Social and physical changes associated with human aging may influence the characteristics of the relationship between dogs and their owners and ultimately pets’ quality of life. In view of the need of data on this aspect, this study examined the effects of owners’ age on the quality of life of dogs. We compared parameters of dogs’ quality of life (owners’ care and attachment to them and pets’ physical condition) between elderly and adult owners living in rural/suburban areas of 2 cities in Northern Italy. Within this context, the only finding was the lower degree of health care provided to dogs by their elderly owners, suggesting a lack of specific information about dog health care, rather than a general effect of the owners’ age on the relationship with their pet. Dogs’ quality of life parameters were also compared between elderly people living in rural/suburban areas and another sample of elderly people living in city centers. The latter were more attached to their dogs and provided them with a higher level of care. In conclusion, this study found very limited concerns about the adoption of dogs late in their owners’ lives. However, in view of the importance of the living context of the elderly on their pets’ quality of life, this aspect warrants further investigation.
dog, elderly people, living context, quality of life
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