Do dog owners recognise behavioural indicators of canine cognitive dysfunction and can environmental enrichment techniques slow its progression?
Background: Veterinary professionals have seen a rise in geriatric patients suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD). Previous literature has supported the use of environmental enrichment therapies which have been considered to reduce the progression of cognitive decline in CCD. However, CCD is commonly undiagnosed within the companion dog population.Aim: To determine whether owners of older dogs are able to notice behavioural changes, and in addition, explore knowledge around the term environmental enrichment which may help owners slow the progression of CCD through further education.Method: The study involved quantitative research using a questionnaire with 11 questions. Data were subsequently statistically analysed. Of the participants 16 worked within a veterinary practice, 52 were customers visiting a pet shop and 39 respondents formed a web survey group predominantly of veterinary professionals.Results: Owners of geriatric dogs working within a veterinary-related field were more likely to notice behavioural changes possibly associated with CCD compared with the average owner of a geriatric dog, and were also more likely to understand the term environmental enrichment.Conclusion: This study informs the veterinary field that improved education strategies implemented within nurse clinics may help pet owners recognise behavioural indicators of CCD, and treatment recommendations may assist in slowing the progression of CCD in geriatric dogs.
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