Introduction Aim of this preliminary study was to evaluate the animal welfare in a dog involved in sessions of Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) with people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Specifically, our task was to evaluate, after the possible adoption of a kennel dog by structures for elderly and people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, the effects on animal welfare either of this special pet ownership and of sessions of AAA. Our study was set in the frame of a wider project which has involved several structures under the coordination of the “Social Security and Health Service” of the Province of Bologna. Other structures involved as operative team included the University of Bologna (Faculties of Veterinary Medicine, of Psycology, of Education and Formation’s Science ) and the ASL (Local Health Service) of Bologna. Material and methods The study consisted of several phases. The first step consisted in the physical and behavioural evaluation of kennel dogs in order to establish if the dog could fit with the requirements for adoption. Several dogs met the requirements and finally one was gradually introduced in the single structure which gave availability to the project. Introduction of the dog was performed gradually, meeting first the structure operators and then the patients. After introduction, the dog performed, on weekly basis, three to four AAA sessions of the duration of 20 minutes each. The behavioural patterns of the dog were evaluated for a period of six months either during the visits of the introduction phase and during the individual AAA sessions. The final evaluation was done integrating interviews to the operators with the direct observation of the dog during nine AAA sessions. Observations were translated into a score system. To improve the objectivity of the findings, fecal and hairy cortisol measurements have been performed on a regular basis. Results and discussion The conclusive findings of the observation during the whole period of evaluation were very positive and suggest that the dog was able to adapt to the new situation, activities and social interactions. During the whole observation, the dog was healthy and his level of activity increased during the period. Playing and explorative activity, and interaction with people improved showing a gradual positive integration with the environment. During the gradual introduction the dog showed signs of stress (tachipnea, scialorrea, ipervigilancy, low posture and other calming signals) probably due to the car travel from the kennel, introduction in a new environment and to new people. After the definitive adoption, during the first sessions of AAA the dog showed signals of stress but after some weeks they gradually disappeared and the dog became able to react adequately. The measurement of fecal cortisol, related to acute stress, and the trend of hairy cortisol, more helpful to evaluate long term stress, were apparently correlated with the clinical and behavioural findings. Conclusion Even if related to a single dog, the positive results of our study may represent an encouraging basis for further development on a wider scale.

Animal welfare in a kennel dog involved in sessions of Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) with people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. A preliminary study

ACCORSI, PIER ATTILIO;GANDINI, GUALTIERO
2007

Abstract

Introduction Aim of this preliminary study was to evaluate the animal welfare in a dog involved in sessions of Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) with people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Specifically, our task was to evaluate, after the possible adoption of a kennel dog by structures for elderly and people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, the effects on animal welfare either of this special pet ownership and of sessions of AAA. Our study was set in the frame of a wider project which has involved several structures under the coordination of the “Social Security and Health Service” of the Province of Bologna. Other structures involved as operative team included the University of Bologna (Faculties of Veterinary Medicine, of Psycology, of Education and Formation’s Science ) and the ASL (Local Health Service) of Bologna. Material and methods The study consisted of several phases. The first step consisted in the physical and behavioural evaluation of kennel dogs in order to establish if the dog could fit with the requirements for adoption. Several dogs met the requirements and finally one was gradually introduced in the single structure which gave availability to the project. Introduction of the dog was performed gradually, meeting first the structure operators and then the patients. After introduction, the dog performed, on weekly basis, three to four AAA sessions of the duration of 20 minutes each. The behavioural patterns of the dog were evaluated for a period of six months either during the visits of the introduction phase and during the individual AAA sessions. The final evaluation was done integrating interviews to the operators with the direct observation of the dog during nine AAA sessions. Observations were translated into a score system. To improve the objectivity of the findings, fecal and hairy cortisol measurements have been performed on a regular basis. Results and discussion The conclusive findings of the observation during the whole period of evaluation were very positive and suggest that the dog was able to adapt to the new situation, activities and social interactions. During the whole observation, the dog was healthy and his level of activity increased during the period. Playing and explorative activity, and interaction with people improved showing a gradual positive integration with the environment. During the gradual introduction the dog showed signs of stress (tachipnea, scialorrea, ipervigilancy, low posture and other calming signals) probably due to the car travel from the kennel, introduction in a new environment and to new people. After the definitive adoption, during the first sessions of AAA the dog showed signals of stress but after some weeks they gradually disappeared and the dog became able to react adequately. The measurement of fecal cortisol, related to acute stress, and the trend of hairy cortisol, more helpful to evaluate long term stress, were apparently correlated with the clinical and behavioural findings. Conclusion Even if related to a single dog, the positive results of our study may represent an encouraging basis for further development on a wider scale.
Proc. 6th International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting
96
97
Piva E.; Liverani V.; Accorsi P.A.; Gandini G
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/50455
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