PetSavers – Animal behaviourist urges dog owners to help with Old Age Pets project

23 July 2020

Lisa Wallis, a research associate at the University of Liverpool and owner of 9-year-old Siberian Husky Talie, is urging dog owners to participate in an old age pets project aimed at helping veterinary professionals and owners provide the best care for their pets.

The project, which is being funded by a citizen science grant from the charitable research organisation PetSavers, is appealing to dog owners to provide a photo or video and a brief description that capture what it is like to live with and care for an older dog. The information gathered will support the development of a ‘Canine Ageing and Wellbeing’ tool for use in veterinary practice, helping veterinary professionals and pet owners work together for the greater benefit of senior dogs. The resulting earlier detection of health problems should bring significant improvement to the quality of life of senior pets and the dog-owner relationship.

As the owner of a senior dog who is beginning to show signs of ageing, Lisa is particularly impassioned about the project. She said: “Talie has osteochondrosis (a bone growth disorder), caused by an attack from another dog. He also has food allergies and a perineal hernia but because I am aware of his conditions, I am able to manage them and help him age gracefully. This project is so important because it will help owners to distinguish between the signs of serious age-related diseases and normal age-related changes in our dogs. Early preventative care can bring significant improvement to the quality of life of senior pets and the dog-owner relationship.”

Lisa has a 20-year background in animal behaviour and conservation and more recently in cognition, health and welfare. Her current research interests include the influence of dog age on personality, cognition, healthspan and longevity, the human-dog relationship, and dog welfare and enrichment.

She urges any adult UK residents who (currently or recently) live with an aged dog/s of any breed/s or health status to participate by choosing an image or short video and adding some brief notes about it. The research team will analyse the submitted text and media for common themes. They may also use anonymised selected quotes to illustrate important findings in research publications such as scientific papers or conference presentations.

If you would like to participate, it’s easy to submit your photographs, videos and comments online via

Data collection will close on Friday 31st July 2020.

For further details, check out the project’s website here and social media pages: Facebook or Twitter: @OldAgePets.