Welcome to vnonline.co.uk

vnonline.co.uk provides the veterinary nursing profession with the latest news and industry developments, as well as events, resources, learning materials and careers.

Our website is dedicated to veterinary nurses and we strive to provide a platform where you can voice and explore your interests.

Not a member yet? Sign up for free!

Register for free with vnonline.co.uk to gain unlimited access to news, resources, jobs and much more!

Click here to become a member

Log in to vnonline

Forgot your password?

Posted: 16th April 2024

Dog owners think symptoms are ‘old age’, survey finds
78 per cent of owners would not take their pet to the veterinary practice if it was walking more slowly.

Owners could be dismissing signs of serious health problems.

A survey from the University of Liverpool has found that many owners of older dogs are attributing clinical signs to their pet’s age.

This is preventing them from bringing their dog to a veterinary practice, despite the symptoms being signs of serious health problems.

Researchers surveyed more than 600 dog owners and more than 300 veterinary professionals from across the UK.

Dog owners were shown a list of 48 clinical signs, and asked if they had noticed any of them in their older dogs. They were then asked how urgent they considered it that they seek veterinary advice for that sign.

Overall the researchers said that dog owners were attributing serious changes in their older dogs to ageing, including slowing down on walks, being stiff on rising, and developing dental tartar.

This has meant that 78 per cent of owners said they would not take their senior dog to their veterinary practice if they noticed it was walking more slowly.

The survey also revealed that the majority of owners felt that a healthy senior dog should only be seen by a veterinary professional once per year. This contradicts veterinary advice, which suggests senior dogs should visit a veterinary practice every six months.

It identified that 14 per cent of owners would only take their dog to a veterinary practice if it became unwell, an approach which 98 per cent of veterinary professionals disagreed with. Sixteen per cent of owners of dogs of any age had not visited their practice in the previous year.

Furthermore, despite 92 per cent of veterinary professionals advocating yearly vaccinations, 28 per cent of owners’ dogs had not been vaccinated in the past year.

Veterinary professionals believe this may indicate a need for better education and communication between veterinary teams and their clients.

The data has been used to produce the BSAVA PetSavers Ageing Canine Toolkit leaflet and poster, for first opinion practices. Feedback is currently being collected to measure the impact of the toolkit on owners, veterinary teams and senior dogs.

Prof Carri Westgarth, co-author of the study, said: “Perceptions of dog owners and veterinary professionals can influence the preventive healthcare and treatment provided to dogs, especially at the senior life-stage, when chronic diseases become more common.

“The differences in opinion highlighted by our survey suggest that new educational initiatives and more effective communication are required.”

The full study can be found in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

Image © Shutterstock

Become a member
or log in to add this story to your CPD history