Questionnaire ‘can detect canine mobility problems sooner’, study suggests

18th January 2024
Industry News

A study has indicated a new questionnaire, devised through a partnership between academics and a leading charity, could enable earlier identification of canine mobility issues.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have worked with Dogs Trust to create the GenPup-M system, which they now hope to develop into an open app for pet owners.

Analysis, which has now been published in the PLOS One journal, indicated a “significant” relationship between the new test’s findings and responses provided to an existing osteoarthritis test.

The paper added: “The authors feel the development of this tool will make a positive contribution to the dog-owning population, and the veterinary profession and improve canine health and welfare.”

Improve welfare

The questionnaire is intended to allow owners to reflect on their dog’s well-being and abilities and allow the exploration of options to improve their welfare.

The research explored the cases of 62 dogs – 31 with known mobility issues and 31 without – to compare GenPup-M responses to those from other forms of analysis. However, only 13 had a formal diagnosis.

Each of the dogs underwent a physical examination, while the questionnaires were completed remotely, because of COVID restrictions that meant the dogs’ owners could not be present when either physical examinations or gait analysis were undertaken.

The study found a “significant, moderate positive correlation” between the new test and both veterinary clinical examination scores and responses provided to the Liverpool Osteoarthritis in Dogs (LOAD) test.

Gait analysis

It also indicated a moderate positive correlation with peak vertical forces determined through kinetic gait analysis, while comparisons showed non-impaired dogs recorded higher absolute and size-normalised movement speeds than those with impairments.

Although it is estimated that as many as half of UK dogs are diagnosed with some sort of mobility issue between the ages of eight and 13 years, the researchers believe GenPup-M has the potential to bring problems to light at a much earlier stage than is currently the case and existing systems only enable monitoring once a dog’s condition has become more serious.

The paper also highlighted earlier research suggesting that as many as 200,000 UK dogs are affected by osteoarthritis alone as an indication of the potential scale of need.

Impaired mobility

Vet and researcher Natasha Clark said: “Impaired mobility can affect a dog’s ability to engage in daily activities and interactions, move or exercise freely. If an animal is unwilling to or cannot play, exercise or express normal behaviour this can impact its quality of life.

“Over time and if done at every check-up, the GenPup-M questionnaire can detect subtle changes in a dog’s mobility, without the need for time-consuming and expensive gait analysis. The tool can also aid vets in diagnosing and hopefully mitigating the development of mobility issues.

“Our research does not stop here and we will continue to research and develop GenPup-M to refine it as an even more effective tool for vets and dog care-givers.”

Jane Murray, Dogs Trust’s deputy head of research, welfare projects and grants, added: “We hope this research help more owners detect early signs of mobility issues, leading to veterinary and management interventions that can improve the welfare of affected dogs.”


Credit to:  Questionnaire ‘can detect canine mobility problems sooner’, study suggests (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  Questionnaire ‘can detect canine mobility problems sooner’, study suggests [online]

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