BY Jack Davis, The Western JournalJune 17, 2023
1 year ago
 | June 17, 2023
1 year ago

How to Extend Your Dog's Life - New Study of 21,000 Dogs/Owners Reveals It's Easier Than You Think

A thriving social life is good for a dog’s health, according to a new study.

The study, from Arizona State University, found that although household income -- which correlates to a greater ability to afford veterinary care -- was a factor in how well and how long dogs live, it was not the biggest factor.

“We saw that the effect of social support was about five times stronger than the effect of finances,” Layla Brassington, a graduate student and one author of the study, said, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

“Meaning our dogs, like us, benefit greatly from social bonds and social connectedness.”

The dogs in the study were part of the Dog Aging Project, which attempts to understand how genes, the environment and lifestyle affect aging and disease.

The study surveyed over 21,000 dog owners. according to the New York Post. Questions ranged from diet and environment to medication.

Five factors went into the study: neighborhood stability, total household income, social time with children, social time with animals, and owner age.

“There were a few twists though: Dogs who lived in homes with children fared worse than those who lived with adults only, likely because owners spend more time with kids than pets, the researchers speculated," the Daily Star reported.

“We found that time with children actually had a detrimental effect on dog health,” Brassington said, according to SciTechDaily. "The more children or time that owners dedicate to their children likely leads to less time with their furry children.”

Graduate student Bri McCoy, who worked on the study, said the team’s interpretation was that it came down to “a resource allocation issue, rather than kids being bad for dogs.”

Play time, particularly with other dogs that want to run about with them, was important, the study found.

“This does show that, like many social animals, including humans, having more social companions can be really important for the dog’s health,” McCoy said, according to the Post.

Jamie Whittenburg, veterinarian director at Senior Tail Waggers, a group that gives advice on older pets, said the study reinforced what she has seen, according to the Daily Star.

“As both a veterinarian and lifelong pet owner, I was anecdotally aware that animals that had more positive social interactions received a health benefit, and it is great to see science backing this up,” said Whittenburg,  director of Kingsgate Animal Hospital in Lubbock, Texas.

The study “reinforces what most of us know intuitively, which is that social connectedness has a positive effect on health in dogs,” she said.

However, she said, not every dog needs a playmate in the house.

“Owners should evaluate their individual dog and strive to provide the desired level of social interaction,” Whittenburg said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Jack Davis, The Western Journal



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