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Title: Welfare of dogs housed on concrete versus mesh floor with plastic coating in a commercial breeding facility
Authors: Van Impe, Isabelle
Depauw, Sarah
Vervaecke, Hilde
Issue Date: 13-Oct-2016
Host Document: Proceedings of the ISAE Benelux conference
Conference: ISAE Benelux conference edition:2016 location:Berlicum, The Netherlands date:13 oct. 2016
Abstract: Welfare of dogs housed on concrete versus mesh floor with plastic coating in a commercial breeding facility
Van Impe, Isabelle, Depauw Sarah, Vervaecke, Hilde
Odisee University College, Agro-& Biotechnology, Animal Welfare and Behaviour, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium; isabelle.vanimpe@odisee.be
An important aspect of a dogs’ health and behavioural and affective wellbeing is determined by the choice of floor substrate. The Belgian law prescribes that the floor should not wound the feet, it should be flat, easy to keep dry and clean. A wooden floor is excluded and maximally half of the floor can consist of a mesh, only of a type that sufficiently supports the soles. We evaluated the effect of mesh floor with plastic coating versus concrete floors on the welfare of dogs in a commercial dog breeding facility. In 14 individually housed dogs, behavioural observations were carried out on concrete as well as on mesh floor, during four times 15 minutes, to score activity, positive and abnormal behaviours. The dogs had been housed several months on either of these floors. We found that they were significantly longer (p<0.036) and more frequently active (p<0.036) on concrete floor (paired-samples test), irrespective of the floor type they were previously habituated to. Similarly, the dogs showed longer resting behavior on the mesh floor (p<0.039). Results with regard to positive and abnormal behaviours were less conclusive. We carried out a preference test offering a choice between concrete and mesh floor during one hour, for 17 individuals. The dogs spent significantly more time on the mesh floor, irrespective of their previous habituation to either floor type (p<0.015, paired samples test). In a sample of 14 new dogs interdigital rubor, redness of insole cushions, or digital alopecia was often observed. However, their prevalence was not significantly different between floor types (chi-square, p<0.690). The difficulty of interpreting the behavioural results with regard to welfare will be discussed. By combining the results with a thorough literature study and by comparing the international legislation, lessons were drawn to improve current legislation.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Division Animal and Human Health Engineering
Studiegebied Biotechniek Odisee

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