Research Outcome: Grant 02128-A: Redefining the Recommendations for Prevention of Infectious Disease at Dog Shows and Other Areas Where Dogs Meet and Compete
To help dog owners and event organizers better understand and prevent transmission of infectious diseases in dogs, the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), in collaboration with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), funded a study in order to provide practical guidelines to reduce the risk of disease spread in the canine population.
Principal Investigator, Dr. Jason Stull, VMD, PhD, Ohio State University, provides the following summary of this grant.
Through the use of focus groups, surveys, and a study panel of experts in canine infectious disease, this grant has resulted in the development of key recommendations to prevent and control infectious disease transmission among dogs at group settings (e.g., shows, agility, boarding, dog daycare, dog parks). Resources were developed to get these recommendations and related tools into the hands of setting participants and organizers/staff. These include:
1. An open-assess peer-reviewed journal article written for those in the veterinary field involved in organizing and providing care for dogs involved in canine group settings. The article provides an in-depth discussion of the infectious disease risks, supporting evidence and resulting recommendations developed by the research group.
2. A freely assessable whitepaper document written for those who have dogs involved in dog group settings, organize an event, or own/work at a group setting. The document provides an overview of the infectious disease risks in dog group settings with practical, specific recommendations for reducing risks. It includes tables of key infectious diseases of concern, checklists for event/facility participants and organizers and vaccine and disinfectant recommendations. Focus group and surveys shaped content to ensure it meets the needs of participants and organizers.
3. Quick reference sheets that discuss a sample of infectious pathogens and general disease concepts geared at the dog owner level were developed. The diseases ringworm, hookworms, Lyme disease and canine distemper virus were choose to highlight the variability in diseases affecting canine group settings and different prevention methods needed to address disease risks.
4. An on-line infectious diseases Risk Calculator that uses a series of short multiple choice questions to provide immediate feedback to users. Feedback allows users to identify higher risk practices and identify potential solutions for risk reduction. All of the above materials are tied to this calculator with the idea that users become interested in the topic by completing the short calculator and are then motivated to invest the needed time to read the in-depth white paper and/or publication.
5. All of the above developed resources are now housed at a dedicated website.
Conclusions and Future Directions
This grant resulted in the development of several key resources for identifying and reducing infectious disease risks at canine group settings. In the hands of engaged participants and setting organizers/staff, these resources are likely to reduce infectious disease risks in group settings and their involved dogs. Through this work, however, it is also clear there is a great need for education and training on this topic. Our work suggests higher risk practices are likely to be regularly occurring at canine group settings, including AKC conformation shows. Further, some recommendations are likely to be met with strong resistance (e.g., external requirements), highlighting the need for a culture change to occur among setting participants. As such, on-going education is critical to successful implementation of the developed recommendations. This need was uncovered through the surveys and focus group. Education toward participants in group setting events is needed to assist in instilling the purpose of these recommendations and importance in following them. Education/training is needed for setting organizers and leaders to give them the tools to effectively accomplish fine-tuning, implementing, and enforcing the recommendations identified in this work. Developing such resources at the setting-specific level will be important as settings vary greatly between disease risks and modifiable factors to reduce risks.
Help Future Generations of Dogs
Participate in canine health research by providing samples or by enrolling in a clinical trial. Samples are needed from healthy dogs and dogs affected by specific diseases.