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Social Dogs Are Healthier Dogs

By Caroline Coile

Social environment is a strong predictor of longevity in many mammals. Now a new study shows it also impacts canine health.

Researchers from Arizona State University analyzed survey data from 21,410 dogs enrolled in the Dog Aging Project. The survey asked each owner questions ranging from their dog and their physical activity, environment, dog behavior, diet, medications and preventatives, health status, and owner demographics. Using these questions, they identified five key factors (neighborhood stability, total household income, social time with children, social time with animals, and owner age) that together, helped explained the makeup of a dog’s social environment and were associated with dog well-being. They found the following:

  • Dogs from wealthier homes have more diagnosed diseases. This is more likely because they had greater chance for disease diagnosis through more veterinary attention. In fact, their owners reported their dogs were healthier compared to reports of less wealthy owners.
  • Dogs who live in households with other pets (usually dogs, but cats as well) have better health and fewer disease diagnoses than dogs who had fewer household companions. The relationship was more pronounced in older dogs than in younger dogs. This benefit was the most profound benefit, outweighing the effects of finances by five-fold.
  • Dogs who live in households with more children have fewer diagnosed diseases but tended to be in poorer health. This could be because dog owners who are also parents have their resources stretched to the point the dog may not receive as much veterinary attention.
  • Dogs that spend more time with children have fewer diseases, but this effect is more marked for older dogs compared to younger dogs.
  • Dogs that live with older owners have better health scores than those that live with younger owners. The factor of owner age is more strongly associated with health for younger dogs compared to older dogs. These older owners also had more active dogs, so better health could simply be due to more exercise.
  • Dogs that live in less stable households have worse health than those that live in more stable households. This effect is more pronounced for young dogs.
  • Older dogs who live in higher-income households are in better health compared to older dogs in lower-income households, while the health of younger dogs is less impacted by income variation.

The take home message: Active dogs from stable wealthy households with lots of canine friends and children seem have the best health, with social factors outweighing financial factors in importance. So, if you need a scientific reason to get another dog, here it is!

Reference: Social determinants of health and disease in companion dogs: A cohort study from the Dog Aging Project | Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

Short URL: https://caninechronicle.com/?p=267144

Posted by on Jul 4 2023. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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