Physical activity patterns of free living dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis

Anne H. Lee, Katelyn B. Detweiler, Tisha A. Harper, Kim E. Knap, Maria R.C. de Godoy, Kelly S. Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Osteoarthritis (OA) affects about 90% of dogs > 5 yr of age in the United States, resulting in reduced range of motion, difficulty climbing and jumping, reduced physical activity, and lower quality of life. Our objective was to use activity monitors to measure physical activity and identify how activity counts correlate with age, body weight (BW), body condition score (BCS), serum inflammatory markers, veterinarian pain assessment, and owner perception of pain in free-living dogs with OA. The University of Illinois Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approved the study and owner consent was received prior to experimentation. Fifty-six client-owned dogs (mean age = 7.8 yr; mean BCS = 6.1) with clinical signs and veterinary diagnosis of OA wore HeyRex activity collars continuously over a 49-d period. Blood samples were collected on day 0 and 49, and dog owners completed canine brief pain inventory (CBPI) and Liverpool osteoarthritis in dogs (LOAD) surveys on day 0, 21, 35, and 49. All data were analyzed using SAS 9.3 using repeated measures and R Studio 1.0.136 was used to generate Pearson correlation coefficients between data outcomes. Average activity throughout the study demonstrated greater activity levels on weekends. It also showed that 24-h activity spiked twice daily, once in the morning and another in the afternoon. Serum C-reactive protein concentration was lower (P < 0.01) at day 49 compared to day 0. Survey data indicated lower (P < 0.05) overall pain intensity and severity score on day 21, 35 and 49 compared to day 0. BW was correlated with average activity counts (P = 0.02; r = -0.12) and run activity (P = 0.10; r = -0.24). Weekend average activity counts were correlated with owner pain intensity scores (P = 0.0813; r = -0.2311), but weekday average activity count was not. Age was not correlated with total activity count, sleep activity, or run activity, but it was correlated with scratch (P = 0.03; r = -0.10), alert (P = 0.03; r = -0.13), and walk (P = 0.09; r = -0.23) activities. Total activity counts and activity type (sleep, scratch, alert, walk, and run) were not correlated with pain scored by veterinarians, pain intensity or severity scored by owners, or baseline BCS. Even though the lack of controls and/or information on the individual living conditions of dogs resulted in a high level of variability in this study, our data suggest that the use of activity monitors have the potential to aid in the management of OA and other conditions affecting activity (e.g., allergy; anxiety).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskab204
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021


  • canine exercise
  • joint health
  • pet health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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