How the social environment affects the health of dogs

Dogs are our faithful friends and companions, but their lives are relatively short. But what if we could increase their longevity? U.S. scientists conducted a large-scale study to determine how social and physical environments affect the health and longevity of dogs.

The study combined data from 21,410 dogs, including information on the pets’ level of daily physical activity, living and walking conditions, behavior and nutrition, medications taken and health status. Researchers identified five key factors in the dog’s social environment (neighborhood well-being, total family income, time with children, time with other animals, and owner age) that showed the highest correlation with the dog’s health and well-being.

What influences a dog’s health

1. neighborhood well-being

Dogs living in affluent neighborhoods are more likely to be healthier and more mobile.

2. total family income

Families with higher incomes have more opportunities to take their pet to the vet, which can lead to more medical diagnoses.

3. Time with children

Families with more children had worse dog health than families without children or where one or two children were present. This is probably due to the lack of attention to the dogs by adults, who are forced to spend all their free time on the children, forgetting about the pets.

4. Time with other animals

Constant companionship with other pets, especially congeners, had a positive effect on the dog’s condition. Having a large number of companions is one of the key factors in a dog’s longevity.

5. Age of the owner

Given a dog’s age and weight, the social environment could reliably predict its health status.

What Doesn’t Affect a Dog’s Health

Cheap food and a lack of toys due to financial problems had five times less effect on a dog’s health than the opportunity to socialize with other dogs.

Research Perspective

In the future, the researchers plan to use a smaller sample of 1,000 dogs to study the effects of the social environment on the physiological condition of these animals by collecting blood samples and conducting other tests over several years. The results may be useful in improving the quality of life not only of the pets, but also of their owners.

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