Like humans, all dogs are unique. Your furry best friend is more than their breed, gender, or age. These characteristics may describe your dog, but they don’t define your dog. Some have quirky habits or unusual friendships. Some are top competitors. Others will only eat if you make their food a certain way. These details are the things that make our dogs shine as individuals!
The Dog Aging Project is all about trying to learn as much as we can about dog aging, and the first step in that understanding is to learn about the lives of dogs across the country. We do this through the Health and Life Experience Survey. Who are the couch potatoes? Who are trained athletes? Which dogs live in a bustling city, and which dogs live the farm life? Your responses are vital for our scientific work. Plus, we LOVE getting to know your dog!
After you have nominated your dog and created your online personal portal at the Dog Aging Project, you’ll receive an email invitation to begin the survey process. There may be a delay initially. We have a LOT of invitations to send out! (Read more about the process here.) Once you receive your invitation, we will describe the survey in detail and ask for your consent to participate. After that, we dive into the fun stuff!
The Health and Life Experience Survey is divided into ten sections:
- Owner Contact
- Dog Demographics
- Physical Activity
- Meds and Preventatives
- Health Status
- Owner Demographics
- Additional Studies
If this seems like a lot, it is, but don’t worry! The Health and Life Experience Survey does not have to be completed all at once. You can always save your progress and return later as long as you complete it within 6 weeks. Some of the sections will be quick to complete. Others, such as the Health Status section, may take longer if your dog has a complicated medical history. For example, if you indicate that your dog has had a cancer diagnosis, we will ask more detailed questions about the kind of cancer and the treatment path. In all cases, we provide an estimate of how long it will take to complete each section, and after the first two sections, you can complete the rest in any order.
After you complete the survey, your dog will officially be a member of a group we call the Dog Aging Project Pack. There’s a cool certificate for your furry friend, and you can celebrate your contribution to the science of healthy aging!
Your first opportunity to get more involved as a member of the Pack is to upload your dog’s veterinary electronic medical records. (You’ll be able to read more about this in an upcoming blog.) It’s not a requirement, but if you are able to submit your dog’s records, then it enhances the information you provide in the survey and also makes your dog eligible for some additional studies. If you are not able to upload your dog’s records, that’s okay too. You and your dog are still part of the study!
Every year or so, we will ask you to update the Health and Life Experience Survey. This is how we begin to understand how dogs change over time. How does your dog’s activity level change? Are you giving your dog more supplements? Is their health status different from year to year? By keeping us updated about your dog’s life over many years, we will be able to know what the aging experience is like for your dog. We hope to collect these unique perspectives from dogs all across the country.
So, THANK YOU for taking the time to complete the Health and Life Experience Survey! We’re excited to hear your dog’s story and to welcome them into the Pack!
Photo Credit: Sam Manns