Dogs watching TV can give vets insight into their vision, study says

webnexttech | Dogs watching TV can give vets insight into their vision, study says

A new study attempts to understand canine vision using an unconventional method: encouraging dogs to watch television.The study, led by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Veterinary Medicine, provides insights into how veterinarians can better assess canine eyesight.
The authors say the research is important because methods commonly used to measure dogs’ eyesight lack sensitivity.
Top science and technology headlines, all in one place “The method we currently use to assess vision in dogs is a very low bar.
In humans, it would be equivalent to saying yes or no if a person was blind,” stated researcher Freya Mowat, a veterinary ophthalmologist and professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s department of surgical sciences, in a media release.
Launched two years ago, the study aims to determine factors about a dog’s vision based on how they interact with video content.
“We need more sensitive ways to assess vision in dogs, using a dog eye chart equivalent,” Mowat said.
“We speculate that videos have the potential for sustaining a dog’s attention long enough to assess visual function, but we didn’t know what type of content is most engaging and appealing to dogs,” Mowat added.
The research, published recently in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, suggests that dogs are most engaged when watching videos that include other animals, particularly content that features other dogs.
“But if a National Geographic documentary about canine evolution seems too highbrow for your four-legged friend, Scooby Doo might be a perfectly acceptable option as well,” reads the media release.
The study was based on an online questionnaire for dog owners which Mowat designed to understand the TV-watching habits of their pets.
Dog owners replied to questions about the types of screens in their homes and how their dogs engaged with those screens.
They also provided answers about the kind of television content their dogs most interacted with, along with information about their dog’s sex, age and breed.
Participants also reported detailed descriptions of their dog’s behaviour while they watched this content.
According to the study, most dog owners reported active behaviour — such as jumping, running, or barking — in their pets while they watched the content.
Participants also had the option to screen four short videos for their dogs featuring subjects such as a panther, a bird and traffic moving along a road.
The survey asked owners to rate their dogs’ interest in each video and their ability to track moving objects on the screen.
Mowat’s study received 1,600 responses from dog owners across the world.
Her findings suggest that age and vision were related to how much a dog interacted with the content on a screen, and that sporting and herding dog breeds appear to watch all content more than other breeds.
As much as dogs may be loyal to their humans beyond the screen, the study found TV-featured humans are less effective at capturing canine attention.
According to the research, humans rank ninth out of 17 predetermined on-screen categories organized under the headings of “animals,” “ball sports,” “non-ball sports,” “vehicles” and “other.” “We know that poor vision negatively impacts quality of life in older people, but the effect of aging and vision changes in dogs is largely unknown because we can’t accurately assess it,” Mowat said.
“Like people, dogs are living longer, and we want to make sure we support a healthier life for them as well.”

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