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Mortality resulting from undesirable behaviours in dogs aged under three years attending primary-care veterinary practices in England


    Abstract

    Undesirable behaviours (UBs) are common in dogs and can jeopardise animal and human health, leading to dog abandonment and euthanasia. Dogs exhibiting UBs may have compromised welfare from underlying emotional motivations for the behaviour (eg anxiety) or from the methods used by owners to resolve the problem (eg aversive techniques). The objective of this study was to estimate proportional mortality due to UBs and risk factors for death due to UBs, including death from road traffic accidents, in dogs under three years of age attending primary-care veterinary practices in England from 2009‐2014. Cases were identified by searching de-identified electronic patient records from primary-care veterinary practices participating in the VetCompass Programme. The findings highlight that dogs under three years of age are at a proportionately high risk of death due to UBs (33.7%) compared with other specific causes of death (eg gastrointestinal issues: 14.5%). Male dogs had 1.40× the odds of death from UB compared with females. The proportional mortality from UB for male dogs where information on the cause of death was available was 0.41. Neutered dogs had 1.94× the odds of death due to a UB compared with entire dogs. Aggression was the most prevalent UB overall. Veterinarians had recommended referral in 10.3% of cases where dogs died due to exhibiting a UB and had dispensed nutraceutical, pheromone or pharmacological treatment to 3.0% of the UB cases that died. This study shows that undesirable behaviours require better preventive measures and treatment, through further research and education of veterinarians, other professionals within the dog industry and owners.

    See a write up on the research..."Misbehaving dogs die young"  at RVC.

    Quote

    Dr. Dan O'Neill, Senior Lecturer at the RVC and supervisor of the study, said:  
    “This study is the biggest study ever undertaken on behavioural reasons for deaths in young dogs in the UK.  It suggests the importance of good socialisation of puppies by breeders, of sensible breed selection by owners and of careful dog training after acquiring a dog, to ensure that the lives of dogs and owners are fulfilling for all parties involved. “Dogs with behaviours that their owners find unacceptable are at risk of compromised welfare, either because of their own underlying emotional motivations for the behaviour (e.g. anxiety or fear) or because of how their owners might seek to resolve the problem (e.g. the use of punishment such as beating or electric shock collars). Greater awareness of the scale of this issue can be the first step towards reducing the problems and making the lives of thousands of our young dogs happier.”  

     

    - Pay for access to the research paper- http://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/ufaw/aw/2018/00000027/00000003/art00006

    1. Boyd, C; Jarvis, S; McGreevy, Pd; Heath, S; Church, Db; Brodbelt, Dc; O’Neill, Dg, Mortality resulting from undesirable behaviours in dogs aged under three years attending primary-care veterinary practices in EnglandAnimal Welfare, Volume 27, Number 3, 1 August 2018, pp. 251-262(12)

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