Celebrating Science on Your Pack Day Anniversary!

May 18, 2021 - 6 minutes read

What’s a Pack Day Anniversary?

We’re glad you asked! Pack Day is the anniversary of the day on which you completed the Health and Life Experience Survey, and your dog became a member of the Dog Aging Project Pack!

Each year, on your Pack Day, you will receive an invitation to complete the Annual Follow-Up Survey, which gives you the opportunity to update the information about your dog that you provided the previous year. The Annual Follow-Up is an absolutely critical part of our research design.

When you open the Annual Follow-Up Survey you may recognize some of the same sections you completed when you filled out the Health and Life Experience Survey the year before. This is not an accident!

As we have discussed before, the Dog Aging Project is a longitudinal observational study. This means we are following our Pack members over time (longitudinal) and measuring, but not manipulating (observational), the factors in their life that may prove to be the keys to healthy aging. This allows us to track the complex combination of factors in our Pack members’ lives that may influence their health and longevity.

The reason we need to capture this information over time, rather than at a single point in time, is that it allows us to examine cause-and-effect relationships by establishing the order in which events in our members’ lives occur. By capturing details about our Pack over the course of their lives we are able to explore the patterns of change in their lifestyle and health, and we can link earlier life experiences with later life outcomes. This also allows us to assess time-related factors like frequency or duration of exposures that may prove important to long-term health.

Participants who completed the Health and Life Experience Survey when they nominated their dogs have already provided us with valuable information about the individual life factors and health of their dogs, but we can not make full use of these data without completion of the Annual Follow-Up Survey.

The Annual Follow-Up Survey is structured similarly to the Health and LIfe Experience Survey. You will likely recognize the main sections, which include:

  • Owner Contact
  • Dog Demographics
  • Physical Activity
  • Environment
  • Behavior
  • Diet
  • Medications and Preventives
  • Health Status
  • Owner Demographics

Some of the questions in these sections will be asked in the same way they were last year. However, in some areas of the survey you will only be asked to verify or update information you previously provided.

Another advantage of using a longitudinal study design is that we have the ability to capture new information in the Annual Follow-Up Survey. Now you will find two new surveys designed to help us learn even more about our Pack!

One of these, the Canine Eating Behavior Survey, will help us to assess the relationship between dog eating behaviors that are related to overall health and fitness, including how you interact with your dog around meals and exercise.

The second of these, the Dog‐Owner Relationship Survey, will help us to better understand your relationship with your dog, including your perception of the degree of support you get from your dog, the ways in which you bond with your dog, the kinds of things you do together, and your perception of the responsibilities involved in dog ownership. These surveys will help us to better understand your dog, your relationship with them, and how these factors impact their overall health and wellbeing.

As with the Health and Life Experience Survey, the Annual Follow-Up does not have to be completed all at once. You can always save your progress and return later. However, it’s very important that you complete all sections within 6 weeks. Estimates of how long it will take to complete each section are provided, and you can complete the sections in any order after you verify the contact information we have recorded for you.

As always, we thank you for your participation in the largest longitudinal dog study ever attempted! We are excited to learn more about your dog’s special and unique story and are grateful to have them as a member of the Pack!

Happy Pack Day!

Ruple

Audrey Ruple, DVM, MS, PhD, DipACVPM, MRCVS