What’s ‘normal’ for a dog? Vetrax® says it’s now possible to have an evidence-based answer


How long should a dog spend asleep in a 24 hour period? Is it normal for dogs to scratch and when is scratching so excessive that owners should seek veterinary care? These are basic questions, yet until now, they have not had a clear answer. That’s about to change, as technology company AGL has published results from 28,000 dog days of data generated by its wearable sensor Vetrax®.

The results contradict commonly quoted ‘facts’ about day to day pet behaviors and show that dogs are sleeping less than thought but also living sedentary lives, walking for just over an hour a day and resting for nine hours on average. It means that veterinary professionals can now refer to statistics with an evidence base and take ‘average’ behavior into account when making recommendations.

It’s not unusual for pet behavior norms to be ill defined or overly reliant on owner observations but having a normal baseline from which to quantify whether an animal’s behavior has changed, or is occurring with unusual frequency, is key to veterinary medicine.

The Vetrax data has been gathered from dogs wearing the company’s pet sensor. This sophisticated monitor evaluates not just general activity but also more clinically relevant behaviors such as scratching or shaking.

One of the most surprising findings is the amount and level of exercise taken by dogs in the US. Vetrax has found that dogs on average walk for just 68 minutes per day and run for 5 minutes.* They spend a substantial nine hours merely ‘resting’. This can have implications when considering calorie intake in the management of obesity and when thinking about how much stimulation dogs have throughout a normal day.

Dogs sleep for a mean of 10.4 hours in every 24 – less than the 12 to 14 hours commonly quoted. The company also has measures for sleep quality which identify when a pet is experiencing interrupted sleep, which is often the case when there is pain or discomfort. The mean time spent scratching each day adds up to 100 seconds and shaking accounts for just 39 seconds.


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