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Internet users' perception of the importance of signs commonly seen in old animals with age-related diseases
  1. M. Davies, BVetMed, CertVR, CertSAO, FRCVS
  1. School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire, LE12 5RD, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence michael.davies{at}

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UNLESS practices are running a screening programme to detect disease, veterinarians rely on owners to recognise abnormal signs and present their animal to them for examination and diagnosis. Common age-related diseases often present with similar clinical signs such as polydipsia, weight loss and reduced willingness to exercise (see Table 1).

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Table 1

Some of the age-related diseases associated with polydipsia, weight loss or reduced willingness to exercise

The aim of this survey was to ascertain internet users' perception of the seriousness of some of the signs often associated with common age-related disorders. A pop-up survey was designed for visitors to a busy animal health website ( At the time of the survey, this site was getting about 3000 hits per day, and the self-declared profile of visitors to the site based on a separate survey of 701 visitors was as follows: pet owners, 55.9 per cent; medical/veterinary students, 14.1 per cent; veterinarians, 5.7 per cent; school children, 5.6 per cent (three to 12 years of age, 3.6 per cent; 13 to 17 years of age, 2 per cent), other university students, 2.6 per cent; pet breeders, 2.4 per cent; veterinary nurses, 1.9 per cent; horse owners, 1.6 per cent; other medical-related professionals, 1.4 per cent; nurses, 1 per cent; farmers, 0.9 per cent; medical practitioners, 0.6 per cent; horse breeders, 0.3 per cent and others, 6.1 per cent. The majority of visitors to the site were directed from one of the …

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  • Conflicts of interest The author is Founder and Managing Director of Provet Limited, but this company will not benefit from publication of the results of this survey.

  • Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed

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