Current research


Exploring adverse event reporting following vaccination in veterinary free-text clinical narratives

Student Research Project Grant: £2100 awarded in 2023

Institution: University of Liverpool

The side effects or adverse events of vaccination are of concern to owners but data is lacking other than those reported to either the Veterinary Medicines Directorate or product manufacturer. This undergraduate project will describe the numbers and details of adverse events after vaccination in dogs with a particular focus on Leptospira vaccines (L2 and L4).


Pathways to waterways for imidacloprid in Seresto collars

Clinical Research Project Grant: £5154 awarded in 2022

Institution: University of Sussex

There is growing concern among the general public and within the veterinary profession that pesticides used in companion animal flea and/or tick products may be entering the environment at levels sufficient to cause ecological harm. However, little is known about the environmental fate or impact of many of these products, to inform evidence-based decisions regarding their use. This study aims to investigate pathways to the environment for imidacloprid contained in collars, with a focus on routes to waterways.


Past research in this area


Using citizen science to develop a ‘canine aging and wellbeing’ tool for use in veterinary practice

Citizen Science Project Grant: £110,470 awarded in 2019

Institution: University of Liverpool

Many UK dogs live into old age, but owners may not recognise or report age-associated signs of disease which lead to negative welfare. This study investigated dog owner and veterinary professional experiences and attitudes towards ageing in dogs, how health care is offered, barriers to its delivery, and some best-practice solutions.

In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 owners of 21 dogs (aged 8 to 17 years mean: 13) and 11 veterinary professional (eight veterinary surgeons, two nurses and one physiotherapist). Open-text responses from 61 dog owner were collected using an online survey. Transcripts and survey responses were inductively coded into themes.

Four themes were constructed: “just old age”, barriers to care, trust in veterinary surgeons, and tools to improve health care. Age-related changes were mostly perceived as “just old age” by dog owner. Many dogs were no longer vaccinated and did not attend check-ups unless owners identified a problem. The greatest barriers to health care were finances (dog owner), owner awareness, willingness to act and consultation time (veterinary professional). Trust in veterinary professional was more likely when dog owner experienced continuity, prioritisation of care, clear communication and an accessible, knowledgeable and empathic veterinary professional. Participants suggested that senior health care and communication between dog owner and veterinary professional could be improved through questionnaires, and evidence-based online information. These findings were published in the July 2023 issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice.

The themes that emerged from the qualitative data were used to develop surveys that went out nationwide to veterinary professionals and owners of senior dogs to gather quantitative data that formed the basis of a traffic light-coded checklist to help owners know whether to seek advice from a veterinary practice and to guide discussions during consultations. This checklist is available as part of an Ageing Canine Toolkit that owners and veterinary professionals can use together to provide the best care for senior dogs. The toolkit, comprising a leaflet and poster, was launched at BSAVA Congress 2023. It is freely available to download and veterinary professionals can request free printed copies of the leaflet and poster for their practices.

Further information is available here.


Ex vivo assessments of cell salvage and swab washing devices

Clinical Research Project Grant: £9944.14 awarded in 2022

Institution: University of Surrey / Fitzpatrick Referrals

Haemorrhages are a major complication of surgery, with blood transfusions the gold standard of treatment. In human surgery, intraoperative cell salvage collects and filters suctioned blood and bloody fluid, before cells are washed, concentrated, and delivered to the patient. The washing of blood-soaked swabs can improve red blood cell recovery, but manual washing is labour intensive and time-consuming. Little is known about such techniques in veterinary medicine.

This study showed that a cell salvage device was efficient at recovering canine erythrocytes in an ex vivo setting. The findings were published in the November 2022 issue of Veterinary Surgery.

The study also compared red blood cell recovery by manual swab washing with that achieved with a newly devised filtration apparatus based on a mesh basket and pan that function like a colander. Twelve recently expired units of canine packed red blood cells underwent quality analysis before being volume-expanded with anticoagulant and divided into two equal aliquots that were used to soak surgical swabs. One set of swabs was processed using manual agitation in saline solution while the other underwent gravity-aided filtration with saline washing using the mesh apparatus. The resulting bloody fluid was processed using the Cell Saver Elite Autotransfusion System (Haemonetics).

The volume, manual packed cell volume, complete blood count, and red blood cell mass, calculated as the product of the volume and packed cell volume, were measured before and after salvaging. Red blood cell mass recovery was then recorded as a percentage. The red blood cell mass recovered by manual agitation and filtration averaged 85.73% and 83.99%, respectively, which was not significantly different. This work has the potential to improve the recovery of red blood cells during haemorrhage, which can then be transfused back to aid recovery of the patient. It was published in the July 2022 issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research.


Exploring recording of adverse drug reaction reporting in veterinary free-text clinical narratives

Student Research Project Grant: £2300 awarded in 2021

Institution: University of Liverpool

There is significant under-reporting of suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in relation to prescribed medicines in human medicine, and this is suspected in veterinary medicine. This undergraduate project aimed to determine how frequently events recorded as suspected ADRs are reported in small animal general practice.

The Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) electronic health records dataset was searched using regular expressions designed to identify case narratives which may record a suspicion of an ADR, and 828 cases were identified. Assessing seriousness and expectedness in 781 and 783 cases, respectively, 577 were a known adverse event-drug combination and 42 were serious; 71 events were recorded as reported of which 41 pertained to a known adverse event-drug (AE-D) combination and eight were serious events. Known AE-D combinations were recorded as reported significantly less frequently than unknown AE-D (p = 0.003). Serious events were recorded as reported more frequently than non-serious events (p= 0.02). Confirmed under reporting would highlight the need for interventions to enhance reporting and thereby improve drug safety. Presentation of an abstract of these findings at BSAVA Congress 2022 won the PetSavers Clinical Abstract Award for that year.