Rowena Mary Anne Packer

Rowena Mary Anne Packer
Royal Veterinary College | RVC · Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences

BSc (Hons) PhD PGCert (VetEd) FHEA

About

103
Publications
66,993
Reads
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1,774
Citations
Citations since 2017
68 Research Items
1613 Citations
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Introduction
My main area of expertise is companion animal behaviour and welfare, with my research primarily focusing upon chronic disease and its impact on behaviour, cognition and welfare. Alongside this, I am interested in the attitudes, knowledge and behaviour of companion animal owners and how they impact upon canine welfare, and how we can help current and prospective owners make better decisions about companion animals.
Additional affiliations
July 2020 - July 2020
Royal Veterinary College
Position
  • Lecturer
April 2017 - June 2020
Royal Veterinary College
Position
  • Fellow
January 2014 - March 2017
Royal Veterinary College
Position
  • Clinical Investigations Postdoctoral Researcher
Education
October 2009 - October 2013
Royal Veterinary College
Field of study
  • Animal Welfare
September 2006 - July 2009
University of Bristol
Field of study
  • Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Publications

Publications (103)
Article
Full-text available
Do dog owners perceive the clinical signs related to conformational inherited disorders as 'normal' for the breed? A potential constraint to improving canine welfare Abstract Selection for brachycephalic (foreshortened muzzle) phenotypes in dogs is a major risk factor for brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). Clinical signs include res...
Article
Full-text available
The domestic dog may be the most morphologically diverse terrestrial mammalian species known to man; pedigree dogs are artificially selected for extreme aesthetics dictated by formal Breed Standards, and breed-related disorders linked to conformation are ubiquitous and diverse. Brachycephaly-foreshortening of the facial skeleton-is a discrete mutat...
Article
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Widespread media reports suggest that unusually high numbers of the public purchased, or sought to purchase, puppies following the first ‘lockdown’ phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, dubbed “Pandemic Puppies”. This study aimed to explore this phenomenon by comparing pre-purchase motivations and behaviours, and purchase behaviours of UK owner...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Idiopathic epilepsy is a common neurological condition in dogs. Previous research has focused on clinical aspects of seizure management in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy with little attention given to the emotional and logistical challenges for their owners. The current study aimed to explore the impacts of owning a dog with idiopathic ep...
Article
Full-text available
Brachycephalic breeds are proliferating internationally, with dramatic rises in popularity juxtaposed with common and severe breed-related health problems. Physical appearance is as a dominant factor attracting owners to brachycephalic breeds; however, whether these owners will choose their current breed for future ownership and develop ‘breed-loya...
Article
Full-text available
Brachycephalic dog breeds are highly popular, yet their conformation-related disorders represent a major welfare concern. It has been suggested that the current popularity of such breeds can be explained by their cute, infant-like facial appearances. The concept of ‘kindchenschema’ refers to the observation that certain physical features of infant...
Article
Background: Idiopathic epilepsy is a prevalent canine condition that can be challenging to manage. A positive vet-owner relationship contributes to satisfaction and compliance, but its impact on management is unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate owner perspectives about the impact of veterinary surgeons on decision making and manageme...
Article
Full-text available
Consumption of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) has been shown to improve seizure control, reduce behavioural comorbidities and improve cognitive function in epileptic dogs. However, the exact metabolic pathways affected by dietary MCT remain poorly understood. In this study, we aimed to identify changes in the metabolome and neurotransmitters leve...
Article
Full-text available
The oral palatability of functional foods such as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) play a crucial role in owner and patient compliance when used as an adjunct in the management of health conditions such as epilepsy. Despite the promising benefits, the palatability of MCT has not undergone a more recent evaluation in dogs. The aim of this study was...
Article
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Background The English Bulldog has risen sharply in popularity over the past decade but its distinctive and extreme conformation is linked to several serious health conditions. Using multivariable analysis of anonymised veterinary clinical data from the VetCompass Programme, this study compared the odds of common disorders between English Bulldogs...
Article
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Background: Demand for intentional crosses of purebred dog breeds, often labelled 'designer crossbreeds' (e.g., Labrador Retriever X Poodle, the 'Labradoodle'), has recently increased in the UK. This study aimed to explore this phenomenon by comparing pre-purchase motivations, pre-purchase and purchase behaviours of UK owners of designer crossbred...
Article
Full-text available
Plain English summary Pugs have become phenomenally popular in the UK over recent decades. The breed has a flat-faced look (brachycephalic) that many humans find highly attractive and ‘cute’ but this flat face is also linked to several serious health problems. Consequently, there is growing concern about the welfare issues associated with the popul...
Article
Full-text available
Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disease in humans and dogs. Epilepsy is thought to be caused by an imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission. Intact neurotransmitters are transported from the central nervous system to the periphery, from where they are subsequently excreted through the urine. In human medicine, non-i...
Article
Full-text available
The UK recorded sharp rises in puppy purchasing during the 2020 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many first-time dog owners purchasing puppies to improve their mental health during this challenging period. Government restrictions on movement and social interaction during the pandemic led to animal welfare concerns over puppies’ reduced time-sen...
Article
Background: Idiopathic epilepsy (IE) is the most common chronic neurological condition in dogs, and can be associated with interictal (between seizure) anxiety (IIA). It is unclear how owners manage their pet's IIA, including how much veterinary support they receive for it. Methods: An international online questionnaire collected data on IIA pre...
Article
Full-text available
Undesirable behaviours (UBs) in dogs are common and important issues with serious potential welfare consequences for both the dogs and their owners. This study aimed to investigate the usage of drug therapy for UBs in dogs and assess demographic risk factors for drug-prescribed UBs within the dog population under primary-care veterinary care in the...
Article
Full-text available
Assumptions about dogs’ personality are influenced by their appearance, which may lead to differences in ownership styles and subsequent canine welfare. The influence of canine appearance on observers’ emotion attributions to dogs remains largely unexplored. This study investigated whether canine head shape is related to how both dog owners and non...
Article
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Background The French Bulldog is a highly popular dog breed but is linked with many serious health issues. A holistic view of breed health in French Bulldogs would assist efforts to appreciate the overall health strengths and weaknesses in the French Bulldog and to take appropriate steps to mitigate these. Based on random sampling of French Bulldog...
Book
Health and welfare issues of brachycephalic (flat-faced) animals are one of the most pressing problems facing companion animals right now. Dogs, in particular, are suffering from a ‘brachycephalic crisis’ resulting from a perfect storm where predispositions to an array of health issues are amplified by a population boom for certain brachycephalic b...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disease in dogs that adversely affects the quality of life (QoL) of affected dogs and their owners. Research on epilepsy in dogs is expanding internationally, but where best to focus limited research time, funds, and expertise to achieve better outcomes for affected dogs and their owners...
Article
Full-text available
The loss of a pet can be particularly distressing for owners, whether the method of death is euthanasia or is unassisted. Using primary-care clinical data, this study aimed to report the demographic and clinical factors associated with euthanasia, relative to unassisted death, in dogs. Method of death (euthanasia or unassisted) and clinical cause o...
Article
Full-text available
Background Canine idiopathic epilepsy (IE) is the most common chronic neurological brain disease in dogs, yet it can only be diagnosed by exclusion of all other potential causes. In people, epilepsy has been associated with a reduction in brain volume. The objective was to estimate the volume of the forebrain (FB), subarachnoid space (SAS) and late...
Preprint
Full-text available
The loss of a pet can be particularly distressing for owners, whether the method of death is euthanasia or is unassisted. Using primary-care clinical data, this study aimed to report the demographic and clinical factors associated with euthanasia, relative to unassisted death, in dogs. Method of death (euthanasia or unassisted) and clinical cause o...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Poor medication compliance by human epilepsy patients is one of the leading causes of treatment failure and increased seizure frequency. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to analyse owner compliance in pharmacological treatment of canine idiopathic epilepsy and to identify factors associated with poor compliance. Methods: The...
Article
Full-text available
Background Idiopathic epilepsy is a common neurological condition in dogs. Previous research has focused on clinical aspects of seizure management in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy with little attention given to the emotional and logistical challenges for their owners. The current study aimed to explore the impacts of owning a dog with idiopathic ep...
Article
Objective Cognitive impairments (CI) have recently been identified in canine epilepsy patients. A medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) enriched diet has been demonstrated to improve cognition in aged dogs and seizure control in canine epilepsy. This study evaluates the short-term effects of MCT-oil consumption on cognitive abilities in dogs with epileps...
Article
Full-text available
Idiopathic epilepsy (IE) is the most common chronic neurological condition in dogs, characterised by recurrent seizure activity and associated with negative behavioural and cognitive changes. We hypothesised that IE would negatively impact putative affective state, with dogs with IE exhibiting a more pessimistic judgement bias and more negative att...
Article
Full-text available
Brachycephalic dog breeds are regularly asserted as being less healthy than non-brachycephalic breeds. Using primary-care veterinary clinical data, this study aimed to identify predispositions and protections in brachycephalic dogs and explore differing inferences between univariable and multivariable results. All disorders during 2016 were extract...
Article
Background: To evaluate whether clinical features from the history, presentation, physical and neurological examination of dogs with cervical hyperaesthesia are statistically predictive of the underlying diagnosis. Methods: Two hundred and ninety-eight dogs presenting with cervical hyperaesthesia between January 2010 and October 2018 were invest...
Article
A new study by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has identified pre-seizure behavioural changes and potential seizure triggers that may help owners predict when a seizure is going to occur. The RVC’s animal behaviour scientist Dr Rowena Packer explains.
Article
A new study by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has identified pre-seizure behavioural changes and potential seizure triggers that may help owners predict when a seizure is going to occur. The RVC's animal behaviour scientist Dr Rowena Packer explains.
Article
Background Canine idiopathic epilepsy (IE) is characterised by recurrent seizure activity, which can appear unpredictable and uncontrollable. The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential for seizure prediction in dogs by exploring owner-perceived seizure prediction abilities and identifying owner-reported prodromal changes (long-term...
Article
Full-text available
Background Medium‐chain triglyceride (MCT) enriched diet has a positive effect on seizure control and behavior in some dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE). Objective To evaluate the short‐term efficacy of MCTs administered as an add‐on dietary supplement (DS) to a variable base diet to assess seizure control and antiseizure drug's (ASD) adverse eff...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The Chihuahua, the world's smallest dog breed, is a popular breed in the UK today. The VetCompass™ Programme collates de-identified clinical records from primary-care veterinary practices in the UK for epidemiological research. This study aimed to characterise the demography, age at death and common disorders of Chihuahuas under primar...
Article
Background Breed-specific and broader cohort studies have shown behavioural changes in dogs following the onset of idiopathic epilepsy (IE). Methods A cross-sectional, case–control questionnaire study was carried out to strengthen this body of evidence. Owners of eight breeds of dog completed an online questionnaire about their dogs’ behaviour; on...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Although thoracic hemivertebra can cause neurological signs, they occur commonly in neurologically normal dogs. Objectives: To evaluate whether computed tomography (CT) findings and factors associated with signalment can be used to differentiate between dogs with and without neurological signs associated with hemivertebra. Animals:...
Article
Full-text available
Popularity of brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds is increasing internationally despite well-documented intrinsic health and welfare problems associated with their conformation. Given this apparent paradox, greater understanding of the expectations and reality for brachycephalic dog owners and factors driving the dog-owner bond are needed. This...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Cats are globally popular pets and pedigree cats are increasingly prevalent, with brachycephalic breeds being the most registered breeds. How owners decide upon and acquire their cats is poorly understood. Moreover, there are growing concerns about the health and welfare of brachycephalic (BC) dogs and recent studies are raising the awa...
Article
Full-text available
The Bulldog is a popular companion breed in the UK despite widely reported disease predispositions. This study aimed to characterise the demography, mortality and common disorders of Bulldogs under veterinary care in the UK during 2013. VetCompass collates anonymised clinical data from UK primary-care veterinary practices for epidemiological resear...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Epilepsy is the most common brain disease in dogs. Recently, diets have been reported to have a positive impact on seizure activity and behaviour in various species including dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE). Historically, classic high fat ketogenic diets (KD) and medium chain triglycerides (MCT) KD have been successfully used to man...
Article
Full-text available
Hair is an emerging biological matrix in which to measure chronic HPA axis activity, offering a longer term view into an animal’s life. We explored effects of exogenous (e.g. lifestyle, medications, social environment) and endogenous (e.g. disease, behaviour) stressors on hair cortisol concentration (HCC) in a population of Border Collies (BCs). Ow...
Article
Full-text available
Epilepsy is a common, complex and often challenging neurological disorder to treat in the dog, with 20–30% of dogs resistant to conventional medical therapies, and associated with cognitive and behavioral comorbidities and early death. Behavioral interventions are an emerging area of focus in the adjunctive treatment of drug-resistant human epileps...
Article
The study objective was to compare temporal-spatial and kinetic gait variables in neurologically normal French bulldogs with and without vertebral kyphosis. French bulldogs presented to a dedicated brachycephalic clinic were prospectively enrolled. All dogs underwent general physical, orthopaedic, and neurological examination prior to study inclus...
Article
Objectives To design a health‐related quality of life questionnaire for dogs with congenital portosystemic shunts, use it in a cohort of dogs treated with suture attenuation and compare results with those obtained from a healthy control cohort. Materials and Methods Data were collected from the hospital records of dogs treated with suture ligation...
Chapter
This book contains 15 chapters on biological limits of domestic animals. Topics discuses are: use new genetic technologies and animal breeding methods carefully to avoid problems (introduction); domestication to Dolly and beyond (a brief history of animal modification); good for whom (differences between human and animal enhancement); working equid...
Article
Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disorder in dogs. Some diets have been shown to have a positive impact upon the seizure activity in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE), while other diets and dietary supplements (DS), although marketed as providing health benefits, lack conclusive scientific evidence on their actual beneficial effect...
Article
Psychiatric comorbidities affect a large percentage of people with epilepsy and have a detrimental impact on their quality of life. Recently, behavioural comorbidities, with similar characteristics to human psychiatric diseases, have been identified in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. In particular, behaviours motivated by the fear–anxiety emotional...
Article
Full-text available
Background Despite its Gallic name, the French Bulldog is a breed of both British and French origin that was first recognised by The Kennel Club in 1906. The French Bulldog has demonstrated recent rapid rises in Kennel Club registrations and is now (2017) the second most commonly registered pedigree breed in the UK. However, the breed has been repo...
Article
In humans, epilepsy can induce or accelerate cognitive impairment (CI). There is emerging evidence of CI in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE) from recent epidemiological studies. The aim of our study was to assess CI in dogs with IE using two tests of cognitive dysfunction designed for use in a clinical setting. Dogs with IE (n=17) were compared a...
Article
Full-text available
Changes in the popularity of cat breeds are largely driven by human perceptions of, and selection for, phenotypic traits including skull morphology. The popularity of breeds with altered skull shapes appears to be increasing, and owner preferences are an important part of this dynamic. This study sought to establish how and why a range of phenotypi...
Article
Full-text available
Globally, epilepsy is a common serious brain disorder. In addition to seizure activity, epilepsy is associated with cognitive impairments including static cognitive impairments present at onset, progressive seizure-induced impairments and co-morbid dementia. Epilepsy occurs naturally in domestic dogs but its impact on canine cognition has yet to be...
Article
Full-text available
Background Although thoracic vertebral malformations with kyphosis and scoliosis are often considered incidental findings on diagnostic imaging studies of screw-tailed brachycephalic breeds, they have been suggested to interfere with spinal biomechanics and intervertebral disc degeneration. It is however unknown if an abnormal spinal curvature also...
Article
Full-text available
Background Breed-related health problems in dogs have received increased focus over the last decade. Responsibility for causing and/or solving these problems has been variously directed towards dog breeders and kennel clubs, the veterinary profession, welfare scientists, owners, regulators, insurance companies and the media. In reality, all these s...
Article
Epilepsy and anti-epileptic drug (AED) treatment have been found to induce or exacerbate underlying cognitive impairments in people, affecting learning ability, attention and memory. Idiopathic epilepsy (IE) is the most common chronic neurological condition in dogs. Whether IE impairs cognition, which may be reflected in affected dogs’ trainability...
Article
Objectives: To report the long-term bile acid stimulation test results for dogs that have undergone complete suture ligation of a single congenital extrahepatic portosystemic shunt. Materials and methods: Data were collected from the hospital records of all dogs that had undergone a complete suture ligation of a single congenital extrahepatic po...
Article
We sought to to identify the association between clinical risk factors and the diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy (IE) or structural epilepsy (SE) in cats, using statistical models to identify combinations of discrete parameters from the patient signalment, history and neurological examination findings that could suggest the most likely diagnosis. Da...
Article
How and why dog owners select a specific breed may impact upon the health of the dog they acquire, and upon the wider health of the breed they select. Brachycephalic breeds are rapidly increasing in popularity despite increasing evidence linking brachycephalism with chronic and severe health conditions. This study used a questionnaire to explore pr...
Article
There is a complex bidirectional relationship between stress and epilepsy. Stressful stimuli and subsequent cortisol release act as a trigger for seizure activity in some individuals with epilepsy, and seizure activity itself may act as a stressor to the affected individual. Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological condition in domestic dog...
Article
Full-text available
Background Behavioural changes associated with idiopathic epilepsy (IE) have been identified in dogs, with fear and anxiety-related problems seen in both drug-naïve dogs and dogs treated with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Treating anxiety-related behaviour in dogs with IE may be challenging, as seizures are a contraindication for many conventional a...
Article
Context: Vets rely upon owner reports of seizures to diagnose epilepsy and assess treatment outcomes. As such, accurate reports of seizure frequency are of importance, with underestimations potentially jeopardising patient quality of life (QoL) due to undertreatment. Focal seizures (FS) are a common feature in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE); ho...
Article
Full-text available
Background Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) represents a major problem in the Dachshund, with at a relative risk of IVDD 10–12 times higher than other breeds, and an estimated 19–24 % of Dachshunds showing clinical signs related to IVDD during their lifetime. A variety of genetic, physical and lifestyle-related risk factors for IVDD have previous...