Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Dog Owners’ Healthcare Seeking Behaviour in Relation to Chronic Conditions in Dogs: a Pilot Study


AWF Research Fund



Research Period


Area of study



Investigator(s): Carri Westgarth, Sara Owczarczak-Garstecka 

Chronic conditions i.e. conditions affecting a dog over a period of at least one year and requiring ongoing medical attention (e.g. osteoarthritis, epilepsy, diabetes, dental problems, obesity), have been identified as a priority welfare concern for dogs in the UK. Social-distancing measures introduced to control the COVID-19 pandemic led to a decrease in the number of veterinary consultations, and suspension of visits for these conditions. Veterinarians have expressed concerns that these changes may lead to long-term changes in how these owners engage with veterinary healthcare. However, there has been little research into how owners engage with veterinary healthcare for chronic/ongoing diseases, let alone the impacts of recent events. This study aims to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their veterinary healthcare seeking behaviour for chronic/ongoing conditions.

The findings will be interpreted with reference to human models of seeking healthcare.