Earlier this year I had the opportunity to record an interview with The Pig Site to promote the PigSustain project. This website is a great source of information on everything pig related, from the latest research on health and welfare to market trends and future directions for pork production. To learn more about progress to date on PigSustain and our future plans for investigating resilience and sustainability in the UK pig industry, check out the video below:
Most people working in research understand that the work often includes hours spent behind a desktop, with your head stuck in books or staring at excel worksheets. It is incredibly rewarding when you can get away from the desk and actually spend time with the animals you are studying. This is especially rewarding when you start to recognise individuals, how they interact with each other and you see their characters coming out! STRAYS has now begun a project in Italy where we will be studying the community dogs over the next year. Over the last few days, the team have found some charming dogs within the Pescara Province of Abruzzo. The community dogs here are under the responsibility of the town mayor and after the dogs have been neutered and vaccinated by the local veterinary health unit, they are released back to their territory. The team have been conducting surveys of these dogs in the early mornings, at a time when the town is most peaceful. During our surveys, we have seen the dogs travelling around the town, using pedestrian crossings(!), sniffing and interacting with the other community dogs along their way. One particular dog which has charmed us, is this hairy sleepy boy (photograph below). He was very relaxed and mostly slept as we observed him. We have seen this dog in a couple of surveys now and it will be interesting to see if he is still here when we return in a few months!
The STRAYS team will also be studying the street dogs of Ukraine in a few weeks, so watch this space for more updates as the study progresses!
Our new paper based on the epidemiology of canine osteoarthritis went live online this morning! The paper entitled ‘Prevalence, duration and risk factors for appendicular osteoarthritis in a UK dog population under primary veterinary care’ was conducted as one part of my MRes project, using the VetcompassTM database. Using veterinary primary-care electronic patient records, information was gathered to provide epidemiological data for canine osteoarthritis. The key findings for this paper include prevalence, duration of and risk factors for development of osteoarthritis in UK dogs.
Of 455,557 study dogs, we identified 16,437 candidate osteoarthritis cases through a combination of search terms to highlight potential cases. 6104 (37%) of these were manually checked and 4196 (69% of sample) were confirmed as cases. Further data on demography, clinical signs, duration and management were extracted for a proportion of these confirmed cases. Estimated annual period prevalence of appendicular osteoarthritis was calculated at 2.5% equating to around 200,000 UK affected dogs annually. Risk factors associated with osteoarthritis diagnosis included breed (e.g. Labrador, Golden Retriever), being insured, being neutered, of higher bodyweight and being older than six years. Duration calculation trials suggest osteoarthritis affects 11% of affected individuals’ lifespan. These findings provide evidence that osteoarthritis can have a substantial impact on canine welfare at the individual and population level, and should not be overlooked as a disorder in veterinary medicine!
The paper is available via open access at www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23940-z