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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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VMG president joins House of Lords

News Story 1
 Miles Russell, president of the Veterinary Management Group (VMG), has been elected to the House of Lords as a crossbench hereditary peer.

He will join Lord Trees as a representative of the veterinary sector in the second chamber of the UK parliament.

Lord Russell said: "Those of us working in the animal health and veterinary sectors are only too aware of the importance of the work we do and the challenges we face.

"I will use my platform in the House of Lords to increase understanding of our sectors and to promote positive change." 

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News Shorts
Sixth case of bluetongue confirmed

A sixth case of bluetongue virus serotype 3 has been confirmed in the UK.

The case was detected in an animal on a premises linked to one of the farms within the Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) currently in place near Canterbury, Kent.

In response, the Animal and Plant Health Agency has extended the TCZ. Investigations into the spread of the disease are ongoing.

The cases in Kent come at a time when a new strain of the virus has spread rapidly across farms in the Netherlands. Both the Government and the British Veterinary Association have urged livestock keepers to remain vigilant.

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and suspected cases must be reported immediately on 03000 200 301 in England or 03003 038 268 in Wales. In Scotland, possible cases should be reported to the local field services office.