Citizen Science Project

BSAVA PetSavers is funding a new citizen science research project at the University of Liverpool – aiming to help vets and owners provide the best care for their senior dogs.

We had a brilliant response to our initial call for veterinary professionals and dog owners to take part in in-depth interviews and for owners of canine golden oldies to submit videos, photos and written descriptions of what it’s like to live with and care for an older dog.

The research team will now be analysing all of this information and, over the coming months, we’ll be sharing some of the common themes emerging from the research plus telling you more about how you can get involved again in the next phase of the project.


Sign up for project updates and other ways to get involved

We'd love to keep you informed about our project updates. For all the latest information, please click here and enter your details. 

You can also check out the project Facebook page here or Twitter feed @OldAgePets for the latest news.


Image reference: Rehm M. Seeing double.Veterinary Economics. 2007;48(10):40-48. Chart courtesy of Fred L. Metzger, DVM, DABVP.
Image reference: Rehm M. Seeing double.Veterinary Economics. 2007;48(10):40-48. Chart courtesy of Fred L. Metzger, DVM, DABVP.

About the OAP research project

Dogs are living up to twice as long as they did 40 years ago which has implications for ageing dogs’ healthcare and wellbeing. As the life expectancy of canine golden oldies increases, so does the amount of time our dogs spend in poor health, but it may be difficult for us to distinguish between normal age-related changes and serious diseases that require veterinary treatment.

To help address this, BSAVA PetSavers is funding a major research project at the University of Liverpool – Old Age Pets – that will help vets and owners to provide the best care for their senior and geriatric dogs.

Over the next two years, BSAVA PetSavers and the University of Liverpool will work together to investigate owner expectations, experiences and attitudes to ageing in dogs. Pet owners will be invited to submit diaries, photographs or videos, to share their experiences of living with an older dog.

There will also be opportunities for both veterinary professionals and pet owners to complete in-depth interviews and online questionnaires. 

Veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses will be asked about the services they offer for senior dogs to determine what preventative healthcare, treatment and advice is currently offered to senior pets and their owners. This information will be supplemented by examination of the electronic health records of senior dogs reported in the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network.

The findings will be used to develop a guidance tool with the intention of helping veterinary professionals and owners to provide the best care to senior dogs.

Covid-19 update

In accordance with the University of Liverpool’s policy on research involving human participants during the Covid-19 pandemic, all face-to-face contact has been halted to reduce the risk of exposure. We have modified our original plan of conducting interviews in person to using Microsoft Teams video conferencing software to carry them out online. We hope that some of the participants’ dogs will be present during the interviews, so that the researchers can complete some brief observations when possible. 

All preliminary questionnaires for veterinary professionals and owners are also online to avoid the need for paper copies, and we changed the method of gaining informed consent from participants to allow them to be completed online. 

We are aware that this is a particularly difficult time to carry out research, as the situation continues to change rapidly with new advice coming out daily. We are committed to complying with all measures to ensure public safety during the pandemic, and hope that by offering people an outlet to talk about their beloved pets we can at least brighten up their day.  

Meet the research team

Find out more about the research team, led by Carri Westgarth from the University of Liverpool

Find out more

Watch our webinar 

As part of the popular BSAVA Science Webinar series, we talk to Carri Westgarth and Zoe Belshaw about the progress and purpose of the OAP project, and much more! 

Watch it here

The BSAVA and ageing dogs

Junior Vice President of the BSAVA, Carl Gorman, talks about his book ‘The Ageing Dog’, which ties in perfectly with the work and aims of the OAP project.

Read the interview here


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