Social and sporting events for dogs are on the rise. Just like their human counterparts, the more dogs interact, the more at risk they are for contracting illnesses in public places. 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), announces a newly funded study that will provide practical guidelines to reduce the risk of disease spread in the canine population. Rather than generate new data, researchers will do a retrospective analysis of existing information to provide recommendations for managing infectious disease at the level of both the dog and the environment.
Dr. Jason Stull, VMD, MPVM, PhD, DACVPM (Public Health, Epidemiology) of The Ohio State University is the principal researcher on the project. His OSU team includes: Armando Hoet, DVM, PhD, DACVPM (Public Health, Epidemiology); Jeanette O’Quin, DVM, MPH (Public Health, Epidemiology); and Mary Jo Burkhard, DVM, PhD, DACVP (Immunology/Infectious Disease, Clinical Pathology). ”We are excited to have this stellar team of veterinary infectious disease experts work with CHF and OFA to produce up-to-date recommendations that will have real world implications,” said Dr. Shila Nordone, CHF Chief Scientific Officer.
Fully funded by OFA, the grant aims to equip the dog loving community with information and an understanding of how to keep their dogs healthy in locations where disease spread is more likely. According to Eddie Dziuk, Chief Operating Officer of OFA, “Whether participating in various dog sports, attending training classes, or simply visiting the local dog park, mitigating the risk of infectious disease transmission should be of concern to all responsible dog owners whose dogs are regularly in contact with other dogs.” Dziuk goes on to state, “The Ohio State University has assembled an outstanding team to review the existing literature, engage stakeholder groups in the process, and develop consensus recommendations from key opinion leaders. The end result will be safer, healthier environments for our dogs through education, prevention, and guidelines of best practices to prevent the outbreak of infectious disease.”
The outcome of the study will be a peer-reviewed publication defining up-to-date risk assessment and management recommendations, and most importantly, a white paper that can be used by dog owners and organizers of canine events and facilities. CHF anticipates that the recommendations will be released to the public by early 2016. Researchers also hope to create an open-access, interactive website that can be used by all involved with dogs to help reduce the risk and spread of infectious disease where dogs meet and compete.