Applications open soon for research on health of senior dogs

The Morris Animal Foundation is seeking applicants for its Mark L. Morris Jr. Investigator Award starting Feb. 2. The award provides funding of up to $200,000 per year for up to three years. The aim of this award is to satisfy an urgent and unmet need in canine or feline veterinary science where there is a realistic expectation of making rapid and meaningful progress. The foundation has chosen senior dog health as the topic for this year’s award on the basis of survey data and expert opinion.

Senior dogs are plagued by a litany of poorly studied but significant diseases and conditions that, for whatever reason, have been largely neglected in terms of research, according to the foundation.

The suggestions for relevant research topics are nutrition, including weight management; cognitive decline and other neurological conditions; mobility; frailty; inflammaging and immunosenescence; owner and veterinarian awareness of specific needs, including screening tools; and end-of-life care.

Meaningful research for senior dogs must concretely address their needs, those of their owners, and those of their veterinarians. Studies should account for the sizes and breeds of dogs involved in terms of life stages and aging. Research might also focus on subphases for seniors, that is, early, midphase when they are experiencing clinical problems, and end-of-life care. Collaborative projects with the potential to rapidly translate to the clinic are preferred.

A version of this article appears in the Jan. 15, 2022, print issue of JAVMA.