Life has changed for dogs during lockdown

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public domain

They are the faithful companions of thousands of people. Now research shows the lockdown experience of Britain’s favorite dog breed has affected their lifestyle and veterinary care.

Labs had similar levels of illness overall, but visited the vet less often during the first months of the pandemic, according to a new study.

This highlights that the dogs may not have received their usual veterinary care when they were sick. According to the researchers, it is possible that the owners had difficulty accessing veterinary services or that they perceived their dogs’ ailments as too minor to treat under the circumstances.

The number of vaccinated Labradors has also decreased due to fewer visits to the vet.

Experts say the results should prompt owners to speak to their veterinarian and ensure any gaps in their dog’s vaccination history are filled.


However, not all of the impacts of the lockdown have been negative. Just as some people stepped up their fitness routines, Labradors benefited from increased exercise, and they were less likely to receive treats from their owners.

Labrador owners also reported less coughing in their dogs, which may have included infectious causes like kennel cough, a perennial disease in dogs.

A reduction in the dogs’ social interactions may have stemmed the spread of the insects, according to the team.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh collected data from more than 4,000 Labrador owners in England between March and July 2020.

The team also found that compared to previous years, Labradors were less likely to be insured, which may be related to the uncertain financial situation of many owners.

Dogs in the study sample were more likely to be dewormed, however, likely because owners spent more time with their pets and were less likely to forget.

Future pandemics

The researchers say the results can inform owners and veterinarians of best practices for keeping dogs healthy during future pandemics.

Future studies should aim to help veterinary professionals and owners minimize the negative impacts of a pandemic on dogs, according to the research team.

The study is published in the journal BMC Veterinary Researchand was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Research was carried out as part of the Dogslife project, which is based at the University’s Roslin Institute and studies the genetic and environmental factors that keep dogs healthy.

Dogslife has been collecting information from Kennel Club registered Labrador owners since 2010.

“The lockdown restrictions have had a significant impact on Labrador retrievers. The implications of the changes are complex and further research should aim to shed light on how the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on dogs can be minimized, said Charlotte Woolley, lead author and postdoctoral researcher at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh.

Dog Owners‘ Concerns and Experience of Accessing Veterinary Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

More information:
Charlotte SC Woolley et al, The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a cohort of Labrador retrievers in England, BMC Veterinary Research (2022). DOI: 10.1186/s12917-022-03319-z

Provided by the University of Edinburgh

Quote: Life changed for dogs during lockdown (2022, June 27) Retrieved June 27, 2022 from

This document is subject to copyright. Except for fair use for purposes of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for information only.