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Aging and cognitive dysfunction syndrome in dogs influence postural control

Elderly dogs often suffer from cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), the veterinary equivalent of human Alzheimer's disease (AD). Numerous studies have shown that motor activities such as standing and walking are closely associated with aging and complex cognitive functions in humans. Decreasing postural stability is an indicator of decreased neuromuscular control, as it occurs in aging and in various diseases, including AD. A displacement of the Centre of Pressure (COP) is an indirect measure of the functionality of postural control. While there is extensive information on the connection between postural stability (PS), aging and various diseases in humans, the subject has not been addressed in veterinary medicine. We will use posturography to investigate the effect of aging and cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) on the PS of the dog. We shall test the hypotheses that (1) loss of visual input and tasks requiring mental attention are key factors leading to postural instability, (2) aging is associated with an impairment of postural stability, (3) dogs suffering from CDS have greater postural instability than healthy dogs and (4) dogs and humans show the same compensatory changes in COP-displacement for some specific tasks and different changes for other tasks. 80 privately owned dogs will be included, 20 of which have CDS. Ten healthy persons aged 25-35 years will be recruited to test hypothesis 4. A pressure measuring platform will be used for the posturography. PS will be measured seeing/non-sighted standing on a flat, firm surface (Romberg test), standing seeing/non-sighted upright on a downward/upward sloping surface (20┬░), while playing auditory stimuli, by showing pictures and by allowing dogs to stretch their head and neck to reach for a target.The project will provide the first information on the influence of aging on postural stability in dogs, investigate a correlation between cognition and postural stability, demonstrate the pathophysiological effects of CDS on postural stability and allow quantification of the CDS using a functional parameter. The non-invasive technique will provide objectifiable data and a functional result of therapy or prevention and is quick and easy to perform. It can be used in a naturally occurring household dog population, which offer better transferability to the naturally occurring population than laboratory animals. The project will extend the diagnostics of age-related and cognitive pathologies by a functional aspect, enable the evaluation of the progression of disease and allow therapeutic methods to be objectively tested.
Postural Control Dog
Project leader
Bockstahler Barbara
FWF Einzelprojekte
Type of Research
Basic research
Vetmed Research Units
University Clinic for Small Animals, Clinical Unit of Internal Medicine Small Animals
University Clinic for Small Animals, Clinical Unit of Small Animal Surgery
University Equine Clinic
Funded by
FWF - Fonds zur F├Ârderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, Wien, Austria

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