Dogs can be more aggressive on hot, sunny, and smoggy days, according to a new study that analyzed almost 70,000 US reports of dogs biting humans.
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A study led by Harvard Medical School researchers found that there was a higher number of reports on dog bites when the temperature and UV levels were higher.
On days with higher UV, dog bites increased by 11%, and higher temperatures caused a 4% increase. Higher ozone, a common pollutant, was responsible for a 3% rise in dog bites.
The researchers drew the conclusion that “the societal burden of extreme heat and air pollution also includes the costs of animal aggression.”
Conversely, the researchers found there was no change when dogs were exposed to increased levels of PM2. 5, another type of polluting particle that was measured.
The findings corroborate other research linking aggressive behavior in animals and humans with environmental factors.
A 2019 study on the effect of short-term exposure to air pollution on aggressive behavior in the US suggested that a policy that reduces air pollution across the US by only 10% could result in up to $1 billion of savings in crime costs by reducing assaults.
The research had some limitations and there is no way to know if it also had anything to do with how humans behave around dogs during hot weather.
It only analyzed severe dog bites and excluded all accidents that didn’t required medical treatment or hospitalization.
It didn’t take into account other factors like breed, sex or castration/spaying. It also did not address the “bite severity” and “victim age, gender and familiarity with the dog.” This more detailed information was not included in the public records.
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