Preference among 7 bait flavors delivered to domestic dogs in Arizona: Implications for oral rabies vaccination on the Navajo Nation

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Less than 20% of the domestic dogs on tribal lands in the United States are vaccinated against rabies. One method to increase vaccination rates may be the distribution of oral rabies vaccines (ORVs). ONRAB® (Artemis Technologies, Inc., Ontario, Canada) is the primary ORV used in Canada to vaccinate striped skunks and raccoons. To investigate the potential use of ONRAB® ORV baits to vaccinate feral domestic dogs against rabies on tribal lands and beyond, we performed a flavor preference study. A total of 7 bait flavors (bacon, cheese, dog food, hazelnut, sugar-vanilla, peanut butter, and sardine) were offered in pairs to 13 domestic dogs. Each dog was offered all possible combinations of bait pairs over a period of 10 days, with each bait offered 6 times. The proportion of times each bait was consumed first by individual dogs was calculated and comparisons among dogs were conducted using the MIXED procedure in SAS (SAS Institute, Cary, NC). Pairwise comparisons between baits were performed using “contrast” statements with sugar-vanilla flavor as the default for comparison. Type 3 tests of fixed effects showed a significant treatment effect (F6,72 = 9.74, P < 0.0001). Sugar-vanilla was selected first during 14% of the offerings and exhibited the least preference among all bait types (F1,72 = 22.46, P < 0.0001). Dog food was selected first 56% of the time, and more frequently than all other bait types (F1,72 = 13.09, P = 0.0005).

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