GenPup-M: A novel validated owner-reported clinical metrology instrument for detecting early mobility changes in dogs

Natasha L Clark, Karl T Bates, Lauren K Harris, Andrew W Tomlinson, Jane K Murray, Eithne J Comerford
PLoS One. 2023 Dec 27;18(12):e0291035. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0291035.

Objective: To use a previously validated veterinary clinical examination sheet, Liverpool Osteoarthritis in Dogs (LOAD) questionnaire, combined with kinetic and kinematic gait analysis in dogs with/without mobility problems to demonstrate the capacity of a novel clinical metrology instrument ("GenPup-M") to detect canine mobility impairments.

Design: Quantitative study.

Animals: 62 dogs (31 with mobility impairments and 31 without mobility impairments).

Procedure: The dogs' clinical history was obtained from owners and all dogs underwent a validated orthopaedic clinical examination. Mobility impairments were diagnosed in the mobility impaired group based on clinical history and orthopaedic examination. Owners were asked to complete GenPup-M along with a previously validated mobility questionnaire (Liverpool Osteoarthritis in Dogs (LOAD)) to identify construct validity. As a test of criterion validity, the correlation between instrument scores and the overall clinical examination scores, along with force-platform obtained peak vertical forces (PVF) were calculated. GenPup-M underwent internal consistency and factor analysis. Spatiotemporal parameters were calculated for dogs with/without mobility impairments to define the gait differences between these two groups.

Results: Principal Component Analysis identified GenPup-M had two components with Eigenvalues >1 ("stiffness/ease of movement" and "willingness to be active/exercise"). Cronbach's α was used to test internal consistency of GenPup-M and was found to be "good" (0.87). There was a strong, positive correlation between GenPup-M and LOAD responses (r2 = 0.69, p<0.001) highlighting construct validity. Criterion validity was also shown when comparing GenPup-M to clinical examination scores (r2 = 0.74, p<0.001) and PVF (r2 = 0.43, p<0.001). Quantitative canine gait analysis showed that there were statistically significant differences between peak vertical forces (PVF) of mobility impaired and non-mobility impaired dogs (p<0.05). Analyses of PVF showed that non-mobility impaired dogs more evenly distributed their weight across all thoracic and pelvic limbs when compared to mobility impaired dogs. There were also consistent findings that mobility impaired dogs moved slower than non-mobility impaired dogs.

Conclusion and clinical relevance: GenPup-M is a clinical metrology instrument (CMI) that can be completed by dog owners to detect all mobility impairments, including those that are early in onset, indicating the versatility of GenPup-M to assess dogs with and without mobility impairments. Results of the study found that GenPup-M positively correlated with all three objective measures of canine mobility and consequently showed criterion and construct validity. Owner-reported CMIs such as GenPup-M allow non-invasive scoring systems which veterinary surgeons and owners can use to allow communication and longitudinal assessment of a dog's mobility. It is anticipated that GenPup-M will be used by owners at yearly vaccinations/health checks, allowing identification of any subtle mobility changes, and enabling early intervention.