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Study shows dogs may benefit from scented toys
The dogs that played with the scented toys displayed more positive behaviour.

Adding lavender or rabbit scent to toys could improve the welfare of dogs in kennels

A new study has found that the welfare of kennelled dogs could be improved if they’re able to play with scented toys.

Being held in a rehoming centre can be extremely stressful for dogs, and one way to improve this can be to provide toys. However, studies of kennel dogs have found that few animals actually play with them.

In this study, researchers employed 44 kennelled dogs over the age of one that were under the care of a Dogs Trust rehoming centre. Lavender or rabbit scents were applied to the toys, and researchers compared the dogs’ behaviour with these toys with ones that were unscented. 

Researchers found that the dogs were more likely to play with the scented toys, but they also noticed that the dogs displayed more positive behaviours. For example, the dogs that played with the scented toys explored their kennel and the objects within it, while periods of rest and sleep were more likely to occur.

The team didn’t measure adoption success, but they did find that dogs that played with the scented toys were quieter and more playful - two traits that people often look for when they’re adopting a dog.

Furthermore, dogs that played with the scented toys weren’t necessarily the ones that showed an increase in other behaviours, suggesting that scent may be beneficial in itself, not just because it encourages the use of toys.

Study author Ben Brilot from Hartpury University said that such behaviours are associated with higher welfare and could potentially increase the chances of adoption from a rehoming centre:

“Our initial results look very promising, suggesting that adding scent to toys in rehoming kennels might, at least in the short-term, improve welfare outcomes,” he said. “The use of novel scents may, therefore, promote better welfare in kennels, but differing scents and longer-term observations, including rehoming success, need to be looked at.”

Dogs Trust’s research manager Naomi Harvey, added: “We are always looking for ways to improve the day-to-day experience for the thousands of dogs we care for across our 21 rehoming centres in the UK and Ireland.

“Scent is an incredibly important sense for dogs and while sniffing is a natural behaviour for them, it’s often overlooked as a form of enrichment. These results show that adding scent to toys could be a practical way of improving welfare for our dogs and we are pleased to support this research.”

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.