into the thought processes of dogs.

Of course the key problem in scanning the brain of an fully awake, unrestrained dog, is that the animal is unlikely to remain still for the duration of the scan. However, after seeing the level of training achieved with dogs in the US Navy, lead researcher Gregory Berns from the Emory University Center for Neuropolicy, felt they should be able to train a dog to behave inside the fMRI.

Two dogs – a 2-year old feist and a 3-year old border collie – were trained to walk into the scanner and remain still while being scanned. In addition, they were trained to respond to certain hand signals – one indicating the dog was about to receive a treat, and the other that it wasn’t.

Recognition of the “treat” signal caused activity in the caudate region of the dogs’ brains – a region also associated with reward in the human brain.

While this can perhaps be viewed as a rather simplistic result, it is early-stage canine  neuro-research, and it does open the door for further studies into canine cognition, for example how they respond to human facial expressions, and how they process human speech.

Such research could definitely shed new light on the 15 000 year old human-canine bond – perhaps it can even help explain why certain people prefer certain breeds.