Can osteoarthritis affect a dog's mood?

October 7, 2015, University of Bristol
Can osteoarthritis affect a dog’s mood?

It is well known that osteoarthritis (OA) can have an emotional impact on humans but is this the case in dogs? Researchers at the University of Bristol are looking for dogs affected by the condition to take part in an arthritis and emotion study.

The Canine Arthritis and Emotion study, led by the Animal Welfare and Behaviour Group in the School of Veterinary Sciences, aims to find out more about how OA can affect a dog's mood.

To investigate the of OA, the researchers will be training in their home to perform a simple behavioural task to see how motivated they are to search for treats. The task involves teaching dogs to flip a cardboard lid off a bowl using their nose to find treats hidden inside.

Owners will also be asked to bring their dog to the Vet School for a full clinical examination by a vet, which will include the use of a specialised pressure sensor to measure joint sensitivity.

Lauren Harris, Vet School PhD student who is co-running the study, said: "Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as , is the most common type of arthritis seen in dogs and is a very common cause of chronic pain, particularly in older dogs.

"Dogs with the condition can show reduced mobility, behavioural changes and altered activity leading to a decrease in quality of life. Our theory is that dogs with OA are more pessimistic than healthy dogs and we hope our research will find out the emotional impact of OA on dogs."

Members of the public, who own a dog over six years of age and over 12 kilograms in weight who is showing signs of OA, such as stiffness after walks and difficulty jumping or climbing stairs, and who live in Bristol and the surrounding area, are invited to take part in the project by emailing or telephoning 07840 602 154.

The research team are also looking for healthy dogs of the same weight and age that are fit and well to participate in the study too.

Explore further: Study show similarities and differences in gazing between humans and dogs

Related Stories

Researchers dig for cause of dog diabetes

September 17, 2015

(HealthDay)—Like many other animals, man's best friend isn't immune to developing diabetes. But new research suggests that while the disease in dogs looks similar to type 1 diabetes in people, there are some significant ...

Recommended for you

Double the stress slows down evolution

December 6, 2018

Like other organisms, bacteria constantly have to fight to survive in hostile living conditions. Together with colleagues in Finland, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön have discovered ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.