View this email in your browser

Researchers warn of deadly parvovirus strain spreading in Australian dogs

Dogs suspected of having the disease need to see a vet quickly.-  A Clark

Vets and dog owners are being warned that canine parvovirus – a contagious and often fatal disease – is spreading rapidly among Australian dogs.

University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science postdoctoral research fellow Dr Nicholas Clark said canine parvovirus (CPV-2) was one of the most globally important diseases infecting domestic dogs.

“Dog owners should vaccinate their pets against this insidious infection, and anyone who suspects their dogs might have the disease should have them treated or hospitalised without delay,” he said.

Dr Clark said parvovirus – which causes lethargy, vomiting, fever and bloody diarrhoea, and can kill puppies and young dogs – was first detected in the 1970s, and two new strains began circulating in the 1980s.

Dr Clark, UQ’s Professor Joanne Meers and other scientists at UQ and Boehringer Ingelheim Pty Ltd have now discovered that a strain previously identified as minor is expanding across Australia.

“This is important because identifying various strains of the virus is a key to successful treatment,” Dr Clark said.

“We need ongoing monitoring programs to detect new variants and make informed recommendations to develop reliable detection and vaccine methods.”

The UQ VETS Small Animal Hospital at UQ’s Gatton campus has reported a spike in canine parvovirus (also known as canine parvo) cases in the local community.

Details of research identifying emerging strains of parvovirus is published in Infection, Genetics and Evolution (doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2017.12.013).


The Australian Government is releasing 1.5 million square kilometres of sea floor data which provide the first high-resolution map of the entire Great Barrier Reef.

·       The sea floor mapping data, or bathymetry data, released today by Geoscience Australia are the product of a four-year joint project between the Government and James Cook University to shed light on the reef’s unique marine geography.

·       The Great Barrier Reef dataset will support a range of policy, planning and scientific work; in particular providing important information for the environmental management of the Great Barrier Reef.


The Australian Government has released the first high-resolution map of the sea floor of the entire Great Barrier Reef.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan and Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg announced the release of the data today, saying it would be an invaluable tool for the future environmental management of this Australian natural wonder.

Minister Canavan said these data are the product of a four-year scientific partnership between Geoscience Australia, James Cook University (JCU) and the Australian Hydrographic Service (AHS).

“The Great Barrier Reef is an Australian icon and Queenslanders are lucky to call it their own. Having 1.5 million square kilometres of data shows us the reef’s structure and the underwater geography of the region on an unprecedented scale,” Minister Canavan said.

The Minister said this was the first high-resolution dataset in a series that Geoscience Australia would release covering large parts of the Northern Australian coastline in the collaborative project with JCU and the AHS.

“Geoscience Australia has provided funding and leadership to deliver these datasets over the next two years, and has worked with the AHS to bring its vast holdings of marine data to the project,” Minister Canavan said.

“This series will provide a detailed view of the marine geography of our northern coastline, assisting to maintain safety at sea, law enforcement and broader government and commercial operations.”

Minister Frydenberg welcomed the release of the data, which he said represented a big step forward for the environmental management of the Reef.

“The quality of this huge dataset gives government agencies access to the information they need to make the right decisions to protect the reef for future generations,” Minister Frydenberg said.

“This is a treasure trove of data and it will be put to a range of uses, including research into marine ecosystems and oceanographic and tidal modelling, which among other things helps better predict storm surges along the Queensland coast.”

Reviled animals could be our powerful allies

We are just now beginning to understand the potentially irreplaceable
services these animals can provide, says researcher Chris O'Bryan

Animal carnivores living in and around human habitation are declining at an unprecedented rate – but they may provide crucial benefits to human societies.

An international review led by University of Queensland researchers has revealed that predators and scavengers ranging from bats to leopards and vultures are valuable to human health and well-being.

UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences PhD student Christopher O’Bryan said the study showed examples of native predators and scavengers providing services including disease regulation, agricultural productivity and waste disposal.

Predators and scavengers such as big cats in Africa and Asia or dingoes in Australia are a large source of conflict to humans, but there are many examples where they may provide benefits,” Mr O’Bryan said.

“Our paper identifies studies that have shown these benefits across a broad spectrum.

“These include US mountain lions reducing deer-vehicle collisions, bats saving corn farmers billions of dollars each year by reducing crop pests, and vultures saving millions in livestock carcass removal.

“These benefits may affect areas across the globe where predators and scavengers are present.

“For example, there is a link between the presence of bats and increased coffee production that could have great economic impacts in developing countries, as coffee is a major commodity.”

The research aimed to evaluate positive and negative effects on human well-being through an extensive review of recent studies.

“The literature shows that we know a lot about the negative impacts of predators and scavengers, but we are just now beginning to understand the potentially irreplaceable services these animals can provide,” Mr O’Bryan said.

“If we lose these animals, we may be in trouble.”

Australian Research Council Fellow Dr Eve McDonald-Madden said research into these benefits would improve evaluation of the implications of decisions affecting  many vilified species.

“We can then highlight those situations leading to win-wins for both predators and people, thus enhancing the protection of one of the world’s most threatened groups of animals,” she said.

Mr O’Bryan is an Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre scholar.

The research (The contribution of predators and scavengers to human well-being) is published in Nature Ecology & Evolution (DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0421-2).

Dogs can't speak human. Here's the tech that could change that.

A pet translator could be available in less than a decade.

What if your pet dog or cat could talk instead of barking or meowing? You’d know just how much Rover loves you — and maybe how sorry Fluffy is about that mess on the carpet.

We all know that’s not about to happen. But recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning suggest the longstanding dream of being able to converse with animals — in a limited fashion — could become a reality.

With the help of AI, scientists are learning how to translate animals’ vocalizations and facial expressions into something we can understand. Recent advances include an AI system that listens in on marmoset monkeys to parse the dozen calls they use to communicate with each other and one that reads sheep’s faces to determine whether an animal is in pain.

Taking note of the research, an Amazon-sponsored report on future trends released last summer predicted that in 10 years, we’ll have a translator for pets.

What prairie dogs have to say

Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, a professor emeritus of biology at Northern Arizona University and the author of “Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals," is on the vanguard of animal communication. More than 30 years studying prairie dogs have convinced him that these North American rodents have a sophisticated form of vocal communication that is nothing less than language.

The prairie dogs make high-pitched calls to alert the group to the presence of a predator. Slobodchinoff discovered that those calls vary according to the type of the predator as well as its size. The animals can combine their calls in various ways and can even use them to indicate the color of a nearby human’s clothing.

But Slobodchinoff wasn’t content just to understand prairie dogs. With help from a computer scientist colleague, he developed an algorithm that turns the vocalizations into English. And last year, he founded a company called Zoolingua with the goal of developing a similar tool that translates pet sounds, facial expressions, and body movements.

“I thought, if we can do this with prairie dogs, we can certainly do it with dogs and cats,” Slobodchikoff said.

The work is at an early stage. Slobodchikoff is amassing thousands of videos of dogs showing various barks and body movements. He’ll use the videos to teach an AI algorithm about these communication signals. The algorithm still needs to be told what each bark or tail wag means, and at this point that means humans must offer their own interpretations. But Slobodchikoff aims to incorporate the growing scientific research that uses careful experiments rather than guesswork to decipher the true meanings of dogs’ behavior.

Slobodchinoff’s ultimate goal is to create a device that can be pointed at a dog to translate its woofs into English words — for example, Slobodchiknoff said, “'I want to eat now’…or ‘I want to go for a walk.’”

What animal communication would mean

Being able to communicate with animals would mean more than just forging closer emotional ties with them. It could eliminate the guesswork in caring for animals and even save their lives.

In the U.S. alone, an estimated 3 million unwanted cats and dogs are euthanized each year — in many cases because of their poorly understood behavioral problems. But a dog that exhibits aggression could simply be afraid — and if we have the technology to understand its fears, we might be able to find a way to spare its life. “You could use that information and instead of backing the dog into a corner, give the dog more space,” Slobodchikoff said.

Similarly, AI technology could make things easier for farmers and ranchers — for instance, by quickly identifying animals that are sick by detecting signs of pain in their faces.

“Farmers find it difficult to recognize pain in the sheep,” said Dr. Krista McLennan, a lecturer in animal behavior at the University of Chester in England. She developed a scale for estimating pain levels based on the animals’ facial expressions — retracted lips, folded ears, and so on.

But when training people to use the scale proved difficult, Dr. Peter Robinson, a University of Cambridge professor who has developed computer systems that read human facial expressions, turned McLennan’s scale into an AI algorithm. When the computer running the algorithm was shown hundreds of photos of sheep — some healthy and some not — it learned to tell which animals were in pain.

Though confined to the lab for now, the technology could one day be commercialized — perhaps in the form of a camera that automatically photographs sheep as they pass through a gate, Robinson said. If an animal is showing pain, the rancher would get an automatic alert.

Such a system could be much faster than humans at spotting sick animals — and more reliable. “The reason I’m slightly optimistic is that in our research with people’s faces, our automatic system was as good as the top 10 percent of people — much better than the average person,” Robinson said.

Robinson and McLennan want to expand their work to other animals — and perhaps for indicators other than pain. “We are looking at pain because that’s the most significant in terms of welfare,” McLennan said. “But there's nothing stopping us from looking at other emotions as well. What does a happy sheep look like? What does a sad sheep look like? But there still needs to be a lot of work done.”

Even if an AI translator becomes a reality, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll ever have a heart-to-heart conversation with your pet. There are vast differences between human and animal cognition, and we are a long way from understanding the latter.

One technology that may give us access to dogs’ mysterious mental life is brain imaging. In humans, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can be used to detect certain mental states by looking at brain activity.

“I see something like that very possible with dogs,” said Dr. Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University and the author of "What It's Like to Be a Dog: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience." Berns has been training dogs to lie still inside brain scanners as the machine reads their brain activity. Already, his experiments have opened a window into what dogs might think or feel — for example, he’s found evidence that dogs see us as friends, and not just hands that feed them.

“Their reward system in the brain is driven as much by praise as food,” Berns said. “This reinforces the notion that the dog enjoys the social bond with humans by itself.”

Maybe someday technology can turn us all into Dr. Dolittles so we can make the wonderful bond between people and their pets even tighter.

Dogs NSW’s ‘Australia Day’ event a display of canines from around the globe

Dogs NSW is encouraging pet lovers to include their dogs in Australia Day celebrations, with special attention to Australian purebreds, and inviting the public to attend the Dogs NSW Library & Archives Committee Championship Show on Friday, January 26 at Erskine Park.
Dogs NSW is the peak body in New South Wales responsible for promoting breeding, showing, trialling, obedience, and other canine-related activities and the ownership of temperamentally and physically sound purebred dogs across NSW.
“Australia Day isn’t just a day to acknowledge people’s contributions to Australia, but also to celebrate its multicultural canine citizens,” said Nancy Keck, Chairman of the Dogs NSW Library & Archives Committee. “The Dogs NSW Library & Archives Committee Championship Show - as well as being a dog show - is also an opportunity for members to celebrate Australia Day together.
“This special event will be of interest to those who wish to see the many breeds of dogs we have in Australia and find out where they come from. We have pedigrees brought in from most European countries, Russia, Alaska, Brazil, Asia and many countries in the Americas -  all now proud Australians!”
Over 500 pedigree dogs are expected to enter the championship show, which will have many prizes up for paws, including Best in Show and Best of Breed for each Australian breed. Dogs NSW will also run a Fancy Dress Competition for children and adults, and have a special ‘Library & Archives’ display of treasured books (some more than 100 years old!), statues and memorabilia. 
Dogs NSW against bullying
Dogs NSW registered breeder Amy Curran, author, photographer and illustrator, will launch her children’s book “Bobby the Plain-Faced Cattle Dog”, which carries a life-saving anti-bullying message aimed at young readers. The book’s character is Mrs Curran’s Australian Cattle Dog, Bobby, whose image has been used by more than 45,000 social media users as a message of anti-bullying and confidence.
Visitors will have the opportunity to meet Bobby during the book signing at the show.
“Dogs NSW invites the public to be a part of the fun activities, including the Fancy Dress competition, and learn about the advantages of owning a purebred dog,” said Lynette Brown, President of Dogs NSW. “Dogs NSW Library & Archives Committee Championship Show is a fabulous day out for all dog enthusiasts - especially those unsure about what type of dog would best suit their lifestyle or growing family - or simply a fun, free day out for the entire family!”
Event summary
  • Dogs NSW Library & Archives Committee Championship Show
  • Date: Friday, January 26
  • Time: 8am – 4pm
  • Location: The Bill Spilstead Complex for Canine Affairs, 44 Luddenham Road, Orchard Hills 
FREE Admission and parking on the grounds plus food and refreshments available. For more information please contact Dogs NSW on (02) 9834 3022 or visit
Sea Horse Diamond Beach gets the Winners Lick of Approval!

It was wagging tails, happy dog tongues and champagne corks popping last night, when Dianne and Chris Denton’s dog friendly holiday vacation rental Sea Horse Diamond Beach was awarded the 5 Paws Award for Dog Friendly Accommodation NSW in the highly prized Holidaying With Dogs awards.
The  5 Paws Awards have been running for over 30 years and are based upon;
  1. Pet friendliness
  2. People friendliness
  3. Location
  4. Value
With the most important qualification being that dogs and their owners are made to feel like valued and welcome guests.

With over 1000 votes received Australia wide for dog friendly properties and 6 NSW finalists selected, Sea Horse Diamond Beach was a standout in its dog loving accommodation offering.

‘We love dogs – particularly big ones, we have a Doberman and a Boxer ourselves – so we know what dogs and their owners need and like as well as what makes a holiday property truly dog friendly and welcoming’  Dianne Denton said.  ‘Everything about Sea Horse Diamond Beach has been designed around being truly dog friendly - from our doggy guests being welcome inside the whole house with their owners, to the huge dog safe yard and unique Doggy Day Pen, through to the dog bean bags, bedding and bowls provided for them here.  And then there is the multiple dog friendly beaches and dog friendly community that surround us here.  It all adds up to a wonderful holiday location for dogs and their families’.

‘We’ve travelled with our dogs and know how it can be a real challenge finding reasonable, let alone great, dog friendly accommodation.  Add a big dog like a Doberman or a Boxer into the mix and it can become extremely difficult.  Many vacation rentals say they’re dog friendly – but they aren’t.   At Sea Horse Diamond Beach our 4 pawed guests have as much of a great holiday as their 2 legged owners do’.
UK News

Sarah Fowler new Sales Director Fish4Dogs

An experienced pet trade specialist, who loves to mountaineer in her spare time, is set to take Fish4Dogs to new heights as its Sales Director.

Sarah Fowler has joined the Worcestershire-based premium pet food manufacturer to drive sales in the UK and Europe and increase brand and product presence in stores.

She has 17 years’ experience in the pet sector, with great knowledge of European retail and wholesale networks. Sarah was previously Commercial Director at Vital pet wholesale.

Said Sarah: “There is a massive opportunity to broaden the range of Fish4Dogs in UK trade outlets.

Fish4Dogs has a wonderful product range, which delivers on quality and brand promise. It has a very loyal direct to consumer base and sells well in-store where pet shop owners fully understand the benefits of feeding fish to dogs.” 

“I’m excited by the challenge of bringing Fish4Dogs excellent range of food and treats to more and more customers, via pet shops around the UK and in mainland Europe.”

A graduate of Oxford Brookes University, where she achieved a BA Hons in English Lit and History, Sarah is skilled in strategic development and creating strong growth for premium brands via pet wholesale and retail channels. 

She is a staunch advocate of “pet first – quality food and treats – heathy dogs – happy owners” which was a key objective in her buying and marketing work with Vital.

In her spare time, Sarah, enjoys hiking, mountaineering, running, skiing and travel. She has ambitions to run a marathon and ultimately climb the Alps but has a more realistic objective in the short term - to complete the Wainwright routes of the English Lake District.

Fish4Dogs CEO Graham Smith, said that he was delighted to have Sarah as part of the team.

“Sarah has a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the industry, she understands our brand and the values which underpin it. Her expertise and passion for the business, will help our continued growth and develop new sales opportunities to give consumers greater choice and convenience to access our product ranges. Specifically, over the coming weeks Sarah will be building a new team to provide UK pet shops with enhanced support in terms of training, promotions, merchandising providing them with tangible retail growth opportunities”

Toby Hart, the previous Sales Director at Fish4Dogs has been appointed to a new role within the company, Business Development Director, and is responsible for driving export sales in specific ‘super growth’ countries including China, Australia and the USA. 

Source: Fish4Dogs

US News

Petland on Top-ranked Franchise List

Entrepreneur Magazine positions Petland on Franchise 500 list

Petland is honored to once again be ranked among top-ranked franchises in the United States.

Petland placed in the top 250 spots this year, ranking 209 overall in the Entrepreneur Magazine's 39th Annual Franchise 500. According to World Franchising Network, there are more than 4,000 active franchisors in North America.

"We spend months gathering and analyzing data in order to produce our annual Franchise 500 list and with over 1,000 franchisees applying for the first time in 25 years, this may have been our most competitive ranking ever," wrote Jason Feifer, Entrepreneur's Editor in Chief.

"We are honored to be recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the top 500 franchise concepts in the United States," said Petland, Inc. President and CEO Joe Watson. "Petland is proud to be your neighborhood pet store with stores around the world.  This recognition is a testament to the hard work and success of our franchisees and the continued relevance of the Petland brand and proprietary operating model."

Petland, Inc.'s Vice President of Business Development Steve Huggins stated, "With the Petland brand continuing to grow around the globe, the strength of the Petland franchise system directly correlates to the dedication and hard work of Petland franchisees."

In conducting its annual rating of franchises in the world, Entrepreneur considers numerous factors including financial strength, stability, growth rate and size of the franchise system. Other rating factors include number of years in business, length of time franchising, start-up costs, litigation, percentage of terminations and whether the company provides financing. An independent CPA firm audits financial data. Every company with verifiable data receives a cumulative score. The franchises with the highest cumulative scores become the Franchise 500.

Petland, Inc. is a franchise operation with quality, full service retail pet centers across the United States, Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, and El Salvador. The first Petland in Saudi Arabia will open in spring 2018.

For 50 years, Petland Pet Counselors have been dedicated to matching the right pet with the right customer and meeting the needs of both. To its customers who already have pets, Petland is dedicated to enhancing their knowledge and enjoyment of the human-animal bond.

Petland was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in south central Ohio. For more information on Petland, visit

Copyright © 2018 PETNEWS AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.