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Like Humans, Dogs Born in the Summer May Have an Unusual Health Risk

If your pup is celebrating a birthday soon, you might want to keep an eye out.

For thousands of years, humans have cared deeply for dogs. We’ve cared for them so deeply that we selectively bred them until they became deformed little monsters. Over generations of artificial selection, domestic dogs have developed a range of physical health problems — hip dysplasia in German shepherds, breathing issues in bulldogs, and heart disease in Cavalier King Charles spaniels — because of the genes we’ve chosen for them. But on Thursday, scientists identified an unusual risk factor for dogs that aren’t normally considered at-risk for heart disease.

In a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists showed in a large-scale study that dogs without a predisposition to heart disease born between June and August have higher rates of cardiovascular disease than dogs born at other times of the year. This effect peaked in July, as researchers found dogs born then were 47 percent more likely to have heart problems at any point in their lives than those born at other times during the year. The strange exception to this trend were dog breeds with a genetic predisposition to heart problems — outliers that may be key to understanding what’s actually going on here.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a higher risk of congenital heart disease, so they're usually monitored closely for this issue. 

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The results of the study, which used Orthopedic Foundation of Animals data on 129,778 dogs from 253 different breeds, mirror the team’s previous findings that certain lifetime diseases — including heart disease — were more likely to occur in people born during certain months. That study, as well as others on the same topic, suggest that the month of conception is associated with certain gene mutations. (As you may have realized by now, this study is actually more about humans than dogs, as the dog heart is often used as a research model for the human heart.)

The dog breeds that bucked this trend can help explaining the paper’s findings. The study’s authors suspect that the gene mutation involved in heart disease in dogs born during the summer may be a gene that isn’t normally involved in heart disease, which could explain why the summer peak doesn’t affect dogs that are already prone to heart problems. Of course, there might be simpler explanations. One might be that dogs already genetically predisposed to heart problems are more closely monitored and therefore are less likely to suffer from undiagnosed issues.

Another has to do with breeding. “Dogs that show signs of cardiovascular disease that come from high-risk breeds are often prevented from breeding along with other disease-related conditions,” the authors write. Humans, however, don’t simply decide to take their genes out of the gene pool because they have a family risk of disease, though, so if scientists can better understand the reasons behind this strange summer phenomenon, they can better understand how to help humans live healthier lives.

The researchers report that the monthly heart disease risks for dogs in this study are similar to those exhibited by humans. So, it sees that dogs are not only humans’ best friend; they might also be our best chance at understanding the risks that people with summer birthdays face.

Mars Attacked! Photo of Asteroid Collision Shows Its Amazing Impact Crater

We're just kidding, but a meteorite approximately five feet wide left a crater over 50 feet wide

A newly released image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows the incredible aftermath of an asteroid impact on the Martian surface.

Using its High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), the MRO photographed the new crater on April 17, 2019, while while orbiting at an altitude of 255 kilometers (158 miles), according to a HiRise statement.

Falafel: How a Biblical Dish Can Become the Food of the Future

Bring in the bugs.

If you took a spin on Google on Tuesday, you likely noticed an adorable, anthropomorphic ball of falafel getting snug in a bit of pita with some friends (who are also falafel). This is because, like other cultural icons before it, falafel is now a Google Doodle.

Google tells Inverse that the falafel doodle is running because June is “peak chickpea growing season!” That’s true, but it also begs the question for how long? Chickpeas are now a key part of falafel, but they are also highly susceptible to climate change. If crunchy, delicious falafel is going to make it to the future, chefs will likely have to turn to another foundational ingredient.

Massive Metal "Anomaly" Detected Beneath the Surface of the Moon

Every single sci-fi fan and space buff across the world is hoping it's just one thing...

Researchers have just discovered that there’s something solid buried 180 miles beneath the moon’s surface … and, it’s huge. It’s estimated to weigh 4.8 quintillion pounds (that’s 17 zeroes), which is roughly 350 million times as heavy as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Billions of years ago, something hit the moon and created one of the biggest impact craters in our solar system — a vast depression on the moon known as the South Pole-Aitken basin. It’s believed this could be a colossal mass of metal left over from the asteroid when it smashed into the lunar surface.

Public Sewage Revealed Shift Away From Illegal Weed After Legalization

"Many established users switched from the illegal to the legal market."

When the citizens of Washington voted to legalize cannabis in 2012, the potential effects this change would have on the state were a mystery. With a thriving black market on the West Coast of the US, it wasn’t at all clear whether Washingtonians would embrace state-licensed cannabis dispensaries. New research in the journal Addiction, though, suggests that the legal cannabis market in Washington has put a significant dent in the illegal market. And the evidence is all in the sewers.