Although dogs' life expectancies are six to twelve times shorter than that of humans, the demographics (e. g., living conditions) of dogs can still change considerably with aging, similarly to humans. Despite the fact that the dog is a particularly good model for human healthspan, and the number of aged dogs in the population is growing in parallel with aged humans, there has been few previous attempts to describe demographic changes statistically. We utilized an on-line questionnaire to examine the link between the age and health of the dog, and owner and dog demographics in a cross-sectional Hungarian sample. Results from univariate analyses revealed that 20 of the 27 demographic variables measured differed significantly between six dog age groups. Our results revealed that pure breed dogs suffered from health problems at a younger age, and may die at an earlier age than mixed breeds. The oldest dog group (>12 years) consisted of fewer pure breeds than mixed breeds and the mixed breeds sample was on average older than the pure breed sample. Old dogs were classified more frequently as unhealthy, less often had a “normal” body condition score, and more often received medication and supplements. They were also more often male, neutered, suffered health problems (such as sensory, joint, and/or tooth problems), received less activity/interaction/training with the owner, and were more likely to have experienced one or more traumatic events. Surprisingly, the youngest age group contained more pure breeds, were more often fed raw meat, and had owners aged under 29 years, reflecting new trends among younger owners. The high prevalence of dogs that had experienced one or more traumatic events in their lifetime (over 40% of the sample), indicates that welfare and health could be improved by informing owners of the greatest risk factors of trauma, and providing interventions to reduce their impact. Experiencing multiple life events such as spending time in a shelter, changing owners, traumatic injury/prolonged disease/surgery, getting lost, and changes in family structure increased the likelihood that owners reported that their dogs currently show behavioral signs that they attribute to the previous trauma.
|Publication Title||Frontiers in Veterinary Science|
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