Charitable research organisation PetSavers is appealing to owners of canine golden oldies to get involved with a new citizen science project, Old Age Pets, aimed at helping veterinary professionals and owners to provide the best care for their pets. Owners are being asked to provide a photo or video and a brief description that capture what it is like to live with and care for an older dog.
Dr Carri Westgarth, a senior lecturer in human-animal interaction at the University of Liverpool, has been awarded a citizen science grant from PetSavers to run the project. She plans to use the information gathered to help develop a “Canine Ageing and Wellbeing” tool for use in veterinary practice, helping veterinary professionals and pet owners work together for the greater benefit of senior dogs.
“Dogs are living up to twice as long as they did 40 years ago and there are implications for senior dogs’ healthcare and wellbeing,” said Dr Westgarth. “As life expectancy increases, so does the amount of time the dog may spend in poor health. It may be difficult for us to distinguish between the signs of serious age-related diseases and normal age-related changes in our dogs.”
This data will contribute to our investigations of owner expectations, experiences and attitudes to ageing in dogs, including preventative care and general understanding of normal and abnormal changes during ageing. “Improving discussions between owners and veterinary professionals about senior dog care will help to increase owner understanding and involvement in care decisions for their pet,” said Dr Westgarth. “The resulting early detection of health problems should bring significant improvement to the quality of life of senior pets and the dog-owner relationship.”
Any adult UK residents who (currently or recently) live with an aged dog/s of any breed/s or health status are encouraged to participate by choosing an image or short video and telling us about it. The research team will analyse the submitted text and media for common themes. They may also use anonymised selected quotes to illustrate important findings in research publications such as scientific papers or conference presentations.
If you would like to participate, it’s easy to submit your photographs, videos and comments online.
Data collection will close on Friday 10 July 2020.