Thursday, 24 November 2011

Free-Roaming Dogs and People's Health

In a recent review of qualitative and quantitative evidence regarding dogs' effects on social and physical dimensions of people's environments, Ann Toohey and I drew attention to loose and uncontrolled dogs as a deterrent of physical activity for dog-owners and non-owners alike in higher-income countries. The negative impact of loose and uncontrolled dogs on physical activity patterns in higher-income countries appears to be more pronounced in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and among women, young children, and older adults. Our literature review appeared in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.

A questionnaire-based study published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine since we completed our review found that the "intensity of the free-roaming dog (FRD) problem was negatively correlated with the value of the UN's human development index recognized for each country." The main problems reported were dog bites, dog attacks, and rabies. More subtle issues of physical activity and social conflict are also plausible, in light of the evidence that we reviewed, in both higher-income and lower-income countries.

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