3D printed models of dog skulls are helping University of Queensland vets tosave animals and educate tomorrow’s veterinary students.

The models, showcased at the World Science Festival, were the result of acollaboration between UQ Library’s Digital Scholars Hub and the School ofVeterinary Science.

UQ veterinarian and Associate Professor Rachel Allavena used the skulls tohelp children understand how dogs with short noses can suffer from thecondition brachycephalia.

“Some dogs – like pugs, French bulldogs and Boston terriers – can have suchshort faces that they have trouble breathing and keeping themselves cool, asthey’re unable to pant effectively,” she said.

“This trait has been selected by humans to make dogs look cute and more flat-faced like us, but it can result in significant suffering or invasive surgicaltreatments to help the dogs breathe002E`

“By having 3D models, we’re able to show just how problematic this conditionis and to easily explain tricky concepts like this to school kids.

“It also helps us explain why people should consider adopting shelter dogs,which are often greyhounds or mutts, and are generally very healthy and makeexcellent pets.”

UQ Digital Scholars Hub’s Nick Wiggins, who developed the models, is excitedto use emerging digital technologies for science education.”

“3D model creation is becoming more accessible, more affordable and improvingin quality,” he said.

“In this case, using the medical imaging data of a dog that had a CT scan atUQ, open-source medical imaging software, a low-end 3D printer and somebiodegradable starch-made plastic, we can build something quickly and cheaplythat will connect science to a whole new audience.

“And it’s not just veterinary science – I’m working with a number of otherdisciplines, including archaeology, palaeontology, botany, zoology, geology,history, and human movement science.

discussion with archaeobotanists – archaeologists that look at plant remains –to scan tiny seeds and then 3D print larger copies to better display theirunique morphologies to students.”

Dr Allavena believes educational displays are just the first step for 3Dprinting in veterinary science.“Beyond veterinary education, 3D printing isnow starting to be used to treat animals, particularly in surgicalapplications,” she said.

“I know of a dog that had most of its skull removed due to a cancer, then hada custom-made 3D printed titanium plate implanted.

“And surgeons are creating unique 3D bone models for animals requiringsurgery, in order to plan and practice a procedure before it’s conducted.

“3D printing will help us inspire future vets, create better educationaloutcomes for veterinary students and lead to happier, healthier animals.”

_Interactive 3D renderings are available online. Brachycephalic dogskull:http://bit.ly/2JwVA29. Regular canine skull: http://bit.ly/2HoWPgW. _

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