2023 journal article

A novel task of canine olfaction for use in adult and senior pet dogs.

Scientific Reports.

By: M. Khan n, A. Mondino n, K. Russell n, B. Case n, G. Fefer n, H. Woods n, N. Olby n, M. Gruen n

MeSH headings : Dogs; Animals; Smell; Food; Aging; Neuropsychological Tests
Source: ORCID
Added: February 19, 2023

Abstract While much work has been done in the field of canine olfaction, there has been little exploration of hyposmia or anosmia. This is partly due to difficulties in reducing confounds like training history and environmental distraction. The current study describes a novel olfaction test using spontaneous search behavior in dogs to find a hidden food treat in a three-choice task with both light-phase and dark-phase conditions. The study was performed in 18 adult control dogs, 18 senior/geriatric dogs enrolled in a longitudinal aging study, and a single dog with severe nasal pathology. In the senior/geriatric and control groups, dogs performed with higher accuracy (p < 0.0001) and were less likely to show biased selection strategy (p < 0.01) in the dark-phase than light-phase. While senior/geriatric dogs performed above chance, they had lower accuracy in the dark-phase compared to controls (p = 0.036). Dogs who scored higher on an owner questionnaire of cognitive decline showed a positive correlation with performance in the dark-phase; performance on additional cognitive tests did not correlate with performance in the dark-phase. This task can be used to quantify canine olfaction using clearly defined endpoints and spontaneous behaviors thus making it feasible to compare between and within groups of pet dogs.