By Honor Coulter | research
One of our ongoing projects is 'Generation Pup' based at the Royal Veterinary College and in collaboration with other Universities across the UK:
Generation Pup is a ground-breaking research study which follows dogs throughout their lives. Research is essential to better understand how and why health and behavioural problems develop, so we can look for ways to prevent and treat them. Generation Pup is a unique type of project, known as a cohort study, where information from lots of individual dogs is collected at regular time points through their lives. This has some big advantages over other approaches, as it enables us to investigate whether events or environments early in life influence the development of conditions as dogs get older.
The results of the study may suggest preventative measures that can be put in place, or lead to new approaches for therapy or treatment. However, for this type of research to be successful we need lots of help from dog owners. We need owners to regularly update us on various aspects of their dog’s life, behaviour and experiences, so that we can look for common trends or themes that occur between dogs. We are signing up puppies under 16 weeks of age of all breeds and crossbreeds from across the UK to take part in Generation Pup. This will be one of the largest studies of its kind, and we need dog lovers, owners, vets, breeders and rescue centres to help with recruitment.
Puppy owners are asked to complete an online questionnaire at first recruitment, at 12 weeks, at 16 weeks, then when their dog is 6, 12, 18, and 24 months of age, and twice a year thereafter. Owners can choose to have greater involvement if they wish, by collecting faecal, urine, buccal (cheek swab) and hair samples from their dogs – all of which are non-invasive to collect and for which there are sampling packs, clear instructions and videos available. Owners will also be asked if they are willing to take Generation Pup Vet Cards with them when they visit their vet for their dog’s annual vaccination/health check visits.
The study is set-up for long-term sustainability to both follow recruited dogs throughout their lives and ensure we collect plenty of information to investigate a multitude of further health and welfare issues which may develop later in a dog’s life.
We have a project website that we will update with information about the study regularly. We also provide regular newsletters to participants, have a profile across different social and mainstream media platforms, and we run regular competitions such as ’Puppy of the Month’ and prize draws for the star questionnaire completers!
There is lots of information on our website, or you can find us on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you so much for your interest!