Contact and interactions between owners and their pets may have beneficial physical and social effects on people, but may also facilitate the transmission of zoonotic agents and resistant bacteria. To estimate the risk of these contacts, more information regarding the frequency and intensity of this physical contact is required. Therefore, an online survey was conducted among pet owners resulting in 701 completed questionnaires. Questions regarding the interactions between dogs and owners were linked with a score from 1 (limited interactions) to 3 (highly intense interactions). After scoring these self-reported interactions, a contact intensity score was calculated for each respondent by summing up the different allocated scores from all questions. This contact intensity score was used to identify predictors of more intense contact based on a multivariable linear regression model. Interactions between dogs and their owners were widespread (e.g., 85.3% of the dogs licked their owner’s hand) and intense (e.g., 49.3% of owners reported being licked in the face). The gender, age, and place of residence (city, village, or countryside) of the respondent, together with the size and age of the dog, were significantly associated with the contact intensity score in the multivariable model. On average, female respondents younger than 65 years who lived in the city and had a small young dog had the most intense contact with it. Further research is necessary to evaluate the risk of these interactions in light of zoonotic and antimicrobial resistance transfer.
|Publication Title||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|Author Address||Veterinary Epidemiology Unit, Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.Small Animal Department, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.|
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