Showing posts from June, 2013

Are seniors more satisfied with life if they have pets?

Amongst seniors, whether or not pet ownership is linked to more satisfaction with life seems to depend. Photo: Peter Baxter/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD It’s widely assumed that pets add quality to our lives. We hear all the time that they can lower blood pressure, encourage us to get more exercise, and provide comfort if we are sad. There’s some truth to this – but is it always the case? A new study of people aged 65 and over investigates whether pet ownership is linked to higher satisfaction with life. The study analyzes data from the Canadian Community Health Survey – Healthy Aging conducted by Statistics Canada. The survey collected data from more than 30,000 Canadians aged over 45 in 2008 and 2009. Chelsea Himsworth and Melanie Rock (Universities of BC and Calgary, respectively) looked at the data for those sixty-five or over, to see what effect pet ownership had. In total, 11,973 people had answered the questions that were needed for this study. The majority o

The end for shock collars? These studies show it would be a good idea

Two new reports make a strong argument against the use of shock collars in dog training. By Zazie Todd, PhD Something puzzles me about the arguments made by shock collar advocates. On the one hand they claim the e-collar doesn’t hurt, and on the other they say it’s a last resort to prevent ‘dead dogs’ due to recall and chasing problems. Surely the second justification casts doubt on the first? Two new scientific studies funded by the UK’s DEFRA address both arguments, and conclude that e-collars are unnecessary and detrimental to animal welfare. Shock collars (including invisible fences) are already banned in many countries because of welfare concerns. The DEFRA studies aimed to investigate the welfare of dogs trained using e-collars . The results will surely add to calls for shock collars to be banned in England and Scotland (they have been illegal in Wales since 2010 ), and elsewhere.  Photo: Ksena Raykova/Shutterstock The first study (Defra AW1402) included extensive

Homing and Re-homing Fido: How many newly-adopted pets are still kept six months later?

Six months after being adopted, it turns out that 10% of those dogs and cats are no longer in their new home. By Zazie Todd, PhD When people adopt a new pet, why do some of them re-home the pet before six months is up? And how many actually still have the pet in the home? These are the questions asked in a new survey for the American Humane Association, funded by PetSmart. Every year in the US, 3 to 4 million homeless dogs and cats are euthanized. Understanding how many pets are not kept, and the reasons why, is essential to finding ways to solve the problem of pet overpopulation. The problem is not unique to the US. A sizeable proportion of animals arrive at shelters as owner surrenders (e.g. rabbits (Cook and McCobb, 2012); cats (CFHS, 2013), and there are animal welfare issues, as well as economic costs (Stavisky et al 2012). The AHA survey is the second phase of a three-part study. The first part investigated barriers to the adoption of dogs and cats, and the next st

Is attachment to pet dogs linked to their behaviour?

Among both children and adults, attachment to the family dog is linked to responsiveness to training. Photo: Igor Normann/Shutterstock By Zazie Todd, PhD Some people are more attached to their dogs than others.   Recently, we wrote about a study that found that people who relinquished their dog to animal shelters had lower attachment to them than people who were keeping their dog. This week, we discuss a new study by Christy Hoffman et al that asks whether there is a link between a dog’s behaviour and how attached the owner is to the dog. The study involved a questionnaire that was completed by 60 adults and 92 children from sixty dog-owning families. As far as we know, this is the first study to look at attachment in children as well as their parents. The families completed the questionnaire as part of a wider long-term study of childhood and adolescence.   Most of the adults were female (88%), and they ranged in age from 30 to 62. The children were from 11 to 18 years o

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