Publications by authors named "Paul McGreevy"

151 Publications

Frequency, Stressfulness and Type of Ethically Challenging Situations Encountered by Veterinary Team Members During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Front Vet Sci 2021 12;8:647108. Epub 2021 Apr 12.

Faculty of Science, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia.

Ethically challenging situations (ECS) are common in veterinary settings and can lead to moral stress. However, there is no published information about how a global pandemic affects the frequency and types of ECS encountered by veterinary team members. An online mixed methods survey was developed to determine the frequency, stressfulness and types of ECS experienced by veterinarians, animal health technicians and veterinary nurses since the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Responses from 540 veterinary team members from 22 countries were analyzed. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the median frequency of ECS encountered by respondents increased from several times per month to several times per week (Spearman Rank Correlation 0.619, < 0.0001). The most common ECS (encountered at least several times per week) were: (64.4%), (64.3%), (59.6%). These were followed by (48.1%); (46.3%); and (46.3%). The most stressful ECS (reported to be very or maximally stressful) were: (50.2%), (42.9%), (42.5%), (39.4%), (38.0%), and (33.6%). Thematic analysis of free-text responses revealed biosecurity, client financial limitations, animal welfare, working conditions, and client relations as prominent themes. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study to describe the impacts of the pandemic on ECS experienced by veterinary teams globally. It identifies an increase in the frequency of ECS associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and a number of stressors unique to the pandemic. We identified a number of resources and strategies that may help veterinary team members navigate ethical challenges that may emerge in their daily work, as well as in the context of global crises.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.647108DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8071942PMC
April 2021

The race that segments a nation: Findings from a convenience poll of attitudes toward the Melbourne Cup Thoroughbred horse race, gambling and animal cruelty.

PLoS One 2021 24;16(3):e0248945. Epub 2021 Mar 24.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

The annual Melbourne Cup Thoroughbred horse race has iconic status among many Australians but sits in the context of increasing criticism of the welfare of Thoroughbred racing horses and the ethics of gambling. Despite heated debates and protests playing out in the public domain, there is scant empirical research to document Australian attitudes to the Melbourne Cup, or horse racing more generally. Specifically, little is known about how support for or against the Melbourne Cup correlate with age, gender, income and level of education. To provide a more nuanced understanding of attitudes towards the cup beyond the rudimentary binaries of those who are 'for' or 'against' gambling and horse racing, the purpose of the study was to identify clusters of people with particular views. An opportunistic survey collected data on respondents' gender, age, place of residence, weekly income, employment status and highest level of education, and sought their level of agreement with six statements about the Melbourne Cup, gambling and animal cruelty. Ordinal logistic regression and Chi-square analysis were used to evaluate the age and gender of respondents in clusters respectively. Agreement with the statements revealed some significant associations. Male respondents were at greater odds for agreement with the statement: I regularly bet on horse races (OR = 2.39; 95% CI = 1.78-3.22) as were respondents aged 18-19 years (OR = 2.88; 95% CI = 1.13-7.35) and 20-24 years (OR = 1.90; 95% CI 1.00-3.62) compared with the median 35-40 years age bracket. Agreement with the statement: I will watch the Melbourne Cup but will not place a bet was more likely among the full-time employed (OR = 1.60; 95% CI = 1.10-2.32), for those aged 20-24 years (OR = 1.85; 95% CI = 1.16-2.95). The odds of increasing agreement with the statement: I have never been interested in the Melbourne Cup were multiplied by 0.87 (95% CI = 0.82-0.92) with each successive five-year age bracket. The most useful of the predictor variables for agreement was level of education. The odds of increasing with the statement: I have become less interested in the Melbourne Cup over recent years because of my concerns with gambling were multiplied by 1.09 (95% CI = 1.02-1.15) for each increased level of education. Agreement with the statement: I have become less interested in the Melbourne Cup because of my concerns about animal cruelty was weaker amongst male respondents (OR = 0.62; 95% CI = 0.48-0.80), and those in increasing age brackets (OR = 0.88; 95% CI = 0.83-0.93). A series of six clusters were identified that show how certain attributes of respondents characterise their responses. The authors labelled these clusters "Devotees" (n = 313; 30.4% of respondents), "Flaneurs" (n = 244; 21.8% of respondents), "Disapprovers" (n = 163; 15.9% of respondents), "Casuals" (n = 148; 14.4% of respondents), "Gamblers" (n = 126; 12.3% of respondents) and "Paradoxical-voters" (n = 54; 5.3% of respondents). The implications for support of the Melbourne Cup are explored.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0248945PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7990293PMC
March 2021

Mortality Resulting from Undesirable Behaviours in Dogs Aged Three Years and under Attending Primary-Care Veterinary Practices in Australia.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Feb 13;11(2). Epub 2021 Feb 13.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

There is increasing evidence that undesirable behaviours (UBs) in dogs can compromise the welfare of both canine companions and their carers. Veterinarians are regularly consulted about affected animals and may be asked to euthanase the more severely affected individuals. A recent study of veterinary records showed that UBs were the predominant cause of mortality in young dogs in the UK. This companion study from Australia reports the proportion of mortality due to UBs among dogs aged three years and under that attended veterinary practices from 2013 to 2018. Deidentified patient records were extracted from the VetCompass Australia database and manually assessed to reveal the prevalence and type of UBs reported. The results reveal that 29.7% of the 4341 dogs that died at three years of age or under had deaths ascribed to at least one UB, and that the most commonly reported UB was aggression. Neutered dogs had 2.5× the odds of death due to an UB compared to intact dogs, and crossbred dogs were found to have 1.43× the odds of a UB related death compared to purebred dogs. The breeds at highest risk were Australian cattle dogs (odds ratio (OR) 4.77) and American Staffordshire terriers (OR 4.69). The attending veterinarian referred behaviour cases to a behaviourist or dog trainer in 11.0% of all UB cases, and attempted pharmacological therapy in 5.9% of cases. The results reveal how often UBs affect dogs and their owners in Australia, and infer the beneficial impact that educating dog owners and veterinary professionals in modifying and managing UBs may have.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11020493DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7918417PMC
February 2021

The Reported Use of Tongue-Ties and Nosebands in Thoroughbred and Standardbred Horse Racing-A Pilot Study.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Feb 26;11(3). Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

This article reports on the results of a survey of racehorse trainers ( = 112) outlining the reasons for tongue-tie (TT) and noseband (NB) use by Thoroughbred trainers (TBTs) ( = 72) and Standardbred trainers (SBTs) ( = 40). The study also investigated the reported effectiveness of TTs and possible complications arising from their use. Tongue-tie use was reported by 62.5% ( = 70) of racehorse trainers. The reasons for TT use varied between TBTs and SBTs. For TBTs, the most common reason for TT use was to prevent or reduce airway obstruction (72.3%, = 34), followed closely by to prevent or reduce airway noise (55.3%, = 16). Standardbred trainers assigned equal importance for TT use [to prevent or reduce airway obstruction (69.6%, = 16) and to prevent the horse from moving its tongue over the bit (69.6%, = 16)]. Tongue-ties were considered significantly less effective at improving performance than at reducing airway obstruction and preventing the tongue from moving over the bit ( = -2.700, = 0.0007). For respondents who used both TTs and NBs, there was a mild to moderate positive association between the reasons for using TTs and NBs. Of the 70 TT-using respondents, 51.4% ( = 36) recorded having encountered either a physical or behavioural complication due to TT use, with redness/bruising of the tongue (20.0%, = 14) being the most common physical complication reported. Duration of use influenced the risk of observing complications. The likelihood of a respondent reporting a behavioural complication due to TT use increased with every minute of reported application and a nine-minute increment in application period doubled the odds of a respondent reporting a complication. Tightness was a risk factor for physical complications: Checking TT tightness by noting the tongue as not moving was associated with increased reporting of physical complications (OR = 6.59; CI 1.1-67.5). This pilot study provides some insight into how and why TTs are applied by some racehorse trainers, and the potential risks associated with their use. A further study of a larger cohort is recommended because these results are valid for only the 112 trainers who responded and cannot be generalized to the equine industry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11030622DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7996875PMC
February 2021

Inbreeding levels in an open-registry pedigreed dog breed: The Australian working kelpie.

Vet J 2021 Mar 15;269:105609. Epub 2021 Jan 15.

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

The depletion in genetic diversity of closed-pedigree dog breeds can be a contentious topic and can lead to calls for open-registry. However, strong evidence in support of proposed open-registry solutions is lacking, with the reproductive isolation of these breeds unlikely to be the sole cause of elevated inbreeding levels. Human-induced limitations, such as popular sire effects, are unlikely to be confined to closed-registry breeds and conceivably play an important role in maintaining genetic diversity within all breeds. Consequently, the aim of the current study was to explore inbreeding levels in an open-registry breed and determine the impact open-registry has on genetic diversity. Complete pedigree records on all Australian working kelpies (AWKs) were provided by the Working Kelpie Council with the cleaned pedigree consisting of 86,671 individuals with a median pedigree depth of 6.6 generations. The average inbreeding coefficient in the AWK population was 0.049 with an increase in inbreeding coefficient of 0.0016/year. This demonstrates that opening a breed registry can have a beneficial impact on the level of inbreeding within a population over the longer-term. However, allowing for a generation length of 5.1 years yielded an effective population size of 61 for AWKs and demonstrated a pattern consistent with closed-registry dog populations of comparable size.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tvjl.2021.105609DOI Listing
March 2021

Optimal Flow-A Pilot Study Balancing Sheep Movement and Welfare in Abattoirs.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Jan 29;11(2). Epub 2021 Jan 29.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia.

Abattoirs are faced with the challenge of moving livestock efficiently through the plant, while also engaging in handling practices that assure good animal welfare. Achieving optimal outcomes for both of these goals can bring them into conflict. An additional source of conflict can arise from the design of the abattoir. These problems are compounded by the dearth of research available to inform how livestock should be handled to achieve all of these goals. We applied the concept of 'Optimal Flow' to describe conditions under which rate of movement is maximised while overt signs of distress in sheep are minimised. Effectively, this represents the point at which trade-offs between speed and welfare converge. The current pilot study examined the behavioural interactions between humans ( = 5), livestock herding dogs ( = 7), and sheep ( = 3235) in a large Australian abattoir to describe the factors associated with an increase or decrease in rate of sheep movement per minute. It revealed that distress behaviours in sheep were associated with dog presence and with a decrease in livestock movement rate. However, we found that as sheep density increased, there was increased livestock movement rate as well as an elevated incidence of distress behaviours. Optimal Flow at this abattoir was achieved by maintaining sheep at lower densities. Our report discusses the possible confounds in this interpretation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11020344DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7912567PMC
January 2021

From the Horse's Perspective: Investigating Attachment Behaviour and the Effect of Training Method on Fear Reactions and Ease of Handling-A Pilot Study.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Feb 9;11(2). Epub 2021 Feb 9.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

The study investigated equine responses to novelty and handling, aiming to reveal whether horse-human relationships reflect criteria of an attachment bond. Twelve adult Standardbreds were subjected to a fear-eliciting test (novel objects presented close to two humans) and a handling test (being led passing novel objects) to study attachment-related behaviours and ease of handling. The tests were performed both before (pre-test) and after (post-test) horses had been trained by the same female handler (10 sessions of 15 min). Horses were assigned to three groups of four, each of which underwent different operant conditioning protocols: negative reinforcement (NR; pressure, release of lead, and whip tap signals) or combined NR with either positive reinforcement using food (PRf) or wither scratching (PRs). Results showed that neither familiarity of the person nor training method had a significant impact on the horses' behavioural responses in the post-tests. However, horses showed decreased heart rates between pre- and post-tests, which may indicate habituation, an effect of training per se, or that the presence of the familiar trainer served to calm the horses during the challenging situations. There were large individual variations among the horses' responses and further studies are needed to increase our understanding of horse-human relationships.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11020457DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916092PMC
February 2021

The Impact of the Sex of Handlers and Riders on the Reported Social Confidence, Compliance and Touch Sensitivity of Horses in Their Care.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Jan 8;11(1). Epub 2021 Jan 8.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia.

Current evidence of how human sex-related differences in riders and handlers may influence horse behaviour is limited. The Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) was used to collect demographic data on riders and handlers ( = 1420) and behavioural data on their horses. It includes demographic items about the sex of the respondent and how frequently the horse has been ridden or handled by male and female humans. The questionnaire then gathers observations on the horse's behaviour on the ground and under saddle or when driven Using E-BARQ's battery of 97 questions, the current study showed differences in ridden and non-ridden horse behaviour that were related to the sex of the rider or handler. Data were evaluated using multivariate analysis and revealed that horses handled by male humans were significantly more difficult to catch (-value = -3.11; = 0.002) and significantly more defensive when approached (-value = -2.104; = 0.035), but significantly less likely to pull on the reins/brace the neck or toss their head (-value 1.980; = 0.048) than horses handled more frequently by female humans. The differences found between male and female horse handlers suggest that sex is an important factor to consider when understanding equine behaviour. Our study explored reported differences in confidence, handling and working compliance and touch sensitivity among horses ridden and handled by male and female humans and suggested further research into how these differences are gendered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11010130DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827593PMC
January 2021

Influences on Infrared Thermography of the Canine Eye in Relation to the Stress and Arousal of Racing Greyhounds.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Jan 6;11(1). Epub 2021 Jan 6.

Faculty of Science, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Infrared thermography (IRT) can be used to identify stressors associated with greyhound racing procedures. However, factors unrelated to stress may influence measurements. Validation of an eye side (right or left) and a reference point on the eye is required if IRT is to be standardised for industry use. Infrared images of greyhound heads ( = 465) were taken pre-racing and post-racing at three racetracks. Average temperature was recorded at seven different locations on each eye. A multivariate analysis model determined how several factors influenced eye temperature (ET) pre-racing and post-racing. As expected, ET increased after racing, which may be attributed to physical exertion, stress and arousal. The right eye and lacrimal caruncle had the highest sensitivity to temperature changes and could be considered reference points for future studies. Additionally, dogs that raced later had higher ET, and Richmond racetrack had the lowest pre-race ET, but the highest post-race ET. This may suggest that arousal increases as the race meet progresses and certain track attributes could increase stress. Furthermore, ET increased as humidity increased, and higher post-race ET was associated with light-coloured, young and low-performing dogs. Environmental and biological factors need to be considered if IRT is to become accurate in the detection of canine stress and monitoring of greyhound welfare.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11010103DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7825601PMC
January 2021

Equine Responses to Acceleration and Deceleration Cues May Reflect Their Exposure to Multiple Riders.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Dec 31;11(1). Epub 2020 Dec 31.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

It is logical to assume that horses with multiple riders encounter variation in application of training cues. When training cues are inconsistent, we expect to see a decrease in trained responses or an increase in conflict behaviours. This study investigated the relationship between the number of people that regularly ride or handle a horse and the horse's response to operant cues. Data on 1819 equids were obtained from the Equine Behavior Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ), an online global survey of horse owners and caregivers. Three mutually independent indices (acceleration, deceleration, and responsiveness) were derived from a parallel analysis of E-BARQ items related to acceleration and deceleration cues. These indices were then subjected to multivariable modelling against a range of dependent variables including horse and human demographics, horse management, and the number of riders or handlers. The number of riders or handlers was a significant predictor for two out of three indices. As the number of riders or handlers increased, horses were more difficult to accelerate (regression coefficient = 0.0148 ± 0.0071; = 0.0366) and less difficult to decelerate (regression coefficient = -0.017 ± 0.008; = 0.030) than those with fewer riders or handlers. These findings suggest that horses' responses to rein tension cues are more persistent than their responses to leg pressure or whip cues. Alternatively, horses with these responses may be actively selected for multiple rider roles. Longitudinal studies of this sort should reveal how the number of riders or handlers affects horse behaviour and could lead to safer and more humane equestrian practices.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11010066DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7823401PMC
December 2020

Associations between Owners' Reports of Unwanted Ridden Behaviour and In-Hand Behaviour in Horses.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Dec 18;10(12). Epub 2020 Dec 18.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia.

An evidence-based understanding of dangerous or unwelcome behaviour in horses would greatly benefit both horses and humans who interact with them. Using owner-reported data from the Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ), the current study investigated in-hand behaviours associated with dangerous or unwelcome ridden behaviours, notably bolting, rearing and bucking. Respondents ( = 1584) to the ridden horse section of the E-BARQ answered 42 demographic questions, followed by 268 behavioural items. Parallel analysis was conducted to group individual behaviours into rotated components to create independent and dependent indices. Multivariable general linear modelling and ordinal logistic regression were used to identify behaviours associated with bolting, rearing and bucking. Results revealed that safety-from-bolt increased as social confidence with horses (Odds ratio (OR) = 1.06; 95% confidence interval (cf = 1.02-1.09) and other animals (OR = 1.08; cf = 1.03-1.12), compliance in-hand (OR = 1.10; cf = 1.06-1.16) and tolerance of restraint (OR = 1.05; cf = 1.0-1.11) increased; and decreased as loading problems (OR = 0.95; cf = 0.92-0.99) increased. Safety-from-rear increased as tolerance of restraint (OR = 1.07; cf = 1.02-1.12) and social confidence with other animals (OR = 1.05; cf = 1.01-1.09) increased; and decreased as loading problems (OR = 0.94; cf = 0.91-0.98) increased. Safety-from-buck increased as social confidence with horses (b-value = 0.011, < 0.001) and other animals (b-value = 0.010, = 0.002), compliance in-hand (b-value = 0.015, < 0.001), tolerance of restraint (b-value = 0.009, = 0.027) and tolerance of haltering/bridling (b-value = 0.016, = 0.010) increased, and it decreased as loading problems increased (b-value = -0.011, < 0.001). By revealing, for the first time, that specific behaviours on the ground are associated with particular responses in the same horses when ridden, this study advances equitation science considerably. Identification of risk factors for dangerous behaviour while under saddle can improve safety for horses and riders and highlights the importance of effective and humane in-hand training.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10122431DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7766975PMC
December 2020

Age-Related Changes in the Behaviour of Domestic Horses as Reported by Owners.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Dec 7;10(12). Epub 2020 Dec 7.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia.

The broad traits of boldness and independence in domestic horses can affect their usefulness and, indirectly, their welfare. The objective of the current study was to explore associations between attributes that reflect equine boldness and independence with both the age of horses and the age at which they were started under saddle, as well as other variables including breed, colour and primary equestrian discipline. All data were sourced from responses ( = 1940) to the 97-question online Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ). Twenty E-BARQ items from the dataset were selected to reflect boldness and independence and were tested for univariate significance at < 0.2. Multivariable modelling of the effect of age on remaining traits was assessed by an ordinal logistic regression, using a cumulative log odds model. This revealed that older horses were bolder ( = 0.012). However, horses started under saddle at an older age were less bold and less independent ( = 0.040 and = 0.010, respectively). Australian Stock Horses were bolder and more independent ( = 0.014 and = 0.007, respectively) than crossbreed horses. Horses used for breeding conformation ( = 0.039), working equitation ( = 0.045), eventing ( = 0.044) and traditional working horses ( = 0.034) were bolder than those used for other disciplines. Dressage ( = 0.039) and therapy ( = 0.040) horses were less bold than horses used for other disciplines. Stallions were bolder ( = -0.034) than geldings. Brown ( = 0.049) and chestnut ( = 0.027) horses were less bold than bay horses. Compared to crossbreed horses, Thoroughbreds ( = 0.000) and companion horses ( = 0.017) were less bold whilst heavy horses ( = 0.029) and ponies ( = 0.044) were bolder. Compared to pleasure horses, mounted games horses ( = 0.033) were less independent whereas working equitation horses ( = 0.020) were more independent. Riders with more than eight years' experience reported more independence in their horses ( = 0.015) than those who had ridden their whole lives. The study findings suggest that boldness and independence are separate traits and only boldness was associated with the age of the horse. Factors that relate to desirable boldness and independence are important in ridden horses because they can affect rider safety. Results from this study should improve horse-rider matching and thereby potentially enhance horse welfare.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10122321DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7762420PMC
December 2020

Reported Motivations and Aims of Australian Dog Breeders-A Pilot Study.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Dec 7;10(12). Epub 2020 Dec 7.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

It is estimated that around 40% of Australian households currently own dogs that have been acquired from a variety of sources, including purpose-bred litters. However, little is known about how litters are being planned, whelped, and raised and less still on what motivates breeders to adopt their current practices. The current study used on online survey to explore the motivations and aims of Australian dog breeders; the breeding and selling practices Australian dog breeders favor and the extent to which breeders classify their breeding in terms of business, or hobby. Responses from breeders (n = 275) revealed that whilst most did not commence breeding to make financial gain, 86% of participants who answered the question confirmed that the making of money when they breed was a very important aim. Most breeders did not view their breeding as a commercial activity, despite nearly 20% of them confirming that they had declared income from the breeding and selling of puppies to the Australian Taxation Office.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10122319DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7762288PMC
December 2020

Effects of Lure Type on Chase-Related Behaviour in Racing Greyhounds.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Dec 1;10(12). Epub 2020 Dec 1.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia.

The willingness of racing greyhounds in Australia to chase a mechanical lure on racetracks will affect the longevity of its racing career. Racing greyhounds that fail to chase may be retired from racing at an early age and their fate becomes uncertain and may in some cases be euthanasia. At the end of races, greyhounds are diverted into a catching pen while the lure continues on. Racing greyhounds may also run on straight tracks for training purposes, where the lure comes to a stop either within the catching pen or just outside it, rather than continuing on. The purpose of the current study was to determine if these different track conditions and lure features affected greyhound behaviour before and after chasing the lure. Video cameras were used to record the behaviour of greyhounds immediately before chasing a lure either on one of two straight trial tracks ( = 89 greyhounds) or during race-meets on oval racetracks ( = 537), as well as at the end of the chase in the catching pen. The results were analysed with logistic regression mixed models and coefficients expressed as odds ratios. It was predicted there would be a higher frequency of behaviours indicating frustration in the catching pen at tracks where no chase objects were accessible. This pattern was present, but not significant. It was also predicted there would be a higher frequency of behaviours that may indicate high anticipation before chasing at tracks where chase objects were accessible in the catching pen. This pattern was not realised. Behaviours prior to chasing varied between track types and days, suggesting these behaviours are unlikely to be good indicators of anticipation or motivation to chase. This study shows that greyhounds behave differently in the catching pen depending on the track and lure features.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10122262DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7760772PMC
December 2020

Social License and Animal Welfare: Developments from the Past Decade in Australia.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Nov 28;10(12). Epub 2020 Nov 28.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.

"Social license to operate" (SLO) refers to the implicit process by which a community gives an industry approval to conduct its current business activities. It has become an important focus for many natural resource management fields (especially mining), but there is less awareness of its role in animal use industries. This article describes how animal welfare has recently become arguably the most crucial consideration underpinning the SLO for Australian animal use industries. It describes several industries in Australia that have faced animal welfare scrutiny in the past decade (2010-2020) to illustrate how persistent issues can erode SLO, lead to regulatory bans, and decimate previously profitable industries. Industries described include the live export of livestock, greyhound and horse racing, kangaroo harvesting, and dairy and sheep farming. In these cases, there has been intense public discourse but little scholarly progress. This article examines factors that may have contributed to these developments and suggests approaches that may assist these industries in maintaining their SLO. Animal welfare has become a mainstream societal concern in Australia, and effective management of the community's expectations will be essential for the maintenance of SLO for many animal use industries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10122237DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7760378PMC
November 2020

A Comparative Neuro-Histological Assessment of Gluteal Skin Thickness and Cutaneous Nociceptor Distribution in Horses and Humans.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Nov 11;10(11). Epub 2020 Nov 11.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

The current project aims to build on knowledge of the nociceptive capability of equine skin to detect superficial acute pain, particularly in comparison to human skin. Post-mortem samples of gluteal skin were taken from men ( = 5) and women ( = 5), thoroughbreds and thoroughbred types (mares, = 11; geldings, = 9). Only sections that contained epidermis and dermis through to the hypodermis were analysed. Epidermal depth, dermal depth and epidermal nerve counts were conducted by a veterinary pathologist. The results revealed no significant difference between the epidermal nerve counts of humans and horses ( = 0.051, = 0.960). There were no significant differences between epidermal thickness of humans (26.8 µm) and horses (31.6 µm) for reference (left side) samples ( = 0.117, = 0.908). The human dermis was significantly thinner than the horse dermis ( = -2.946, = 0.007). Epidermal samples were thicker on the right than on the left, but only significantly so for horses ( = 2.291, = 0.023), not for humans ( = 0.694, = 0.489). The thicker collagenous dermis of horse skin may afford some resilience versus external mechanical trauma, though as this is below the pain-detecting nerve endings, it is not considered protective from external cutaneous pain. The superficial pain-sensitive epidermal layer of horse skin is as richly innervated and is of equivalent thickness as human skin, demonstrating that humans and horses have the equivalent basic anatomic structures to detect cutaneous pain. This finding challenges assumptions about the physical capacity of horses to feel pain particularly in comparison to humans, and presents physical evidence to inform the discussion and debate regarding the ethics of whipping horses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10112094DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7696388PMC
November 2020

Is Whip Use Important to Thoroughbred Racing Integrity? What Stewards' Reports Reveal about Fairness to Punters, Jockeys and Horses.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Oct 29;10(11). Epub 2020 Oct 29.

School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

The idea that whip use is critical to thoroughbred racing integrity is culturally entrenched but lacks empirical support. To test the longstanding beliefs that whip use aids steering, reduces interference, increases safety and improves finishing times, we conducted a mixed-method analysis of 126 race reports produced by official stewards of the British Horseracing Authority, representing 1178 jockeys and their horses. We compared reports from 67 "Hands and Heels" races, where whips are held but not used (whipping-free, WF), with 59 reports from case-matched races where whipping was permitted (whipping permitted, WP). Qualitative coding was used to identify and categorise units of analysis for statistical testing via logistic regression and linear mixed model regression. For both types of race, we explored stewards having anything to report at all, movement on course, interference on course, incidents related to jockey behaviour and finishing times. There were no statistically significant differences between WF and WP races for anything to report (OR: 3.06; CI: 0.74-14.73), movement on course (OR: 0.90; CI: 0.37-2.17), interference (OR: 0.90; CI: 0.37-2.17), jockey-related incidents (OR: 1.24; CI: 0.32-5.07), and race times (0.512 s, = 1.459, = 0.150). That is, we found no evidence that whip use improves steering, reduces interference, increases safety or improves finishing times. These findings suggest that the WF races do not compromise racing integrity. They also highlight the need for more effective ways to improve the steering of horses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10111985DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7693319PMC
October 2020

Validation of the Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ): A New Survey Instrument for Exploring and Monitoring the Domestic Equine Triad.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Oct 28;10(11). Epub 2020 Oct 28.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia.

The Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) was developed to obtain quantitative data on the domestic equine triad: training, management and behaviour. It can be taken repeatedly, thus collecting longitudinal data to enable evaluation of how changes in a horse's training and management are reflected in that horse's behaviour over time and how these changes can impact horse welfare in the longer term. Questionnaire validation and reliability were tested by determining (a) whether an owner's subjective ratings of their horse's problematic behaviours or undesirable temperament traits were reflected in the questionnaire scores obtained for that horse (construct validity), (b) whether two respondents, equally familiar with a particular horse, reported comparable scores for that horse through the questionnaire (inter-rater reliability), and (c) whether the same respondent, scoring the same horse after a known interval of time, recorded similar responses (intra-rater reliability). Construct validity testing of 1923 responses showed significant alignment between owners' reported experience of focal horses' behaviour and those horses' E-BARQ scores, with scores varying from 1.13 to 1.34 for ridden horse behaviour (all < 0.001) and from 1.06 to 1.43 for non-ridden horse behaviour (all < 0.001). Inter-rater reliability testing of ten horse-rider pairs revealed that 203 of the 215 question items were significantly aligned ( < 0.001) when tested by two independent raters. Of the remaining 19 items, four had fair alignment (ĸ = 0.174-0.316; = 0.281) and ten items, largely related to whether the horse shows behavioural signs related to anxiety when taken away from home, did not align (ĸ = 0; = 1). Intra-rater reliability tests showed that the responses significantly aligned on all 215 question items tested ( < 0.001). The results of these tests confirmed the construct validity and reliability of E-BARQ as a standardised behavioural assessment tool for horses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10111982DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7692587PMC
October 2020

The Development of a Novel Questionnaire Approach to the Investigation of Horse Training, Management, and Behaviour.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Oct 24;10(11). Epub 2020 Oct 24.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown NSW 2006, Australia.

The Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) is a questionnaire instrument developed to obtain quantitative data on the domestic equine triad of training, management, and behaviour of horses. The E-BARQ was developed to identify how changes in training and management impact behaviour over time, to define normal behaviour in horses, and to discover how to improve rider safety and horse welfare, leading to ethical equitation. During the development of the E-BARQ, we also investigated how best to motivate stakeholders to engage with this citizen science project. The pilot version of the E-BARQ collected qualitative data on respondents' experience of the questionnaire. The pilot questionnaire was developed with the assistance of an international panel (with professional expertise in horse training, equitation science, veterinary science, equestrian coaching, welfare, animal behaviour, and elite-level riding), and was used to collect data on 1320 horses from approximately 1194 owner/caregiver respondents, with an option for respondents to provide free-text feedback. A Rotated Principal Component Analysis of the 218 behavioural, management, and training questionnaire items extracted a total of 65 rotated components. Thirty-six of the 65 rotated components demonstrated high internal reliability. Of the 218 questionnaire items, 43 items failed to reach the Rotated Principal Component Analysis criteria and were not included in the final version of the E-BARQ. Survey items that failed the Rotated Principal Component Analysis inclusion criteria were discarded if found to have a less than 85% response rate, or a variance of less than 1.3. Of those that survived the Rotated Principal Component Analysis, items were further assigned to horse temperament (17 rotated components), equitation (11 rotated components), and management and equipment (8 rotated components) groups. The feedback from respondents indicated the need for further items to be added to the questionnaire, resulting in a total of 214 items for the final E-BARQ survey. Many of these items were further grouped into question matrices, and the demographic items for horse and handler included, giving a final total of 97 questions on the E-BARQ questionnaire. These results provided content validity, showing that the questionnaire items were an acceptable representation of the entire horse training, management, and behavioural domain for the development of the final E-BARQ questionnaire.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10111960DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7693391PMC
October 2020

The 2020 Five Domains Model: Including Human-Animal Interactions in Assessments of Animal Welfare.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Oct 14;10(10). Epub 2020 Oct 14.

Saddletops Pty Ltd., P.O. Box 557, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia.

Throughout its 25-year history, the Five Domains Model for animal welfare assessment has been regularly updated to include at each stage the latest authenticated developments in animal welfare science thinking. The domains of the most up-to-date Model described here are: 1 Nutrition, 2 Physical Environment, 3 Health, 4 Behavioural Interactions and 5 Mental State. The first four domains focus attention on factors that give rise to specific negative or positive subjective experiences (affects), which contribute to the animal's mental state, as evaluated in Domain 5. More specifically, the first three domains focus mainly on factors that disturb or disrupt particular features of the body's internal stability. Each disturbed or disrupted feature generates sensory inputs which are processed by the brain to form specific negative affects, and these affects are associated with behaviours that act to restore the body's internal stability. As each such behaviour is essential for the survival of the animal, the affects associated with them are collectively referred to as "survival-critical affects". In contrast, Domain 4, now named Behavioural Interactions, focusses on evidence of animals consciously seeking specific goals when interacting behaviourally with (1) the environment, (2) other non-human animals and (3) as a new feature of the Model outlined here, humans. The associated affects, evaluated via Domain 5, are mainly generated by brain processing of sensory inputs elicited by external stimuli. The success of the animals' behavioural attempts to achieve their chosen goals is reflected in whether the associated affects are negative or positive. Collectively referred to as "situation-related affects", these outcomes are understood to contribute to animals' perceptions of their external circumstances. These observations reveal a key distinction between the way survival-critical and situation-related affects influence animals' aligned behaviours. The former mainly reflect compelling motivations to engage in genetically embedded behavioural responses, whereas the latter mainly involve conscious behavioural choices which are the hallmarks of agency. Finally, numerous examples of human-animal interactions and their attendant affects are described, and the qualitative grading of interactions that generate negative or positive affect is also illustrated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10101870DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7602120PMC
October 2020

Identifying Sources of Potential Bias When Using Online Survey Data to Explore Horse Training, Management, and Behaviour: A Systematic Literature Review.

Vet Sci 2020 Sep 22;7(3). Epub 2020 Sep 22.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Owner-reported behavioural observations form an essential part of the veterinarians' diagnosis and treatment plan. The way we train and manage horses affects their behaviour and, in turn, their health and welfare. Current horse training and management practices are largely driven by traditional techniques and longstanding methodologies. These approaches generally lack an evidence base for evaluation purposes. The absence of evidence and evaluation contributes to the persistent use of risky practices and this, in turn, increases risk of potential harms for both horse and rider, and fuels questioning of the equine industry's current social license to operate. Objective evidence is required to make training and management decisions based on demonstrable best practice. Large-scale experimental or intervention studies using horses are generally not practical because of the associated costs and logistics of gaining ethical approval. Small studies generally lack statistical power and are subject to the effects of many forms of bias that demand caution in the interpretation of any observed effects. An alternative to collecting large amounts of empirical data is the use of owner-reported observations via online survey. Horse owners are ideally placed to report on the domestic equine triad of training, management, and behaviour. The current article highlights three sources of potential bias in a systematic review of literature on large-scale online studies of horse owners' observational reports that met the following selection criteria: English-language, published, peer-reviewed articles reporting on studies with over 1000 respondents and open access to the survey instrument. The online surveys were evaluated for three common forms of bias: recall, confirmation, and sampling bias. This review reveals that online surveys are useful for gathering data on the triad of horse training, management, and behaviour. However, current use of online surveys to collect data on equitation science (including horse training, management, and behaviour) could be improved by using a standardised and validated tool. Such a tool would facilitate comparisons among equine and equitation science studies, thus advancing our understanding of the impacts of training and management on horse behaviour. The authors of the current review suggest the use of a standardised behavioural and management assessment tool for horses. Such a tool would help define what constitutes normal behaviour within geographically disparate populations of horses, leading to improvements in rider safety and horse welfare.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vetsci7030140DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7558402PMC
September 2020

Prevalence and Distribution of Lesions in the Nasal Bones and Mandibles of a Sample of 144 Riding Horses.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Sep 16;10(9). Epub 2020 Sep 16.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Restrictive nosebands are used in equestrian sports to hold the bit in place and reduce mouth-opening, a response that can attract penalties in some sports and is thought to reduce the rider's control of the horse. Sustained pressure from such tightly fitted (restrictive) nosebands denies normal behaviour and thus, causes frustration and distress that can jeopardise horse welfare. It also may push the cheek against the molar teeth, compress soft tissues including blood vessels and nerves, and possibly induce chronic changes to underlying bone. This study of mature cavalry horses ( = 144) was designed to explore relationships between visual and palpable damage to structures that underlie the nosebands of horses and any related bony changes in those horses as evidenced by radiography. Working independently of each other, two researchers inspected the horses for visual changes and palpable changes before the horses were radiographed. The radiographs were assessed by a separate pair of veterinary radiologists, again working independently of each other. Among the current population of horses, 37.5% had one or more radiographic changes to the nasal bones according to both radiologists, and 13.8% had one or more radiographic changes to the mandible. For nasal bones, the two radiologists reported bone deposition in 6.9% and 8.3% of the horses and bone thinning in 33.3% and 56.9% of the horses, respectively. By palpation, they found that 82% and 84% of the horses had palpable bone deposition of the nasal bones and 32% and 33.4% had palpable bone thinning. For the mandibles, the radiologists reported increased bone deposition in 18.8% and 32.6% of the horses but no bone thinning. By palpation, the two examiners reported 30.6% and 32.7% of the horses had palpable bone deposition and 10.4% and 11.1% had palpable bone thinning. This is the first report of lesions to the mandible at this site and this article presents the first confirmation of bony lesions at the site typically subjected to pressure from restrictive nosebands. These results suggest that radiographic bone thinning is more apparent in the nasal bones of riding horses than in the mandible and that both palpable and radiographic bone deposition are more likely in the mandible than in the nasal bones. That said, we note that the current study provides no evidence of a causal link between any piece of gear or its putative tightness and the lesions in these anatomical locations. Further studies are needed to identify risk factors for these clusters of lesions. The inadvertent deformation of bones in the horse's head for competitive advantage is difficult to justify on ethical grounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10091661DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7552251PMC
September 2020

Building Bridges between Theory and Practice: How Citizen Science Can Bring Equine Researchers and Practitioners Together.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Sep 13;10(9). Epub 2020 Sep 13.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia.

Over the last decade, equitation scientists have increasingly relied on online survey tools to gather information on horse training, management, behaviour and other equine-related subjects. With a detailed knowledge of their animals, horse owners and riders are ideally placed to contribute to research but are sometimes reluctant to engage with and devote time to surveys. The current article reveals, through consultation with stakeholder groups, the potential of a range of motivational items to boost horse-owner participation. A short, three-question inquiry was developed to rank respondents' ( = 747) preferred survey tools and other items designed to engage the equestrian community with the donation of data. Respondents were asked to assign themselves to one of four categories: academics/researchers, professionals, practitioners and enthusiasts. The inquiry offered respondents the choice of three hypothetical tools: a standardised tool to measure behaviour over time; a logbook tool to record training and behaviour on a regular basis; and a chart to compare an individual horse's behaviour with that of the general horse population. While analysis revealed that stakeholders considered at least one of the tools to be useful, it also exposed significant differences among the perceived usefulness of the various tools themselves. Using free-text responses, participants described the challenges faced when gathering information on horse training, management and behaviour. Qualitative analysis of these data revealed the need to improve the current dissemination of scientific findings to bridge various knowledge gaps. The Equine Behavior Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ) is a longitudinal instrument that investigates horse training and management practices and permits an analysis of their relationship with behaviour. The current stakeholder consultation contributed to the final version of the E-BARQ questionnaire, identified incentivising items that can be offered to putative E-BARQ respondents, guided the eventual selection of a feedback chart, and reinforced the need for open-access dissemination of findings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10091644DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7552242PMC
September 2020

The Australian Roadkill Reporting Project-Applying Integrated Professional Research and Citizen Science to Monitor and Mitigate Roadkill in Australia.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Jun 29;10(7). Epub 2020 Jun 29.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Australia has no national roadkill monitoring scheme. To address this gap in knowledge, a roadkill reporting application (app) was developed to allow members of the public to join professional researchers in gathering Australian data. The app is used to photograph roadkill and simultaneously records the GPS location, time and date. These data are uploaded immediately to a website for data management. To illustrate the capacity to facilitate cost-effective mitigation measures the article focuses on two roadkill hotspots-in Queensland and Tasmania. In total, 1609 reports were gathered in the first three months of the project. They include data on mammals ( = 1203, 75%), birds ( = 125, 7.8%), reptiles ( = 79, 4.9%), amphibians ( = 4, 0.025%), unidentified ( = 189, 11.8%) and unserviceable ones ( = 9). A significant finding is variance in the distribution of mammals and birds at different times of day. These findings reflect diurnal variation in the activity levels of different species and underline the need for data on a targeted species to be collected at appropriate times of day. By continuing to facilitate roadkill monitoring, it is anticipated that the data generated by the app will directly increase knowledge of roadkill numbers and hotspots. Indirectly, it will provide value-added information on animal behaviour, disease and population dynamics as well as for species distribution mapping.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10071112DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7401535PMC
June 2020

Using infrared thermography on farm of origin to predict meat quality and physiological response in cattle (Bos Taurus) exposed to transport and marketing.

Meat Sci 2020 Nov 29;169:108173. Epub 2020 Apr 29.

The University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Camden, NSW 2570, Australia.

Temperature is used as an indicator of animals' response to external stimuli and thus it could potentially be used as an indicator or poor animal welfare and meat quality. Remote monitoring of temperature can be achieved using infrared thermography (IRT) at the farm of origin before animals are sent to slaughter. Relationships between temperatures of cattle measured using IRT on-farm and potential indicators of stress and meat quality were investigated in 481 cattle in 2 experiments, one with sea transport and another with land transport. On-farm measurements included IRT and behavioural assessment of temperament along with measurement of physiological indicators of stress and carcass traits post-mortem. Significant correlations were found between IRT and meat pH, meat colour, creatine kinase, glucose, non-esterified fatty acids, magnesium, and temperament (P < .05). That said, these correlations did not persist across both experiments. Current findings suggest that on-farm IRT could have the potential to assist with the detection of compromised animal welfare and predict meat quality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2020.108173DOI Listing
November 2020

Positive attitudes towards feline obesity are strongly associated with ownership of obese cats.

PLoS One 2020 25;15(6):e0234190. Epub 2020 Jun 25.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia.

Overweight and obesity (O&O) is a risk factor for several health conditions and can result in a shorter lifespan for cats. The objectives of this study were to investigate (a) cat owners' attitudes towards feline O&O and their associations with O&O in their cats; and (b) the risk factors for feline O&O and underweight, particularly those involving owner practice. An online survey comprising questions related to cat owners' attitudes towards feline O&O, owner-reported body weight and body condition of their cat, and potential risk factors for feline O&O was conducted. Primarily targeting the Australian population, the survey attracted 1,390 valid responses. In response to ten attitude-related questions, more participants (percentage range among the ten questions: 39.1-76.6%) held a disapproving attitude towards feline O&O than a neutral (17.1-31.9%) or approving attitude (3.9-27.7%). A greater proportion of participants had a more disapproving attitude towards obesity than towards overweight. Cats belonging to owners with an approving attitude towards O&O were more likely to be overweight or obese than cats belonging to owners with a disapproving attitude towards O&O. The cats had particularly high odds of overweight or obesity if their owner agreed that 'being chubby says that the cat has a quality life' (OR: 3.75, 95% CI: 2.41-5.82) and 'being fat says that the cat has a quality life' (OR: 4.98, 95%CI: 2.79-8.91). This study revealed, for the first time, that begging for food was a risk factor for O&O in cats. Other important feline risk factors for O&O identified included being middle-aged, being mixed-breed, dry food as the major diet, the amount of feed not being quantified, and frequently spending time indoors. Being over 11 years, receiving no dry food and receiving measured amounts of feed were associated with an increased odds of underweight in cats. As specific attitudes often lead to certain behaviours, reducing approving attitudes towards feline O&O may potentially reduce the frequency of O&O and the risks of O&O-related disorders in cats.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0234190PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7316328PMC
August 2020

A Pilot Study of Methods for Evaluating the Effects of Arousal and Emotional Valence on Performance of Racing Greyhounds.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Jun 15;10(6). Epub 2020 Jun 15.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia.

The racing greyhound industry in Australia has come under scrutiny in recent years due to animal welfare concerns, including wastage where physically sound greyhounds fail to enter or are removed from the racing industry because of poor performance. The reasons why some greyhounds perform poorly in racing are not well understood, but may include insufficient reinforcement for racing or negative affective states in response to the race meet environment. The current study investigated ways to measure affective states of greyhounds ( = 525) at race meets across three racetracks and the factors influencing performance by collecting behavioural and demographic data, and infrared thermographic images of greyhounds' eyes at race meets. Increasing Eye Temp After had a negative association with performance (n = 290, Effect = -0.173, s.e. = 0.074, -value = 0.027), as did increasing age (n = 290, Effect = -0.395, s.e. = 0.136, -value = 0.004). The start box number also had a significant association, with boxes 4, 5 and 7 having an inverse relationship with performance. There was a significant effect of racetrack on mean eye temperatures before and after the race ( = 442, Effect = 1.910, s.e. = 0.274, -value < 0.001; Effect = 1.595, s.e. = 0.1221, value < 0.001 for Gosford and Wentworth respectively), suggesting that some tracks may be inherently more stressful for greyhounds than others. Mean eye temperature before the race increased as the race meet progressed ( = 442, Effect = 0.103, s.e. = 0.002, -value < 0.001). Behaviours that may indicate frustration in the catching pen were extremely common at two of the tracks but much less common at the third, where toys attached to bungees were used to draw greyhounds into the catching pen.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10061037DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7341205PMC
June 2020

Morphometric Characteristics of the Skull in Horses and Donkeys-A Pilot Study.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Jun 8;10(6). Epub 2020 Jun 8.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Horses and donkeys belong to the genus Equus, but important differences exist between the species, many of which affect their management and welfare. This study compared skull morphology between horses and donkeys. Horse ( = 14) and donkey ( = 16) heads were obtained post-mortem, sectioned sagittally close to the midline, and photographed for subsequent measurement of various skull structures. Skull, cranial, nasal, and profile indices were calculated for topographical comparisons between the species. The olfactory bulb area (OBA), OB pitch (the angle between the hard palate and the OB axis), and whorl location (WL) were also measured. A General Linear Model determined the main effect of species with Sidak's multiple comparisons of species' differences among the various measurements. There was no species difference in cranial or nasal indices ( > 0.13), but donkeys had a larger cranial profile than horses ( < 0.04). Donkeys had a smaller OBA ( < 0.05) and a steeper OB pitch ( < 0.02) than horses. The WL corresponded to the level of the OB in horses but was extremely rostral in donkeys ( < 0.0001). These results show clear differentiation in skull morphology between horses and donkeys. This may be useful in validating other physiological and behavioural differences between horses and donkeys.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10061002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7341236PMC
June 2020

Does dog acquisition improve physical activity, sedentary behaviour and biological markers of cardiometabolic health? Results from a three-arm controlled study.

BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med 2020 8;6(1):e000703. Epub 2020 Apr 8.

Charles Perkins Centre, Prevention Research Collaboration, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Objectives: Dog ownership has been associated with improved cardiometabolic risk factors, including physical activity. Most of the evidence originates from cross-sectional studies or populations with established disease. This study investigated changes in physical activity and other cardiometabolic risk factors following dog acquisition in a sample of 71 community-dwelling adults.

Methods: Participants self-allocated to three groups: 17 individuals acquired a dog within 1 month of baseline (dog acquisition), 29 delayed dog acquisition until study completion (lagged control) and 25 had no interest in dog acquisition (community control). Self-reported and thigh-worn accelerometer-based physical activity patterns, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, resting heart rate and VOmax were measured three times: baseline, 3 months and 8 months. Data were analysed using repeated measures analysis of covariance with owner age, season, sex and education included as covariates. Post hoc between-group tests were performed where there were significant overall effects (p<0.05).

Results: We found significant effects in mean daily steps (4,64)=3.02, p=0.02) and sit-to-stand transitions ((4,66)=3.49, p=0.01). The dog acquisition group performed an additional 2589 steps (p=0.004) and 8.2 sit-to-stand transitions (p=0.03) per day at 3 months, although these effects were not maintained at 8 months. We found a significant effect in self-reported weekly walking duration ((4,130)=2.84, p=0.03) among the lagged control group with an 80 min increase between 3 and 8 months (p=0.04). Other cardiometabolic risk factors were unchanged following dog acquisition.

Conclusion: Our study provides encouraging results that suggest a positive influence of dog acquisition on physical activity in the short term but larger and more generalisable controlled studies are needed.

Trial Registration Number: ACTRN12617000967381.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000703DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7254141PMC
April 2020

The Reported Use of Nosebands in Racing and Equestrian Pursuits.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Apr 30;10(5). Epub 2020 Apr 30.

Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

This article reports on the results of a survey designed to explore the types of nosebands that owners, riders and trainers use in training and competition, their reasons for using nosebands, the design preferences in different disciplines and approaches to noseband tightness and monitoring, as well as the incidence of negative impacts related to noseband usage. Respondents ( = 3040) were asked to specify the type of noseband they were currently using and to rate how effective they were in achieving these stated reasons. Respondents who used nosebands ( = 2332) most commonly used Plain Cavesson (46.6%, = 1087) and Hanoverian (24.8%, = 579) nosebands. The reasons provided in the survey for noseband usage were grouped into three broad, mutually exclusive categories: Anatomical; Consequential and Passive. Responses across these categories were fairly evenly distributed overall: Anatomical (29.5%, = 1501), Consequential (30.6%, = 1560), Passive (32.9%, = 1673) and other reasons (7.0%, = 358). Across all respondents ( = 2332), the most common Anatomical reason given was to (20.8%, = 485), the most common Consequential reason was to (20.4%, = 476), with (30.2%, = 705) the most popular Passive reason. Of the respondents who answered the question of checking noseband tightness ( = 2295), most reported checking noseband tightness at the bridge of the nose (62.1%, = 1426), some (10.4%, = 238) reported checking for tightness on the side of the face and others under the chin (21.5%, = 496). This survey also revealed some of the potential issues associated with noseband use, with 18.6% ( = 434) reporting at least one physical or behavioural complication. The most common complication was hair loss under the noseband (39.9%, n = 173). Crank systems were reported to be used by 28.9% (n = 665) of respondents. This is of concern as these devices can be excessively tightened, minimising jaw and tongue movement and may compromise horse welfare. Indeed, the current data in our study show that these devices are associated with an increased risk of complications being reported. Against the backdrop of potential harm to horse welfare associated with restrictive nosebands, this report may serve as a guide for future regulations and research. It helps improve our understanding of noseband preferences and their use in different disciplines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10050776DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7278451PMC
April 2020
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