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Tasks to measure cognitive function in pet dogs

Á. González-Martínez, B. Rosado, P. Pesini, S. García-Belenguer and others

COGNITIVE dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is a form of age-related cognitive decline that affects geriatric dogs. Determining whether a dog may be showing signs of CDS largely relies on owner-reported history. This study aimed to assess the effect of age and severity of cognitive dysfunction as reported by owners by getting dogs to perform two simple tasks in a clinical setting.

Eighty-seven dogs were enrolled in the study. The dogs were categorised as young or middle-aged (aged between one and eight years), aged dogs with reported cognitive impairment and aged dogs without reported cognitive impairment (‘aged’ was taken to mean over nine years old).

In the first task, the dog sat in the centre of the room while a tester stood in front of it and showed it three small cubes of ham. The tester moved backwards, indicating toward the food, and then placed the food in a corner of the room. The dog's owner then removed it from the room for 15 seconds and, when the owner and dog re-entered, the dog was allowed to explore. When a dog successfully found the food the test was completed, but if it …

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