Background - Determining the cause of pruritus relies on establishing the pattern of abnormal pruritus. The presence of gastrointestinal (GI) disease has also been helpful in determining the cause of pruritus. No study has systematically evaluated typical GI signs and pruritic behaviours in apparently healthy dogs. Hypothesis/Objectives - To evaluate owners' perceptions of pruritus and GI signs in apparently healthy dogs, and determine if age, breed, activity, diet or supplements affected these signs. Animals - Three hundred and fourteen apparently healthy dogs ≥12 months old with an unremarkable physical examination and no history of pruritus, otitis, skin/hair disease, metabolic or GI disease were enrolled. Methods - Thirty one veterinarians enrolled dogs after establishing their pruritus visual analog scale (PVAS) score and faecal consistency score (FCS); owners completed a comprehensive online survey regarding GI signs, possible pruritic behaviours, ear cleaning and sneezing. Results - A PVAS score of ≤1.9 was recorded in 87.6% of dogs and the FCS was 2-3 in 94.9% of dogs. PVAS was positively correlated with paw licking/chewing, facial/muzzle rubbing, head shaking and sneezing. Scooting was positively correlated with sneezing. Over 96% of dogs had 1-3 bowel movements (BM) per day. Age was positively correlated with facial/muzzle rubbing, sneezing, coprophagia and borborygmi. The number of walks/day was positively correlated with paw licking/chewing, head shaking, sneezing, number of BM/day, coprophagia, belching, flatulence and borborygmi. Conclusion and clinical importance - A standard method of asking relevant questions was developed and the frequency of GI signs and many behaviours that may indicate pruritus in apparently healthy dogs was established.
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