Dog bites are more common in the warmer weather

20 per cent increase in dog bites in UK over past 20 years
20 per cent increase in dog bites in UK over past 20 years. Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay

A study has found that dog bites are more common in warmer weather. This correlates with the fact that humans generally are more aggressive during warmer weather (more boozing?!). It also correlates with revolutions anecdotally appearing to happen more in the summer (good weather makes revolution easier)!

The reasons posited are as follows:

  • The hot weather can cause dogs to become more stressed. When they are stressed, they are more prone to seek short-term rewards obtained through aggression.
  • Alternatively humans take their dogs out more in warmer weather and therefore there is more potential for human-dog conflict and therefore more bites in the local park, for instance.

Those are the two general reasons why they think there are more dog bites in summer and warmer weather.

That might not be the entire causation because most dog bites happen in the home and in America, where the study took place, they have air conditioning and therefore the temperature is not warmer in the summer. And they found that dog bite incidents were low on holidays and weekends.

They also found that there was a correlation between high ozone levels i.e. air pollution and increased dog bites. They suggested that this might have a biological basis with more aggressive dog behaviour linked to the oxidative stress ozone causes in the airways.

The study took place over almost 10 years in eight American cities. The study author is Clas Linnman from Harvard Medical School.

Although the ambient temperature and pollution appears to affect the levels of aggression and therefore bites and dogs, the biggest factor as to whether a person is bitten or not is how they interact with a dog.

Linnman said:

“The way you interact with dogs is probably a much bigger factor than the temperature, so learning how to read their behaviour is probably a much more protective factor than staying away from dogs when it’s hot.”

As to the reference to revolutions happening in the summer, it’s not clear whether people feel more in the mood to revolt because they feel more cross in the summer or whether it is more pleasant to be outside and therefore more suitable to be involved in acts of sedition!

Cosy relationship with dogs results in increased dog bites

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