Fall 2013 OVC Pet Trust Funded Projects

Estimating homeless cat populations

OVC scientists are hoping to answer some  fundamental questions about the rising population of homeless cats, an important issue in communities across Canada where
 an estimated 60,000 cats were euthanized  in 2011. This project aims to answer basic questions such as: What is the size of the homeless cat population? How many cats are expected to be surrendered and rescued by shelters? How does this happen over time? Is it a seasonal phenomenon? Is the problemincreasing over past years?

Predicting cancer treatment outcomes

Certain proteins associated with mast cell tumours (MCT) in dogs may help improve diagnosis and predict the patient’s response to therapy. The most common type of skin cancer found in dogs, MCT can differ greatly and it can be difficult to choose the best therapy for an individual dog, or to predict how the cancer will behave. This project will study tissue specimens from 600 MCT cases and analyze the structural and molecular changes through different stages of tumour progression, and a particular protein targeted by the cancer drugs Palladia and Masivet.

Impact of radiation therapy on bone loss

OVC cancer specialists are hoping to improve treatment of osteosarcoma by examining the effects of radiation therapy used in combination with drugs that help prevent the loss of bone mass. Radiation therapy may be used in lower doses to relieve pain or at higher doses to kill tumour cells. It is often used in combination with bisphosphonates, drugs which prevent the loss of bone tissue due to diseases such as osteoporosis. This study will examine the effects of radiation therapy on osteosarcoma cells treated with bisphosphonates.

Improving fracture repairs in cats

The latest technology in bone implants used to treat injuries in humans is being adapted to improve the success of bone repairs in cats. This project will test a new device that has been recently adapted for veterinary use in small dogs and cats. Developing a more effective way to repair leg fractures in cats with fewer complications will improve pets’ quality of life and make surgery more affordable.

Post-operative pain relief in parrots

OVC researchers are investigating a long-lasting way to deliver pain medication in parrots. Butorphanol is the most effective pain medication available for parrots and pigeons; however, studies have shown each dose is only effective for one to three hours. Repeated handling and injections are very stressful to birds and may exacerbate post-operative pain and discomfort. This project will evaluate the effectiveness and safety of butorphanol delivered in a slow-release gel.

Comparing the intestinal microbes in shelter animals and pets

Groundbreaking advances in DNA sequencing have revolutionized our understanding of the microorganisms in the intestinal tract, and their role in health and disease. This project will attempt to determine whether samples from shelter animals are truly reflective of pet animals or whether studies evaluating health and disease in pet animals must involve typical pets in households.

Evaluating tools used in microwave ablation therapy

An OVC diagnostic imaging specialist is investigating ways to reduce the cost of microwave ablation therapy, a minimally-invasive alternative to surgery used to treat a variety of cancers in humans. The technique is not commonly used in veterinary medicine, mainly due to equipment costs. This project will assess the lifespan of microwave antennas following repeated use and reprocessing, and lay the groundwork for a clinical trials program.

Diagnosing a painful neck disorder

Ultrasound is being examined as an alternative to X-rays, CT scans and MRI for the diagnosis of a serious neck disorder. The condition, called atlantoaxial subluxation, affects mainly small breed dogs such as Yorkshire terriers or toy poodles. It occurs when there is instability between the first and second vertebrae in the neck. Ultrasound can be performed in an unsedated or partially sedated patient, and may allow for a safer diagnostic test than radiographs, CT or MRI to obtain a diagnosis.