Frailty is a physical state in which health reserves are limited, decreasing response to stress, and increasing death rate. In people, frailty is defined by weight loss, weakness, exhaustion, slow walking and low activity. While frailty is important in the assessment of elderly people and is treated to improve health, the idea of frailty is rarely used in veterinary medicine. Researchers developed a frailty tool for veterinarians that uses owner questions to assess frailty areas, and assessment of body and muscle condition. The tool accurately predicts six-month death rate; data shows dogs who are frail in greater than or equal in two areas are three times more likely than non-frail dogs to die within six months. The team will conduct a clinical trial to assess how frail dogs, as defined by their frailty tool, respond to exercise. Dogs will be allocated to either a standard care group or a rehabilitation group that includes added daily in-home exercise and three months of weekly in-clinic exercise targeting endurance, strength and balance. Findings will fill knowledge gaps of frailty in dogs, how frailty changes over time and how dogs respond to exercise to improve canine patient health and quality of life.
Grant amount awarded
North Carolina State University
Natasha Olby, VetMB, PhD, DACVIM