A new study found out that having another furry companion for your pup can help improve their well-being, among other key factors.
Conducted by the Dog Aging Project, the research concluded that dogs and humans have more in common regarding maintaining their health and happiness.
It mainly focused on understanding how different environments can affect the lifespan and well-being of dogs, even as far as changing the molecules in their cells.
In the study involving survey data from 21,410 dogs, the researchers found five factors that impacted the dogs' health and well-being: neighborhood stability, total household income, the dog owner's age, and the time spent with children and other animals.
Financial and household problems were connected to poorer health and reduced physical mobility.
On the other hand, dogs with more social companions with humans and other dogs showed better health.
Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Assistant Professor Noah Snyder-Mackler led the research, including Ph.D. student Bri McCoy and MSc student Layla Brassington were the lead authors and researchers of the study.
In a statement released by the university, Snyder-Mackler said, “People love their dogs. But what people may not know is that this love and care, combined with their relatively shorter lifespans, make our companion dogs a great model for studying how and when aspects of the social and physical environment may alter aging, health, and survival.”
This social support from other living animals has an effect five times stronger than other factors, such as the owner's income.
It includes living with dogs and other pets in the same home, including cats.
“This does show that, like many social animals—including humans, having more social companions can be really important for the dog’s health,” said McCoy.
In addition, in a more surprising result from the study, dogs living in richer households tended to be diagnosed with more diseases than others, but that can be because these dogs are more frequently taken to the vet.
Social time spent with children was also poorly linked to dog health.
The authors believe this connection might result from owners having fewer resources like time or availability for their dogs once they focus more on their children.
“We found that time with children actually had a detrimental effect on dog health,” said Brassington. “The more children or time that owners dedicate to their children likely leads to less time with their furry children.”
“You can think of it as a resource allocation issue rather than kids being bad for dogs,” McCoy clarified.
These discoveries are based on the subjective experiences of dog owners, which is a crucial limitation.
However, the authors say they are planning to do a follow-up research by looking at the subset of dogs that have their health directly calculated through the collection of blood and bodily samples.
But for now, this research justifies just how important social connection and stability are for both dogs and humans.
What do you think about this discovery?
Do you already own multiple pets at home, or are you considering getting another dog or cat?
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