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Global Positioning System Derived Performance Measures Are Responsive Indicators of Physical Activity, Disease and the Success of Clinical Treatments in Domestic Dogs

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0117094
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2015


OBJECTIVE: To assess the use of Global Positioning System receiver (GPS) derived performance measures for differentiating between: 1) different outdoor activities in healthy dogs; 2) healthy dogs and those with osteoarthritis; 3) osteoarthritic dogs before and after treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesia.

DESIGN: Prospective study.

ANIMALS: Ten healthy dogs and seven dogs with osteoarthritis of the elbow joint (OA dogs).

PROCEDURE: Healthy dogs were walked on a standard route on-lead, off-lead and subjected to playing activity (chasing a ball) whilst wearing a GPS collar. Each dog was walked for five consecutive days. Dogs with OA were subjected to a single off-lead walk whilst wearing a GPS collar, and then administered oral Carprofen analgesia daily for two weeks. OA dogs were then subjected to the same walk, again wearing a GPS collar.

RESULTS: GPS derived measures of physical performance could differentiate between on-lead activity, off-lead activity and playing activity in healthy dogs, and between healthy dogs and OA dogs. Variation in the performance measures analysed was greater between individual dogs than for individual dogs on different days. Performance measures could differentiate healthy dogs from OA dogs. OA Dogs treated with Carprofen analgesia showed improvements in their physical performance, which returned to values indistinguishable from those of healthy dogs on nearly all the measures assessed.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: GPS derived measures of physical performance in dogs are objective, easy to quantify, and can be used to gauge the effects of disease and success of clinical treatments. Specific stimuli can be used to modulate physical performance beyond the self-governed boundaries that dogs will naturally express when allowed to exercise freely without stimulation.

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