Animal hospital at Tufts University has seen about a dozen dogs for eating face masks

Face masks are helping keep people safe during the COVID pandemic but they are posing a risk to dogs.

The Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University in Grafton said they have seen about a dozen dogs that have eaten face masks, some of which have needed emergency surgery.

Catherine Stecyk, a surgeon and resident at the Foster Hospital said she could see the “fitted nosepiece of a face mask” using x-rays on King, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever.

“We took King to emergency surgery, where I felt two wads of material,” said Stecyk. “One was stuck in the stomach and extending into the beginning of the small intestine, causing it to bunch up, and the other one was a bit farther down the intestine. The intestine was inflamed and bruised, but not yet traumatized to the point of perforation, which was really lucky.”

The 2-year-old Lab was able to make a full recovery, but Stecyk warns dog owners that it could’ve been a lot worse.

“Face masks are pretty new to daily life for most of us,” said veterinarian Elizabeth Rozanski. “Some dog owners may be used to their pet being OK after eating a greasy paper towel or pooping out a sock. However, they need to know that cloth masks and the medical-grade paper masks don’t dissolve that quickly, and the ties or ear loops can lead to a dangerous linear obstruction.”

The animal hospital warns owners to keep masks out of reach, discard masks properly when outside the home and contact a veterinarian immediately if your dog does eat a mask.

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Fossils show 66 million years of insects eating kauri trees

Fossils show 66 million years of insects eating kauri trees
Agathis microstachya and Agathis robusta growing near Lake Barrine, Australia. Credit: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Exquisitely preserved feeding marks on fossil conifer leaves show that the same insect feeding and fungi persisted for millions of years on the same type of plant, from ancient Patagonian rainforests to the modern rainforests of the tropical West Pacific.

Over 50 million years ago, rainforests teeming with life stretched across the ancient supercontinent Gondwana, including what is now South America, Antarctica and Australia. Based on fossil evidence, many plants that now live in places like Australia, New Guinea and Borneo are survivors from the Gondwanan rainforest. Fossil leaves from the Patagonian region of southern Argentina also preserve an astonishing variety of insect-feeding damage traces like those seen in modern rainforests, showing that the Gondwanan forests were also home to diverse plant-feeding insect communities. Did those ancient plant-insect communities survive the breakup of Gondwana and the dramatic range changes of the host plants, and are they still alive today?

An international group of researchers focused on fossils of Agathis, a majestic, tall conifer commonly known as kauri, comparing thousands of modern specimens from Australasia and Southeast Asia to 482 Patagonian fossils ranging in age from 66 to 48 million years, latest Cretaceous to middle Eocene. Their findings were published today (Nov. 25) in Communications Biology.

Fossils show 66 million years of insects eating kauri trees
Leaf mine on a leaf of cf. Agathis from the latest Cretaceous Lefipán Formation, Chubut, Argentina. Similar blotch mines on Agathis from before and after the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction (when the non-avian dinosaurs went extinct) represent the first evidence of a probable surviving leaf mine association on the same plant genus during the mass extinction. Credit: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

“We found remarkably similar suites of insect and fungal damage on fossil and living Agathis leaves over a vast span of time and space,” said Dr. Michael Donovan, Senior Collections Manager of Paleobotany & Paleoecology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and lead author of the paper.

Insects have evolved many different plant-feeding strategies, and hundreds of damage types have been recognized in the fossil record. On both the fossil and modern Agathis leaves, the team found highly specialized leaf mines that insect larvae create as they tunnel through leaves, tumor-like galls, bite marks along leaf edges from hungry insects, the waxy protective armor of scale insects, and rust fungi.

Notably, the researchers found extremely similar elongated, blotchy leaf mines on Agathis at all the fossil sites and on multiple living species of the same conifer.

Fossils show 66 million years of insects eating kauri trees
Leaf mine, a tunnel made by a larval insect, on a leaf of Agathis zamunerae (a conifer in the family Araucariaceae) from Laguna del Hunco, an early Eocene fossil locality in Chubut, Argentina. Similar mines were found on fossil Agathis from the latest Cretaceous to middle Eocene in Patagonia and modern species in Australasia and Southeast Asia. Credit: Cleveland Museum of Natural History

“While working on a previous study on the recovery of insect feeding after the end-Cretaceous “dinosaur” extinction, I

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