As pet owners, many of us are perpetually on the quest for ways to elevate their living standards. We ensure they have regular health check-ups, feed them premium quality food and treats that we can afford, take them for frequent walks, and strive to cater to their mental stimulation and enrichment needs, all in pursuit of their long, healthy, and hopefully, contented lives.
A recent comprehensive study carried out by the Dog Aging Project, which analyzed over 21,000 dogs, delved into the environmental and social aspects associated with extended lifespans of our furry friends. Interestingly, the findings suggest that welcoming another pet into your household could significantly contribute to your dog’s overall well-being.
The findings are not entirely surprising, if you take a moment to ponder. Can you envision a life without any companions, where you spend the entire day waiting for someone to return home, engage in conversation, spend quality time, or partake in some fun activities? This is assuming they possess the vitality, vigor, and enthusiasm after a presumably exhausting workday.
The dreadful feeling of constant loneliness and ennui is something many people had to grapple with during the pandemic, with quite a few finding it difficult to cope. Isolation or feelings of loneliness can adversely affect our mental health, which in turn can impact our physical well-being. The study’s conclusions underscore that dogs who engage in regular social interactions with other dogs generally have better health outcomes. This trend was notably pronounced in households with multiple pets. Interestingly, the companions didn’t necessarily have to be dogs. Even feline or other pets that provided regular interaction were found to be beneficial.
The study, titled “Social determinants of health and disease in companion dogs: a cohort study from the Dog Aging Project,” was published in the journal Evolution, Medicine & Public Health in May 2023. The crux of the compiled data is that dogs tend to be healthier when cohabiting with another companion animal. The term “tend to” is used here as there could be instances where pets live in circumstances with abusive or bullying cohabitants. Similar to humans, some animals can display aggressive or domineering behaviors.
The findings are based on survey data collected and analyzed by researchers from Arizona State University, the University of Washington, among other esteemed academic institutions. ASU and researcher Lisa M. Gunter have been instrumental in several dog-related studies over the years, encompassing topics like the effects of shelter life on dogs and how the stress hormone cortisol can have detrimental effects on them.
Now if you don't mind, I'm going to go adopt 10 more dogs and have them live forever. :)