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Dogs are a huge part of my life. My husband Stan and I share our home with three King Charles Cavalier Spaniels and they are a source of constant joy, giggles, and craziness. Their sweet spirits actually inspired our new company, Vital Planet Pets.

At Vital Planet we offer the highest quality dog supplements that can be found anywhere. From exemplary probiotic formulas to condition specific nutritional/herbal/energetic formulations, our products are life changing and effective for our canine friends.

We even have a great cat probiotic! Cats don’t despair, we’re coming out with a full line for you in 2016.

Which leads me to this week’s blog topic. I have a great present for dog lovers out there! I hope you enjoy reading this article that I found in the Wall Street Journal as much as I did entitled “Why Dogs Are Some Scientists’ New Best Friends”.

Dogs actually develop a lot of the same diseases that we humans do, making them valuable subjects for research.

Hold on now, don’t freak – we’re not talking lab rat experiments here. No scalpels or cages! What’s so cool about this research is it’s being conducted using saliva samples for DNA testing and behavioral observation.

The University of Massachusettes Medical School is launching a study of canine genetics, behavior and personality. Interestingly named Darwin’s Dogs, the team is attempting to answer important questions about human conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder and autism. Somehow I wouldn’t have imagined that. Seems Dobermans are known for “canine compulsive disorder” that’s similar to OCD in humans!

When we at Vital Planet talk to people about the value of ongoing maintenance of the health of their dogs rather than waiting for nasty disease to show up, I always remind them that dogs are essentially like us. They have the same endocrine system, the same organs, a skeletal system, a nervous system. One major difference is that they have a shorter digestive tract and longer teeth, which impacts their food requirements of course. However, the similarities far outweigh the differences.

In this article I enjoyed learning that a dog’s DNA is so close to ours that they can be our best friends in even more ways than ever. For example, recent research on osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer in children and frequently found in dogs showed that the composition of the tumors in children compared to those in dogs was virtually indistinguishable. Collecting more specimens from dogs could result in positive progress in understanding the etiology of this heartbreaking disease process.

One of our Vital Planet products, Daily Detox, is designed to support healthy functioning of a dog’s liver. Along with probiotics, the liver is our front line defense against our poisonous environment. If you think about it, dogs are even more toxic than we are. They’re smaller and closer to the ground. They are exposed to the same pollutants in their environments as we are, at closer range in some cases. Studies have been done clearly showing their increased toxic levels. This comparison information can allow us to better understand the impact that these toxins are having on humans on a day-to-day basis.

There’s actually a company called Dognition that enrolls dog owners as “citizen scientists”. The humans are asked to have their dogs complete different games or specific tasks. Then the collected data is submitted.

I must say, I was wondering how reliable that data might be. Apparently studies have also been conducted comparing data validity between lab and this type of at-home collection. The citizen-scientist data was found “useful and reliable”. I love this!

Dr. Hare from Dognition is looking at the environmental or behavioral factors that affect both the human and their dog. He calls this concept “one health” and defines that as ‘how animal research can help human health, and vice versa’.

For far too long an animal’s position in research has been a frightful one-way street. It delights me to imagine that our awareness is expanding in these avenues to recognize our dogs much more as beings deserving of respect and appreciation – for their salivary DNA and even their behaviors!