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Using the incidence and impact of health conditions in guide dogs to investigate healthy ageing in working dogs

By G. Caron-Lormier, G. C. W. England, M. J. Green, L. Asher

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Abstract

This study aimed to use retirement data from working guide dogs to investigate healthy ageing in dogs and the demographic factors that influence ageing. Using a dataset of 7686 dogs spanning 20 years, dogs withdrawn for health reasons before they reached retirement were identified. Cases of retirement for old age, rather than for health reasons, were also recorded, as was the length of working life for all dogs. Specific health reasons were grouped into 14 different health categories. The influence of purebred or crossbreed, breed, and sex on the incidence of these health categories and the length of working life within each health category was considered. The majority (n=6465/7686; 84%) of working guide dogs were able to function as guide dogs until they had worked for 8.5 years, when they retired. This working life might constitute a reference for the different breeds considered, with the exception of the German shepherd dog, which had a shorter working life. The most common reason for health withdrawals was musculoskeletal conditions (n=387/1362; 28%), mostly arthritis. Skin conditions (mostly comprised of cases of atopic dermatitis) reduced working life most commonly (mean, approximately 5 years). Nervous sensory conditions (35% of which were cases of epilepsy) reduced working life by 3 years.

Date 2016
Publication Title Veterinary Journal
Volume 207
Pages 124-130
ISBN/ISSN 1090-0233
DOI 10.1016/j.tvjl.2015.10.046
Author Address School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Leicestershire, LE12 5RD, UK.Lucy.Asher@newcastle.ac.uk
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Age
  2. Aging
  3. Animal genetics
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Animals
  6. Arthritis
  7. Atopy
  8. Biochemistry
  9. Canidae
  10. Carnivores
  11. Companion
  12. Demography
  13. Dermatitis
  14. Diseases and injuries of animals
  15. Dogs
  16. Epidemiology
  17. Epilepsy
  18. Genetic parameters
  19. Guide dogs
  20. Health
  21. Heredity
  22. Incidence
  23. Mammals
  24. open access
  25. Pets and companion animals
  26. physiology
  27. skin diseases
  28. vertebrates
  29. Veterinary sciences
  30. Zoology
Badges
  1. open access