Dogs are some of the most loyal pets, but sometimes they can attack people. American scientists from Harvard University conducted a study to find out what factors can influence the aggressiveness of dogs. It turned out that hot weather and air pollution can make dogs more aggressive.
The study was based on data on reported cases of dogs attacking people in eight U.S. cities between 2009 and 2018. Researchers also took into account data on air temperature, precipitation, PM2.5 aerosol particles and ozone concentrations in the air.
A total of 69525 dog attacks on humans were recorded during the observation period. The study showed that the number of dog attacks increased with increasing ozone concentration, UV index and air temperature. The concentration of aerosol particles PM2.5 had no independent effect on animal behavior.
The reason for the more aggressive behavior of the dogs during the described weather changes is not completely clear. However, scientists suggest that the cause may be an increase in oxidative stress due to increased formation of reactive oxygen species.
Interestingly, the study also showed that the number of dog attacks decreased during weekends and holidays, while it increased during the winter months.
It is worth noting that the behavior of vertebrate animals, including humans, is regulated by the endocrine system, which is sensitive to changes in weather conditions. The connection between weather and the tendency to aggression in humans was documented as early as the second half of the 20th century.
The study of canine aggression under different weather conditions is a new step in understanding the relationship between weather and animal behavior. However, further research is needed to fully uncover this link.