A recent study that involved over 21,000 canine subjects outlines the social and environmental factors associated with longer lifespans for dogs
The key to keeping your beloved dog healthy could be adding another furry friend to your home.
A recent study by the Dog Aging Project found that dogs who get routine social interaction from living with another canine are associated with “better health” outcomes than dogs with access to less socialization.
Having other non-canine pets in a household was also linked to better health outcomes for dogs, according to the study published in the journal Evolution, Medicine & Public Health. Of the dogs the researchers examined, those who lived with another companion animal were rated “significantly healthier than dogs with fewer household companions.”
Dogs with non-human companions were also reported to have significantly fewer disease diagnoses than dogs without furry friends of their own.
The research team, which consisted of scientists from Arizona State University, the University of Washington, and other prominent medical institutions, drew their conclusions from detailed survey data on over 21,000 dogs.
The researchers also looked at how environmental factors — like the stability of a neighborhood, the total household income, and the age of a dog’s owners — impacted dogs’ lifespans and overall health.
Dogs in households with greater financial and neighborhood stability and older owners were reported to be in better health than dogs in more unstable environments with younger owners.
Still, the study found that the strength of these financial factors pales compared to the effect of social companionship and support. The researchers reported that the impact of socialization is five times stronger than the effect of economic factors.
“We were really encouraged by the findings because it means there are things we can do to help improve the health of our animal companions, as well as us, without resorting to medical interventions,” said Brianah McCoy, a lead researcher of the study, in an interview with FOX. “Having a friend around really matters – which I am sure we can all relate to.”
The study was designed with the Dog Aging Project, a scientific organization dedicated to researching how genes, lifestyle, and environment influence aging in dogs and their owners.
Because of the correlative nature of the study, the researchers can’t make specific recommendations to dog owners to ensure better canine health.