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City or Country Life…Is One Healthier for Dogs?

By Linda Cole

What dog wouldn't love to live in the country where there's wide open spaces to explore, plenty of room to run, critters to chase and ponds to cool off in? We have a tendency to think of city life as more cramped, but there are good things and bad things about living in the city or country. Whether one or the other is a healthier lifestyle for a dog depends more on his owner than where he lives.

When I was a kid, my family lived in the country. My dog Trixie and I explored every country mile we could find. Well, at least the ones that were within the distance I was allowed from home on my own. Trixie, being a farm dog, would roam on her own at times, and brought back some interesting “trophies” from her travels around the farm. One time she trotted up to show off the snake she'd just caught. Thankfully, it was just a garter snake.

As far as I was concerned, life on the farm was perfect, but there were hazards we had to contend with. There was always a chance of meeting wild animals, especially around sunset or sunrise, and there were stray nails that I always seemed to find – with my foot. I had to look out for puddles of oil or antifreeze that leaked out from vehicles, things Trixie found to eat that she shouldn't, or getting scratched by a rusty wire sticking out, just to name a few dangers. However, when we moved into town, some of the same hazards were also present, especially my ability to find stray nails the hard way.

According to veterinarian and founder of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Duffy Jones, country life gives dogs a higher risk of getting injured. More farm dogs are allowed to roam unsupervised which means they can encounter more falls, run ins with wild animals, being hit by a car or some other type of farm equipment, or being infected with worms from eating things they shouldn't. Ticks are also a bigger concern for dogs living in the country. Deer ticks are a danger to us as well as our pets, and wherever you find deer, there is an increased chance of finding a deer tick on your dog.

People who live in the country are farther away from their vet, and the extra miles can make it harder to get their dog in for vet care. Minor illnesses and injuries are more likely to be treated at home. Because country dogs have a tendency to roam more than city dogs, if they develop diarrhea or have bouts of vomiting, it can go unnoticed if the dog is off wandering around away from home. That's not to say country dog owners don't pay attention to the health of their dogs or make sure they have proper vet care. It can just be a bit more difficult to catch everything.

City dogs, on the other hand, have their own hazards. Because city dogs are more apt to be around other dogs, bites from fights are more likely. In fact, they can have a 30.9% greater chance of receiving dog bites. City dogs have a higher percentage of eye and ear infections, and problems with allergies. Dogs living in large cities where there's more urban smog to deal with can have more incidences of bronchitis, asthma, and nose and throat problems.

More contact with other dogs can also increase the chances of picking up contagious diseases like parvovirus. However, the biggest concern for city dogs is obesity. Overweight dogs can be helped with proper exercise, and feeding a premium quality dog food like CANIDAE. A premium food requires dogs to eat less, but still give them all the nutrients and vitamins needed to keep them at a proper weight and in good health.

When it comes to city or country life, neither one is actually better than the other, and both can present dangers for dogs. However, most dog owners are already aware of the specific concerns their lifestyle can pose for their dogs. There are obviously good and bad things about both country and city life. My friends who live in the country are just as much responsible dog owners as the ones who live in town, and wouldn't trade their lifestyle for the other. They understand what they need to look for when it comes to their dogs’ health. Dogs don’t seem to prefer country life over city life, either. They're just happy living with their owner, no matter where that may be.

Top photo: AJU Photography 
Bottom photo: Martina Rathgens 

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