NewsDogs more likely to bite in hot weather, suggests Harvard study

Dogs more likely to bite in hot weather, suggests Harvard study

Hot weather is a real torment for our four-legged friends.
Hot weather is a real torment for our four-legged friends.
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9:16 AM EST, January 14, 2024

A team of scientists from Harvard Medical School, led by Dr. Clas Linnman, analyzed 69,525 incidents of dog attacks from 2009 to 2018. The incidents under study occurred in eight US cities: Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Louisville, Los Angeles, and New York. Factors analyzed about dog behavior included weather conditions such as temperature, precipitation, UV radiation level, and air pollution levels from fine dust PM2.5 and ozone.

Higher temperatures, more problems

Most often, dog bite incidents occurred on days with high UV radiation; on such days, the risk of biting increased by 11%. It surged by 4% in high temperatures and by 3% in high air pollution levels.

"We concluded that interactions between people and dogs are more strained on hot, sunny, and smoky days. This indicates that the social costs of extreme heat and air pollution also extend to impacts of animal aggression," the authors of the study wrote in an article published in 'Scientific Reports'.

On rainy or snowy days, the number of bites slightly decreased (by 1%). No changes were observed on days of polluted air.

The scientists, however, noted that their research doesn't account for other factors, such as the breed or gender of the dog, and whether it was neutered or spayed.

Hot weather also agitates other creatures, such as rats and macaques... and even humans. There are statistics indicating that the crime rate increases on hot days.

Heatwaves: Effective coping strategies

We should prioritize hydration, limit our exposure to the sun, wear a hat, and apply sun cream. We should also take care of our four-legged friends by ensuring they always have water available, planning walks during cooler times (early morning and late evening), and investing in accessories like unique mats to help them stay cool.

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