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Abstract

Despite the advancements in the field of veterinary behaviour medicine, problem behaviours remain a leading cause for canine relinquishment and euthanasia in the UK and so should be of concern to veterinary professionals. This review aimed to critically evaluate the literature on the perceptions of the veterinary care team, including the veterinary practitioner and the veterinary nurse, of their roles in canine behaviour medicine. Additionally, the review discussed barriers to the delivery of behavioural medicine in practice and subsequently examined the benefits of applying a behaviour-centered approach to care. Despite revisions to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons curricula, inadequate behavioural training during undergraduate studies was identified as a primary barrier to the provision of behaviour support in practice by veterinarians and veterinary nurses. Furthermore, veterinary professionals frequently identified a lack of time to discuss, educate and diagnose behavioural problems. However, should the barriers to the provision of behavioural medicine be addressed, current literature suggests that the benefits of applying behaviour medicine to practice may include financial growth for the practice, workplace safety, improved perception from clients and ultimately improved animal welfare.

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Low stress animal handling approaches to veterinary inpatient care have been recommended to reduce the adverse effects of veterinary visits on patient health and wellbeing and improve staff safety. Evidence examining the utilization of low stress handling techniques (LSHT) within the UK is limited. The aim of this study was to identify the reported prevalence of compliance with LSHT guidelines recommended by key organisations which promote welfare-friendly veterinary practice. A cross-sectional, observational, descriptive online survey was utilized. The survey was distributed by email to all veterinary practices meeting the inclusion criteria and consenting to being contacted for market research purposes. Using 4-point Likert-type questions, veterinary professionals were asked to identify how often they believed their practice complied with 74 LSHT guidelines across seven themes. The recommendations were derived from four reputable welfare organisations. Of 1,012 contactable veterinary practices, 91 (9%) responded. Based on number of statements within a theme that most respondents answered always/regularly. Practices appeared to utilize LSHT’s in the practice waiting room, consultations, inpatient care and practice ethos. Less adherence to LSHT were shown in the wards, updating of patient records and in client education. Lack of provision of client literature was a noticeable reported weakness across a range of indices and topics. Practice membership of the International Society for Feline Medicine ‘Cat friendly’ scheme had small but significant positive effects across several themes. In conclusion, the apparent utilization of LSHT, facilities and equipment varies across dimensions and potential explanations for this are discussed in the context of animal welfare.
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On 23 March 2020, the UK Government imposed a nationwide lockdown as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This study aimed to explore how the experience of dog ownership in the UK was impacted during this lockdown. Data for this research came from open-ended survey questions and an electronic diary completed by members of the general public and participants involved in “Generation Pup”, an ongoing longitudinal cohort study of dogs. A total of 10,510 free-text entries were analysed. Three major themes emerged: spending time at home with dog(s), walking practices, and behaviour and training. Owners valued having more time than usual with their dog(s) but also recognised that spending extra time with their dog(s) may negatively impact on the dog’s future ability to cope when left alone. However, very few owners provided alone time for their dog(s) during the lockdown. The opportunity to walk their dog(s) as part of their permitted daily exercise was regarded positively, but walks under the lockdown guidelines were not always felt to be adequate with respect to providing sufficient exercise and opportunities for interaction with other dogs. Owners reported observing new undesirable behaviours in their dog(s) during the lockdown, including barking and dogs being “clingy” or vocalising when briefly left alone. Based on these findings, we suggest intervention strategies to best support dog welfare that include helping dog owners to teach dogs to cope with being alone, even if owners do not need to leave their dogs alone.
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Background Despite extensive research, many questions remain unanswered about common problems that impact dog welfare, particularly where there are multiple contributing factors that can occur months or years before the problem becomes apparent. The Generation Pup study is the first longitudinal study of dogs that recruits pure- and mixed-breed puppies, aiming to investigate the relative influence of environmental and genetic factors on a range of health and behaviour outcomes, (including separation related behaviour, aggression to familiar/unfamiliar people or dogs and obesity). This paper describes the study protocol in detail. Methods Prior to commencing recruitment of puppies, the study infrastructure was developed, and subject specialists were consulted to inform data collection methodology. Questionnaire content and timepoint(s) for data collection for outcomes and potential predictors were chosen with the aim of providing the best opportunity of achieving the aims of the study, subject to time and funding constraints. Recruitment of puppies (< 16 weeks, or < 21 weeks of age if entering the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland through quarantine) is underway. By 23 January 2020, 3726 puppies had been registered, with registration continuing until 10,000 puppies are recruited. Data collection encompasses owner-completed questionnaires issued at set timepoints throughout the dog’s life, covering aspects such as training, diet, exercise, canine behaviour, preventative health care, clinical signs and veterinary intervention. Owners can elect to submit additional data (health cards completed by veterinary professionals, canine biological samples) and/or provide consent for access to veterinary clinical notes. Incidence and breed associations will be calculated for conditions for which there is currently limited information (e.g. separation related behaviour). Multivariable statistical analysis will be conducted on a range of outcomes that occur throughout different life stages, with the aim of identifying modifiable risk factors that can be used to improve canine health and welfare. Discussion The Generation Pup project is designed to identify associations between early-life environment, genotypic make-up and outcomes at different life stages. Modifiable risk factors can be used to improve canine health and welfare. Research collaboration with subject specialists is welcomed and already underway within the fields of orthopaedic research, epilepsy, epigenetics and canine impulsivity.
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Initial COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom (23rd March–12th May 2020) prompted lifestyle changes for many people. We explored the impact of this lockdown phase on pet dogs using an online survey completed by 6004 dog owners, who provided information including dog management data for the 7 days prior to survey completion (4th–12th May 2020), and for February 2020 (pre-lockdown). We explored associations between potential predictors and four outcomes relating to changes pre-/during lockdown (reduction in number and duration of walks; increased frequency of play/training, and provision of toys). Most owners (79.5%) reported their dog’s routine had changed compared to pre-lockdown. There was a four-fold increase in the proportion not left alone for >5 min on any day during a weekly period (14.6% pre-lockdown, 58.0% during lockdown), with the proportion being left for ≥3 h at a time decreasing from 48.5% to 5.4%. Dogs were walked less often and for less time daily during lockdown, with factors related to the dog, owner, household, and home location associated with changes to walking practices. Many dogs had more play/training sessions and were given toys more frequently during lockdown. Decreased walk duration was associated with increased odds of play/training opportunities and toy provision. These changes to dog management have the potential for immediate and longer-term welfare problems.
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Problem behaviours may lead to compromised welfare, risk of relinquishment and euthanasia for dogs, as well as distress and safety issues for owners. This study used data provided by 1111 UK and Republic of Ireland participants in the ‘Generation Pup’ longitudinal study of canine health and behaviour. The aims were to; i) identify the proportion and type of problem behaviours reported by owners when their dogs were 6 and 9-months; ii) identify risk factors for behaviours owners reported as a ‘problem’ when their dog was 9-months old; iii) identify risk factors for behaviours reported to occur but not recorded as a ‘problem’ by owners when dogs were 9-months old; and iv) identify whether and how owners sought help for undesired behaviours. In the 6 and 9-months questionnaires, 31 % and 35 % (respectively) of owners reported their dog to be showing behaviour(s) that they found a problem. Owners most often sought help for these behaviours from dog trainers (72 % at 6-months and 68 % at 9-months), and online sources excluding those associated with welfare organisations (which were listed separately) (34 % at 6-months and 27 % at 9-months). The most commonly reported problem behaviours at both ages were pulling on the lead, jumping up at people and poor recall. Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that female owners, owners who were unemployed/homemakers/pensioners/retired, owners who did not attend (nor planned to attend) puppy classes, and owners who reported they used a mixture of positive reinforcement and positive punishment or positive punishment only training methods at 9-months had increased odds of reporting a problem behaviour in their dogs at that age. Further investigation determined risk factors for owners reporting one or more of the three most commonly reported problem behaviours (pulling on the lead, jumping up at people and poor recall) in their dog’s 9-months questionnaire compared with those owners who separately recorded the occurrence of these behaviours, but did not report any to be problematic. Owners who were employed/self-employed/students, owners who reported that they used positive reinforcement only, owners that had not attended puppy class, and owners of small dogs had increased odds of not reporting a behaviour to be problematic despite evidence of the behaviour having been observed by the owner. These results indicate that not all potentially concerning canine behaviours were perceived by the owners to be problematic, and has identified groups of owners more likely to require support with behaviour issues in their dogs.
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Background Companion animal behaviour problems significantly impact companion animal (and owner) welfare. Veterinary behavioural medicine (VBM) is an emerging discipline and aims to provide evidence-based advice to owners and veterinary professionals to support normal behaviour in companion animals through appropriate socialisation and training and to address behaviour problems in a constructive and welfare-friendly manner. The approach to problem behaviours in dogs has changed in recent years; previously a mis-understanding of the biological theory of dominance has been used to explain certain behavioural problems in dogs which has led to the use of punishment-based treatment methods. Current research advocates the benefits of reward-based methods and highlights the risks of implementing positive punishment-based training techniques to both dogs and owners. Golden and Hanlon (Ir Vet J 71: 12, 2018) have reported that veterinary professionals in Ireland are frequently asked to advise on dog behaviour problems. This study aimed to explore veterinary professionals’ understanding of training and treatment options for frequently encountered dog behaviour problems, and to help support the development of competences in VBM in Ireland. Methods An online survey was developed, including a pre-test evaluation by a pilot group of veterinary professionals, on SurveyMonkey®. The link to the online survey was distributed via third-party professional associations and social media. The survey contained twelve vignettes illustrating advice from veterinary professionals on common behaviour scenarios. Using a Likert Scale, respondents were asked to assess the likelihood of the advice to support best outcome for the dog. Best outcome was defined as one which provides a resolution to the behavioural problem while not compromising the animal’s welfare. Results 84 private veterinary practitioners (PVP) and 133 veterinary nurses (VN) completed the survey. In the majority of vignettes, most veterinary professionals agreed with our classification of best outcome, but several areas of uncertainty were identified. Marked variations in response were found for PVPs in vignettes depicting advice recommending citronella collars, invisible radio fences, trainers utilising dominance language, and another dog for separation anxiety. For VNs, variations in response were found in vignettes depicting dominance-based training and advice on separation anxiety. Significant differences were found in the responses of VNs and PVPs for the vignettes recommending the use of citronella collars (p < 0.01) and invisible radio fences (p < 0.05), where VNs agreed with their recommendation less often than PVPs. PVPs graduating since 2013 agreed with the recommendation of invisible radio fences less often than PVPs graduating before 2013 (p < 0.05). VNs graduating before 2013 agreed with the recommendation of an accredited trainer (p < 0.05) and disagreed with the use of flooding to treat fear (p < 0.05) more often than VNs graduating since 2013. Conclusions Our findings have identified specific areas of uncertainty with regards knowledge of positive punishment-based training and the treatment of common dog behaviour problems, highlighted the demand for continuing professional education in VBM and provided further evidence of the need to develop day one competences in VBM for veterinary medicine and nursing programmes at university level. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s13620-019-0139-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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Background Veterinary behaviour medicine should be a foundation subject of the veterinary curriculum because of its wide scope of applications to veterinary practice. Private practitioners are likely to be the primary source of information on animal behaviour for most pet owners, however studies indicate that behavioural issues are not frequently discussed during companion animal consultations and many practitioners lack confidence in dealing with behavioural problems, likely due to poor coverage of this subject in veterinary education. There is a need to identify learning outcomes to support day one competences in veterinary behaviour medicine and these should be informed by practice-based evidence. This study aimed to investigate the nature and frequency of behavioural queries experienced by veterinary professionals in Ireland, the provision of behavioural services at companion animal practices, behaviour referral practices and challenges associated with providing a behaviour service. Methods Two online surveys were developed, one for private veterinary practitioners (PVP) and one for veterinary nurses (VN). Invitations to participate were distributed using contact details from the Premises Accreditation Scheme database on the Veterinary Council of Ireland website. Thirty-eight PVPs and 69 VNs completed the survey. Results Results indicated that less than half of companion animal practices offer behavioural consults and under a third of practices provide training and socialization events. Over half of the practices surveyed have referred cases to a behavioural specialist. The majority of respondents encountered behavioural queries weekly. Ninety-eight percent reported receiving queries regarding dog behaviour. Toilet training and unruly behaviour were two issues encountered frequently. Behavioural issues in cats were also common. House soiling and destructive behaviour were the problems most frequently encountered by respondents. The two most commonly cited barriers to providing behavioural consultations were lack of in-house or personal expertise, and that clients were not willing to pay for these services. Furthermore over half of all veterinary professionals surveyed indicated that they had received inadequate undergraduate training in veterinary behaviour medicine. Conclusions Behavioural problems in companion animals can affect the quality of life of pets and their owners. Our survey findings indicate that many veterinary professionals frequently encounter behavioural problems and identify an opportunity for improved provision in behaviour medicine in veterinary education. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1186/s13620-018-0123-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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As veterinarians, we support not only our patients but also the millions of humans who share their lives with animals. Veterinarians and their colleagues are accustomed to being reminded that the veterinary profession is built on human connections with animals, and we recognize that the human-animal bond is important in all settings. In terms of academic theory and practical application, however, the human-animal bond approach is most advanced in the area of companion animals. The benefits of promoting the human-animal bond in companion animal practice are, by now, quite clear. It has, for example, been shown that the bond between owners and their pets has an important influence on the care those pets receive, that owners who have the strongest bonds with their pets are more likely to accept health-care recommendations from their veterinarian, and that highly bonded owners visit their veterinarian more often and are more likely to seek preventive care. For veterinarians in companion animal practice, however, it can sometimes be unclear how the human-animal bond can be incorporated into everyday practice activities. For those veterinarians, focusing on client communication and animal handling provides practical methods for emphasizing the human-animal bond.
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Veterinarians are professionals considered to be at the forefront of animal welfare, including behaviour medicine. However, concerns raised, both within the profession and without, highlight that the support offered is not optimal, due to deficiencies in veterinary training, which focuses on physical aspects and overlooks psychological aspects. This preliminary study explored the experiences and perceptions of six veterinarians (three male, three female, age range: 23-55 years) in two UK small-animal practices. Seventeen annual booster consultations were videoed and conversations thematically analysed for welfare topics discussed. Both veterinarians and clients completed questionnaires to gather demographic information and perspectives. All veterinarians recognised behaviour as a component of their caseload, and acknowledged that clients expected them to provide behaviour support. Veterinarians varied in their experiences of and confidence in providing behaviour support. Five felt unable to meet client expectations; four did not feel their training had prepared them sufficiently. Only one provided dedicated behaviour consultations, the others referred cases. All provided suggestions for behaviour skills needed for new veterinary graduates. The study has afforded an insight into the experiences of a small opportunistic sample of veterinarians. The data indicated important limitations regarding time available in general consultations to discuss behaviour concerns, and practitioner knowledge and skill in detection, anamnesis, assessment and provision of appropriate behaviour information. Suggestions for veterinary training in behaviour are provided.
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The veterinary profession recently acknowledged its responsibility to provide behaviour support, following criticism for focussing on the physiological aspects of welfare and overlooking the psychological. To further understand the practising of behavioural medicine, a 'fly-on-the-wall' approach was used to investigate welfare discussions during dog booster vaccinations. Seventeen consultations involving six veterinarians in two UK small-animal practices were videoed. Qualitative methods were used to analyse themes discussed and questionnaires completed to obtain participant information and perceptions. Five main topics of discussion were identified: navigation, medical, husbandry, behaviour and cost. Veterinarians led the discussion of all topics except behaviour which was instigated approximately equally by veterinarian and client. All clients reported one or more behaviours that were a concern to them, totalling 58 across the sample. Disconcertingly, only 10 were discussed during consultations and none fully explored nor managed beyond the consultation. Behaviour discussion varies between veterinarians; this may reflect their experience, confidence or clients' requests. Owners access welfare information from a variety of sources, not always from veterinarians. Where sources are not knowledgeable, both human and animal welfare can be seriously compromised. Veterinarians need to ensure that clients are enabled to discuss behaviour issues and are provided with appropriate support, be that in-house or via referral.
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An enquiry into the requirement of a university veterinary behaviour clinic in The Netherlands revealed that there is a clear call for such a service. The specific demands and wishes of first line practicing veterinarians and companion animal owners were investigated. The research revealed that veterinarians are regular confronted with behaviour problems in companion animals and that they are willing to refer these cases to the University. They also expressed their need for access to continuing professional development opportunities in the field of veterinary behavioural medicine (which is something that most veterinary behaviour clinics associated with veterinary faculties provide). The demand from companion animal owners was also examined. It can be concluded that a large number of them had animals with behaviour problems and that they were willing to seek veterinary advice on these matters. In response to the above mentioned demands the University of Utrecht will open a veterinary behaviour clinic, providing high quality service for animals, their owners and the referring veterinarians. This service will be based on sound scientific practice and delivered by both veterinarians specialised in this field and recognised animal behaviour therapists.
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Knowledge of animal behavior is an extremely important component of modern veterinary practice. Appreciation of species-typical behavior helps to ensure that veterinary patients are handled safely and humanely, and plays a pivotal role in the diagnosis of health and welfare problems in animals, including the recognition of pain and distress. Veterinary students who acquire a good understanding of animal behavior will be better clinicians and will be best able to promote and repair the "human-animal bond," that important connection between people and their pets. Animal behavior problems can negatively impact this critical relationship, leading to abandonment, re-homing, relinquishment to an animal shelter, and sometimes premature euthanasia of the animal. Therefore, identifying, preventing, and treating behavior problems is important in maintaining the human-animal bond. Education in animal behavior should be an essential part of the veterinary curriculum; a board-certified veterinary behaviorist should be an integral member of the veterinary college faculty.
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To survey veterinarians in small animal practice concerning their attitudes about delivery of behavior services, frequency of common behavior problems, manner in which services were provided, confidence in their clinical ability to treat these behavior problems, frequency of use of pharmacologic intervention, and number of dogs and cats euthanatized specifically because of behavior problems. Cross-sectional mail survey. Random sample of veterinarians in small animal practice in the United States. A self-administered mail survey was sent to a random sample of 2,000 veterinarians. Results were tabulated and statistically analyzed. It was estimated that approximately 224,000 dogs and cats were euthanatized annually in small animal veterinary practices in the United States because of behavior problems. Although veterinarians seemed unwilling to euthanatize animals for behavior problems solely on the basis of a client's request, many veterinarians did not routinely inquire about animal behavior and often were not confident in their clinical skills to treat behavior problems. Female veterinarians tended to be more proactive in addressing behavior problems and to have more positive attitudes than male veterinarians about the importance of animal behavior. Efforts are needed to increase the number of veterinarians who systematically incorporate inquiries about animal behavior into routine clinical practice and to build the confidence of veterinarians for diagnosing and treating animal behavior problems.
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Despite the need for evidence-based advice regarding the behavioural health of their companion animals, owners may struggle to realise that this advice can be readily accessed from their veterinary practice. Many veterinary clients still rely, instead, on popular misconceptions perpetuated by the media and other pet owners. Furthering this problem is the reticence of some veterinary professionals to become involved in queries about patient behaviour, as they feel ill equipped to support the client and patient. This article forms part of a species-specific series of articles, intended to provide basic behavioural guidance that can be delivered by practice staff. This specific article focuses on enabling any veterinary practice to give basic support for the emotional and behavioural needs of their canine patients.
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Background: The veterinary practice can be a stressful environment for pets. The stress animals experience when visiting the practice can impact on health, welfare and the likelihood of owners regularly visiting the practice. A number of different approaches have been suggested to be beneficial in reducing stress at the veterinary practice however the methods that practices use to try and reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits, and the reasons for the use of these approaches, has not been determined. Aim: The aim of this study was to determine what methods veterinary practices in the UK use to try to reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits, and gather the views of veterinary staff on the efficacy of these practices. Method: Veterinary practices in the UK (n=45) completed an online mixed methods questionnaire providing information on the practice's use of separate waiting rooms, treat feeding, rehearsal visits, correct handling of animals, appeasing pheromones and sensory enrichment. The reasons why these approaches were or were not used, and the participants' views on whether these practices reduced stress during veterinary visits were also determined. Results: The majority of practices surveyed fed treats to animals during veterinary visits, offered rehearsal visits to animals and their owners, used appeasing pheromones in the practice and stated that they used correct handling techniques for different species during consultations. In addition, the majority of practices surveyed did not have more than one waiting room or use a television or auditory device to try and reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits. The majority of participants believed that separate waiting rooms, rehearsal visits, treat feeding, appeasing pheromones, sensory enrichment and correct handling can reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits. Conclusion: A range of methods are used by veterinary practices within the UK to attempt to reduce stress in animals during veterinary visits. Greater consideration of methods to facilitate separation of species where distinct waiting rooms are not feasible, for example via implementing appointments for cats and dogs on different days and times, would be beneficial. In addition, veterinary staff should consider utilising classical or specially designed species-specific music in the veterinary practice as this may help mitigate the stress of cats and dogs visiting the practice.
Article
Undesirable behaviours (UBs) are common in dogs and can jeopardise animal and human health, leading to dog abandonment and euthanasia. Dogs exhibiting UBs may have compromised welfare from underlying emotional motivations for the behaviour (eg anxiety) or from the methods used by owners to resolve the problem (eg aversive techniques). The objective of this study was to estimate proportional mortality due to UBs and risk factors for death due to UBs, including death from road traffic accidents, in dogs under three years of age attending primary-care veterinary practices in England from 2009-2014. Cases were identified by searching de-identified electronic patient records from primary-care veterinary practices participating in the VetCompass Programme. The findings highlight that dogs under three years of age are at a proportionately high risk of death due to UBs (33.7%) compared with other specific causes of death (eg gastrointestinal issues: 14.5%). Male dogs had 1.40× the odds of death from UB compared with females. The proportional mortality from UB for male dogs where information on the cause of death was available was 0.41. Neutered dogs had 1.94× the odds of death due to a UB compared with entire dogs. Aggression was the most prevalent UB overall. Veterinarians had recommended referral in 10.3% of cases where dogs died due to exhibiting a UB and had dispensed nutraceutical, pheromone or pharmacological treatment to 3.0% of the UB cases that died. This study shows that undesirable behaviours require better preventive measures and treatment, through further research and education of veterinarians, other professionals within the dog industry and owners.
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There are many aspects of care involved in patient-friendly practice. Veterinary professionals may utilise recognition and response to canine and feline body language and behavioural signals to affect patient-friendly practice and improve safety in the context of the veterinary environment. Visits to the veterinary clinic are potentially stress-inducing for many reasons. Stress and distress have potentially problematic physical and emotional impacts on patients, both in health and disease, and therefore recognition and pre-emption of problems could reduce the impact of escalating stress during veterinary interactions.
Article
In order to improve well-being of dogs during veterinary visits, we aimed to investigate the effect of human social interactions on behavior and physiology during routine examination. Firstly, we assessed the impact of a standardized veterinary examination on behavioral and physiological indicators of stress in dogs. Secondly, we examined whether the owner's tactile and verbal interactions with the dog influenced behavioral and physiological stress-associated parameters. A randomized within-subjects crossover design was used to examine behavior (n = 33), rectal temperature (n = 33), heart rate (HR) (n = 18), maximal ocular surface temperature (max OST) (n = 13) and salivary cortisol concentrations (n = 10) in healthy privately owned pet dogs. The study consisted of two experimental conditions: a) “contact” - owner petting and talking to the dog during the examination; b) “non-contact” - owner present during the examination but not allowed to interact with the dog. Our findings showed that the veterinary examinations produced acute stress responses in dogs during both “contact” and “non-contact” conditions, with significant increases in lip licking, HR, and max OST. A significant decrease in attempts to jump off the examination table (p = 0.002) was observed during the examination in the “contact” compared to the “non-contact” condition. In addition, interactions of owners showed an attenuating effect on HR (p = 0.018) and max OST (p = 0.011) in their dogs. The testing order (first vs. second visit) had no impact on behavioral and physiological parameters, suggesting that dogs did not habituate or sensitize to the examination procedure. Moreover, the duration of the owner-dog interactions had no significant impact on the behavioral and physiological responses of their dogs. This study demonstrates that owner-dog interactions improve the well-being of dogs during a veterinary examination. Future research may assist in further understanding the mechanisms associated with reducing stress in dogs in similar settings.
Article
Veterinary behavior has been recognized as an important component of modern practice and a valuable aspect of the core curriculum in veterinary education, yet a lack of behavior courses and clinical offerings for students exists in veterinary colleges and schools. The purpose of this study is to explore graduating veterinary students’ perception of preparedness for “day-1” of practice and the factors of the veterinary behavior curriculum which influenced that perception. An internet survey was completed by 366 graduating veterinary students at 30 different Association of American Veterinary Medical College ( AAVMC ) member institutions. The effects of responses were analyzed using logistic regression and reported as odds ratio. Gender, presence of a boarded-certified behaviorist on faculty, year behavior courses were introduced into the curriculum, contents of behavior courses, and length of teachings were compared against students’ perception of preparedness. The majority of students (76.9%) felt their veterinary clinical behavior curriculum should prepare them for “day-1” but only 26.8% felt prepared. Adequate instruction in recognizing abnormal behavior, preventing, diagnosing, and treating behavior problems, instruction by a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (DACVB), introduction of behavior courses into year one, and a course consisting of at least two weeks significantly increased the perception of preparedness among students. A stronger emphasis on veterinary behavior into every veterinary curriculum would benefit not only the graduating veterinarians and the alumni that employ them, but also the overall quality of veterinary education.
Article
Veterinarians are well placed to supervise and ensure canine welfare. However, the perception of animal welfare among veterinarians may vary depending on the level of training and professional practice, including the specialization in animal behavior and welfare. The aim of this study was to survey the perception of canine welfare among veterinarians, including students, practitioners, and behavior specialists. A scale-based questionnaire including 12 issues affecting canine welfare was adapted from Yeates and Main and distributed to first-year (n=50) and fifth-year veterinary students (n=50), as well as veterinary practitioners (n=260) and specialists in behavioral medicine (n=50). For each issue, respondents were asked to rate how much they perceived each issue to affect canine welfare (on a scale of 0 to 4). A General Linear Model test was used to assess the effect of the studied group on scores. "Physical abuse or cruelty" was the highest-scoring problem in all groups and "breed-related conditions" was the lowest. In general, specialists in behavioral medicine assigned significantly higher scores to most items, particularly "behavioral problems" and "lack of sufficient company." In contrast, fifth-year students assigned significantly lower scores to most items. This study shows that situations clearly affecting canine welfare represent an important concern for veterinarians, both undergraduates and professionals. However, the level of professional experience and specialization might influence the perception of more subtle examples of poor welfare. Raising awareness regarding canine welfare, including concern for breed- or behavior-related problems, should be emphasized within university programs.
Article
As a consequence of their physical and/or psychological effects, on-going diseases may have the potential to induce chronic stress in dogs. Chronic stress may contribute to disease progression and negatively affect welfare. By investigating whether on-going illnesses cause chronic stress in dogs and exploring the relationship between hair cortisol and potential disease-dependent and disease-independent stressors, this research aimed to determine if stress management should be integrated into veterinary care. Hair samples were collected from 33 dogs to assess cortisol levels (ill n = 16, 12 nonblack and 4 black; healthy n = 17, 12 nonblack and 5 black) using a commercially available biochemical assay. In addition, a questionnaire was distributed to the owners of these dogs to gather information on pet care, chronic stress behaviors and disease characteristics. The hair cortisol levels of black and nonblack dogs did not differ significantly (U = 89, df = 31, P = 0.442). Data were therefore pooled for further analysis. Significant differences were not found in the hair cortisol levels of chronically ill compared to healthy dogs (t = -0.655, df = 30, P = 0.517), or the number of dogs with chronic stress behaviors in each group (χ2 = 0.667, df = 1, P = 0.414). Ill dogs with disease signs or lifestyle restrictions did not have significantly different hair cortisol levels to those without them (signs: t = 0.321, df = 14, P = 0.753; lifestyle restrictions: t = 0.154, df = 14, P = 0.880). Hair cortisol was not significantly related to the number of veterinary visits (rs = -0.152, df = 31, P = 0.397). However, it was significantly correlated with the length of time regularly left alone in healthy and chronically ill dogs (rs = 0.417, df = 31, P = 0.016). In addition, the hair cortisol levels of healthy dogs were significantly correlated with time regularly left alone in single dog (rs = 0.726, df = 7, P = 0.027) but not multidog households (rs = 0.528, df = 6, P = 0.179). Further research with a larger sample size is required to confirm our findings. Nonetheless, as chronic stress may be detrimental to the health of dogs, lifestyle factors, such as the social environment and time regularly left alone, should be taken into consideration when planning canine veterinary care.
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:This article explores the importance of behavioural considerations in veterinary practice and identifies appropriate methods to find and employ a suitably qualified behaviourist. Following this it discusses the role of the behaviourist in practice and identifies easily implementable, small changes that can be made to increase behavioural awareness and explains the benefit of these in relation to the practice, owner and animal.
Article
Low-stress handling is important for the safety of the veterinary staff and for the welfare of the patient. The commitment to ensuring the emotional well-being of the patient should be equal to that shown toward the physical well-being of the animals under a veterinarian's care. Before handling animals it is essential to assess the environment and the patient's response to it. Taking the time to create a behavior handling plan makes future visits easier and bonds clients to the practice. Understanding how and when to use handling tools is key to making patient visits safer, more humane, and more efficient.
Article
Improved understanding of longevity represents a significant welfare opportunity for the domestic dog, given its unparalleled morphological diversity. Epidemiological research using electronic patient records (EPRs) collected from primary veterinary practices overcomes many inherent limitations of referral clinic, owner questionnaire and pet insurance data. Clinical health data from 102,609 owned dogs attending first opinion veterinary practices (n=86) in central and southeast England were analysed, focusing on 5095 confirmed deaths. Of deceased dogs with information available, 3961 (77.9%) were purebred, 2386 (47.0%) were female, 2528 (49.8%) were neutered and 1105 (21.7%) were insured. The overall median longevity was 12.0years (IQR 8.9-14.2). The longest-lived breeds were the Miniature poodle, Bearded collie, Border collie and Miniature dachshund, while the shortest-lived were the Dogue de Bordeaux and Great Dane. The most frequently attributed causes of death were neoplastic, musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. The results of multivariable modelling indicated that longevity in crossbred dogs exceeded purebred dogs by 1.2years (95% confidence interval 0.9-1.4; P<0.001) and that increasing bodyweight was negatively correlated with longevity. The current findings highlight major breed differences for longevity and support the concept of hybrid vigour in dogs.
Article
Identification of severe stress in hospitalized veterinary patients may improve treatment outcomes and welfare. To assess stress levels, in Study 1, we collected salivary cortisol samples and behavioral parameters in 28 healthy dogs hospitalized prior to elective procedures. Dogs were categorized into two groups; low cortisol (LC) and high cortisol (HC), based on the distribution of cortisol concentrations (< or ≥0.6 μg/dL). We constructed a stress research tool (SRT) based on three behaviors (head resting, panting and lip licking) that were most strongly related to salivary cortisol concentrations. In Study 2, we collected salivary cortisol samples from 39 additional dogs, evaluated behavior/cortisol relationships, assigned each dog to an LC or HC group, and tested the ability of the SRT to predict salivary cortisol. Median (interquartile range) salivary cortisol concentrations were not different between Study 1 (0.43 μg/dL, 0.33–1.00 μg/dL) and Study 2 dogs (0.41 μg/dL, 0.28–0.52 μg/dL). The median salivary cortisol concentration was significantly lower (P ≤ 0.001) in LC versus HC dogs in each study; (Study 1 LC: 0.38 μg/dL (0.19–0.44), n = 19, HC: 2.0 μg/dL (1.0–2.8), n = 9, and Study 2 LC: 0.35 μg/dL (0.25–0.48), n = 28, HC: 0.89 μg/dL (0.66–1.4), n = 7). In Study 1, three behaviors were found to be associated with salivary cortisol concentrations. Duration of head resting was negatively associated with salivary cortisol (ρ = −0.60, P = 0.001), panting and lip licking were positively associated with cortisol (ρ = 0.39, P = 0.04, and 0.30, P = 0.05, respectively), head resting (P = 0.001) and panting (P = 0.003) were also associated with LC/HC group assignment. In Study 2 dogs, the three behaviors correlated (but not significantly) with salivary cortisol concentration; of the three, only head resting was significantly associated with LC/HC group assignment (P = 0.03). The SRT derived from Study 1 was effective at prediction of salivary cortisol concentrations when applied to 20 min but not 2 min of behavioral data from Study 2. Additionally, we note that dexmedetomidine and butorphanol sedation more than 6 h prior to measurement was found to be significantly (P = 0.05) associated with lower salivary cortisol concentrations when compared to unsedated dogs. Our work offers support for eventual construction of a rating tool that utilizes the presence or absence of specific behaviors to identify higher salivary cortisol concentrations in dogs subjected to hospitalization, which may be tied to greater psychogenic stress levels. Future work to investigate the effects of stress on dogs and its mitigation in clinical situations may be approached by studying a combination of parameters, and should consider the possible beneficial effects of sedatives.
Article
With the increasingly advanced treatments offered in veterinary medicine, the need to evaluate not only the treatment itself but also the implications of the treatment for the welfare of the animal has become more apparent. Follow-up studies are important sources of information for veterinarians concerning the potential outcome of a treatment and some of these studies include a statement concerning the welfare of the animal involved. In veterinary medicine, the concept of animal welfare is often equated to health status, but it is important to distinguish between the success of the treatment in restricted terms, i.e. the health aspects; and the success in more global terms, i.e. how the general welfare of the animal is during and after the treatment.
Article
Four hundred and sixty-two dogs entering a veterinary clinic for routine examination were observed and subjectively classified into one of four categories: Group A, based on their apprehensive entrances and submission; Group B, based on their outgoing personalities; Group C, based on fear-biting attitudes; Group D, based on active defensive tendencies. Data collected from individuals in each group included sex, age, weight, entering behavior, urination, controllability and vocalization. On the basis of this study, 60 percent of the entering dogs were subjectively classified in Group A, and a fearful entrance, urination, and average weight of 12 kg were determined to be significant features for the group. Group B was composed of 17 percent of the dogs studies. As a group, there was a significant tendency for a willing entrance, controllability, and urination. The average weight was 18.9 kg. The fear-biting dogs of Group C totaled 18 percent of those studied. These animals exhibited aggression and vocalization when restrained. Their average weight was 6.8 kg. The last group, D, subjectively consisted of 5 percent of the animals studied. These dogs entered willingly and did not display urinary behaviors. Their average weight was 28.5 kg.
Article
Poor housing conditions, harsh training sessions and uncontrollable or unpredictable social environments are examples of the situations that may lead to reduced welfare status in dogs. Individuals that suffer from poor welfare presumably experience stress and may consequently exhibit stress responses. In order to evaluate stress responses as potential indicators of poor welfare in dogs, we review studies dealing with dogs subjected to stressors. The reported stress responses are categorized as being behavioural, physiological or immunological, and demonstrate the various ways stress is manifested in the dog.
Currently in the United Kingdom, there is no legal requirement for anyone giving advice on the training of animals or the treatment of behavioral disorders to hold a formally recognized qualification. The first professional organization in this field in the United Kingdom, the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC), was founded in 1989 with the avowed aim of promoting and developing the profession of pet behavior counseling and standardizing the service provided. Essentially a trade association to advance the interests of its members, APBC members work on veterinary referral only and are required to adhere to a code of practice. Through the activities of veterinary surgeons with a specialist interest in behavioral medicine, there have been moves to better recognize those with competencies in this area in the United Kingdom and Europe. The use by veterinarians and large animal charities of appropriate recognized specialists with accredited skills from nationally recognized bodies in the treatment of behavioral disorders-be they veterinary behaviorists or paraprofessional clinical animal behaviorists-would seem to fulfill this requirement in a way that the existing practice of using practitioners with no formally recognized qualifications or verified skills does not, and should lead to a shift and improvement in current standards of practice. If it does not, then case law will determine the extent to which such disregard is a neglect of this duty of care. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Physical and emotional stresses are known to increase the production and secretion of glucocorticoids by the adrenal cortex in both humans and experimental animals. The urinary corticoid: creatinine (C:C) ratio is increasingly used as a measure of adrenocortical function. In this study we investigated whether a visit to a veterinary practice for vaccination, a visit to a referral clinic for orthopedic examination, or hospitalization in a referral clinic for 1.5 days resulted in increases of the urinary C: C ratio in pet dogs. In experiment 1, owners collected voided urine samples from 19 healthy pet dogs at specified times before and after taking the dogs to a veterinary practice for yearly vaccination. In experiment 2, 12 pet dogs were evaluated in a similar way before and after an orthopedic examination at a referral clinic. In experiment 3, 9 healthy pet dogs were hospitalized for 1.5 days and urine samples were collected before, during, and after this stay. Basal urinary C:C ratios in all experiments ranged from 0.8 to 8.3 × 10-6. In experiment 1, the urinary C:C ratio after the visit to the veterinary practice ranged from 0.9 to 22.0 × 10-6. Six dogs had a significantly increased urinary C:C ratio (responders), but in 5 of these dogs the ratio was ≤10 × 10-6 In experiment 2. 8 of 12 dogs responded significantly with urinary C:C ratios ranging from 3.1 to 27.0 × 10-6. In experiment 3, 8 of 9 dogs had significantly increased urinary C:C ratios, ranging from 2.4 to 24.0 × 10-6, in some or all urine samples collected during hospitalization. In 4 dogs urinary C:C ratios 12 hours after hospitalization were still significantly higher than the initial values. Thus, a visit to a veterinary practice, an orthopedic examination in a referral clinic, and hospitalization can be considered stressful conditions for dogs. A large variation occurs in response, and in individual dogs the increases in urinary C:C ratios can exceed the cutoff level for the diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism. Therefore, urine samples for measurement of the C: C ratio in the diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism should be collected in the dog's home environment, to avoid the influence of stress on glucocorticoid secretion.
Article
To begin to determine the significance of various dog welfare issues as perceived by veterinary practitioners. Using an online questionnaire, respondents were asked how frequently they were made aware of 12 welfare issues and how important they felt each one was for each dog affected. Respondents were also asked how much they agreed with statements that the veterinary practitioners in their area, and the veterinary profession, should do more about each issue. Responses were received from 59 practitioners. The most frequently noted problems were "obesity", "chronic pain/poor mobility" and "breed-related conditions". The most important issues for each dog affected were "lack of treatment for suffering", "abuse or active cruelty" and "malnutrition". "Breed-related conditions", "obesity" and "behavioural problems" were the issues for which there was greatest agreement that veterinary practitioners should do more, both in their area and as a profession. This pilot study suggests that the veterinary profession believes that obesity, breed-related conditions and behavioural problems are important concerns, and that more should be done about them. Although these results cannot be taken as definitive from a study of this size, it does provide a background for such further work involving companion dog welfare and the veterinary profession.
Article
In the United Kingdom, each year many companion animal (pet) caregivers (owners) hand over dogs to shelters for rehoming. Studies conducted in the United States and Australia have shown that accommodation issues and problematic behaviors are the most common reasons for dogs to be relinquished. The purpose of this study was to provide a clearer understanding of common characteristics of relinquished dogs in the United Kingdom. A descriptive study conducted during 2005 collected data on 2,806 dogs relinquished to Dogs Trust's rehoming centers in the United Kingdom. The most common reasons for dogs to be relinquished were their problematic behaviors and their need for more attention than the owner could provide. The results of this study identify several common characteristics of relinquished dogs as well as differences between its results and those found in studies conducted in the United States and Australia. An improved knowledge of characteristics of relinquished dogs should inform the development of strategies for improved management of the rehoming process.
Article
To investigate further the occurrence of fear-related behaviour in dogs in veterinary practice and to evaluate associated factors, 135 dogs were observed under practice conditions within the framework of a standardised test examination and the owners interviewed using a questionnaire. Most dogs exhibited fear reactions, particularly on the examination table, with 78.5% (106/135) categorised as 'fearful' based on their behaviour. Unlike weight and castration, age, gender and previous experience were significantly (P<0.05) associated with fearful behaviour. Male dogs were significantly less 'fearful' than females and animals under <2 years were significantly less 'fearful' compared with older dogs. Those with only positive previous experiences in veterinary surgeries were significantly less 'fearful' than dogs that had a previous negative experience. Fear-related behaviour in veterinary practice is an issue of importance.
Article
The veterinary clinic plays a critical role in the prevention and treatment of behavior problems. If behavior problems do begin to emerge, the veterinary clinic can help determine who can advise and guide the owners most practically to improve or resolve the problem. This help might involve the veterinarian, a behavioral technician, a trained staff member, an appropriate trainer, or some combination of these persons. This article reviews how these professional roles might be integrated, depending on the complexity of the problem.
Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats. Elsevier Mosby
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Low stress handling, restraint and behavior modification of dogs and cats: techniques for developing patients who love their visits
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