Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

August 09, 2002

Companion animal research growing at Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College

Companion animal research being conducted at the Ontario Veterinary College is breaking new ground in health care and medical technology. The progress in pet research is detailed in the newest issue of the University of Guelph’s Research magazine.

Research is the biggest university research magazine in Canada. It's also the only one written, designed and produced totally by students.

“Students and researchers work together to help communicate issues that are important to the lives of Canadians,” said magazine editor Owen Roberts, director of Research Communications. “There’s mounting evidence that companion animals help humans stay healthier, and the research in this magazine supports Guelph’s interest in that human-animal bond, which means making sure animals stay healthy, too.”

In addition to its regular recipients, this issue of Research will be distributed to every veterinary clinic in Ontario. It includes stories on the feline leukemia virus, diagnosis and treatment of animal cancers, antibiotic resistance in pets and canine stem cell research, as well as stories on the research outlined below.

Research is available online, at: [ Click here ]


University of Guelph researchers are taking a closer look at how some European countries handle canine overpopulation problems without surgery.

Some European countries give female dogs a drug that prevents them from going into heat. As a result, these countries don’t have the same stray-dog problems experienced in North America, despite the rarity of spayed or neutered dogs there.

Prof. Cathy Gartley of the Department of Population Medicine is working with Prof. Allan King of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Karen Goodrowe of the Toronto Zoo to study non-surgical methods of pet population control for use in North America.

“Surgical methods are effective, but not enough pets have them done,” said Gartley. American studies show that only about half of people adopting dogs from the SPCA have them sterilized.

But not so in Europe. In Sweden, for example, dog owners take their pets for a checkup and an anti-fertility drug injection every six months. Gartley said this system wouldn’t be practical in North America because pet owners don’t visit their veterinarians so frequently and aren’t likely to do so. So she’s looking for a longer-term solution.

Her research team is learning more about the reproductive physiology of dogs in order to develop an infertility drug that needs to be administered only once a year.

Cathy Gartley, Department of Population Medicine
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 4198


Even reptiles recoil at the smell of hospitals, partly because the smell of the most widely used anesthetic for reptiles seems to be downright unpleasant to these animals. In fact, when they catch a whiff, they’re so surprised that they hold their breath, sometimes for more than 15 minutes. And if that happens before surgery, they don’t go to sleep right away, leaving the anesthetist and the patient staring at each other instead of getting the job done.

Now, University of Guelph pathology professor Dale Smith and D.V.Sc. candidate Mads Bertelsen are working with Toronto Zoo veterinarian Graham Crawshaw and Guelph clinical studies professor Doris Dyson to improve procedures for anesthetizing reptiles. They hope to find a faster, safer and more effective inhalant anesthetic that’s easier to breathe in.

They’re looking into an inhalant anesthetic called sevoflurane, which is being used more frequently in humans, and has many desirable properties for use in reptiles. In particular, its lack of smell can help put reptiles to sleep faster. The new inhalant agent has also shown positive effects in dogs, horses and birds.

“Our goal is to try to improve the way things are done,” said Smith. “We’re attempting to find safer and more effective drug combinations that can be applied to reptiles.”

Dale Smith, Department of Pathology
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 4622


University of Guelph researchers are testing a new three-dimensional ultrasound method that could lead to more accurate diagnoses.

Having a third dimension in ultrasound technology means the image can be rotated and seen at different angles on a computer.

“Two-dimensional images allow the body structure to be viewed at only one angle,” said clinical studies professor Howard Dobson. “This may not provide a clear view.”

Two-dimensional ultrasound is used in a wide range of medical procedures, including imaging human fetuses and diagnosing illness in farm animals. But interpreting these images is challenging because the ultrasound image must be oriented perfectly for adequate information to be present, said Dobson. Making an accurate diagnosis requires a lot of technical skill and ultrasound experience, which is mainly the purvey of specialists, he said.

Now, however, a third dimension can be added by using special computer software. Instead of getting a series of flat image “slices,” the operator can scan a “block” image of tissue. This image can then be sliced in the computer along any plane, providing the practitioner with more easily accessible information.

Dobson is testing this feature to determine if it allows all veterinarians, not just specialists, to use the ultrasound tool accurately.

“If the results go the way we expect them to, this method should catch on quickly,” he said. “In the next couple of years, 3-D ultrasound software will be found at most veterinary practices.”
Howard Dobson, Department of Clinical Studies
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 4004

Most of the research featured in the magazine is funded by the Ontario Veterinary College Pet Trust Fund. It’s a research fund dedicated to advancing the health, health care and quality of life of companion animals. For more information about Pet Trust, visit: [ Click here ]

For media questions or to obtain a copy of the magazine, contact Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 6982.

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