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.
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.