• Open Access

Evaluation of the 6-Minute Walk Test in Pet Dogs


Corresponding author: Dr Elizabeth A. Rozanski, DVM, DACVECC, DACVIM, Section of Critical Care, Department of Clinical Sciences, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536; e-mail: elizabeth.rozanski@tufts.edu.


Background: The 6-minute walk test (6MWT) is widely used in human medicine to objectively assess the degree of impairment, and to provide objective evidence of disease progression or response to therapy.

Hypothesis/Objectives: The 6MWT will be easy to perform and well-tolerated in pet dogs. Dogs with pulmonary disease will walk shorter distances than healthy dogs.

Animals: Sixty-nine healthy dogs were recruited from the hospital community. Six dogs with mild to moderate pulmonary disease were recruited from animals presented for evaluation at the teaching hospital.

Methods: Prospective study. Dogs walked for 6 minutes in a hallway and the distance covered was measured. Pulse oximetry and heart rate were recorded before and after walking. Physical characteristics of the dogs, including age, leg length, body condition score, and weight, were recorded. Healthy dogs were compared with affected dogs by a Student's t-test (P < .05). Correlations were calculated between the age, physical characteristics, and distances walked in the healthy dogs.

Results: Healthy dogs walked 522.7 ± 52.4 m, while sick dogs (n = 6) walked 384.8 ± 41.0 m (P < .001). There was low (r= 0.13) to moderate (r= 0.27) correlation in the healthy dogs between physical characteristics and distances walked.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: The 6MWT was easy to perform and discriminated between healthy dogs and dogs with pulmonary disease.