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  • Harvard Study: Dogs Bite More When it's Sunny Outside and Smoggy

    Harvard Study: Dogs Bite More When it’s Sunny Outside and Smoggy

The costs of animal aggression are great, especially in crowded cities like Los Angeles, CA. The latest Harvard Medical School research indicates potential side effects, albeit unexpected, as a result of rising global temperatures: severe dog bites increased on hot, sunny, and smoggy days. The study suggests dogs are statistically more aggressive and bitey during high temperatures, sunny weather, and smog.

Dog in the city of Los Angeles - Sunny Day

Although surprising, these findings highlight how climate change can impact animal behavior and emphasize why dog owners should consider taking precautionary safety measures to ensure prevent severe dog bite incidents. Below, dog bite lawyer Michael Ehline has provided some valuable tips on preventing interactions leading to dog bites in warm conditions. Our legal teams hope this educational article will help you and your family counter animal aggression during extreme heat and air-polluted, smoggy days.

What Do Harvard Medical School Experts Say?

“Humans commit more violent crimes when temperature and air pollution is higher,” says an excerpt from the June 15, 2023 paper published in the journal Nature.

“Here, we investigate if also the day-to-day rates of dogs biting humans is influenced by environmental factors.”

“We conclude that dogs, or the interactions between humans and dogs, are more hostile on hot, sunny, and smoggy days,” “indicating that the societal burden of extreme heat and air pollution also includes the costs of animal aggression.”

Dog Bites in Eight US Cities

To arrive at their unfortunate discovery, the researchers employed publicly available heat and air pollution data from eight cities across the United States. They analyzed dog bite data from over 70,000 documented cases recorded between 2009 and 2019, intentionally excluding pandemic-related data from their sunny and smoggy days study.

The study also found, “Results for ozone and UV irradiation remained significant when analyzing winter and non-winter months separately…”

Increased Animal Aggression When Hot, Sunny, and Smoggy?

Yes. In their Harvard Medical School investigation, researchers cross-referenced instances of dog bites with the available weather data. Surprisingly, the results indicated an 11% increase in recorded dog bites on days with elevated UV exposure. Shockingly, dog bites rose by 4% on generally hotter days and 3% on days when ozone, a common pollutant, was more prevalent.

The Harvard study indicates dog bite incidents occur far less frequently on colder, rainy days. Dog bites to humans were correspondingly more likely to occur on warmer, smoggy days. These official findings are helping shed light on the complex relationship between weather conditions and canine behavior, underscoring potential risks associated with dog bites and taking safety measures to stop them.

Despite the valuable insights gained from the study, there are notable limitations to consider with dog bite incidents, including seasonal factors like heat. After all, hot weather may play a role in aggression, but it is not the sole factor in dog bites. The public health paper from Harvard researchers emphasizes that the bite records utilized lacked crucial dog-specific factors, such as dog breed, sex, or spaying status. No data was used about the type of person bitten, bite severity, victim age, gender, or the context leading to the dog bite incident. The study seems limited to the societal burdens of these particular potential environmental contributions only.

To be fair to our beloved furry companions, dogs are not the only animals that may exhibit increased aggression in response to more extreme heat. The researchers acknowledge in their paper that a similar link between higher temperatures and aggression is well-documented with violent crime in humans, not just a dog bite incidence.

It is not uncommon for individuals, regardless of species, to feel somewhat more on edge during extreme heat, stating that:

“Dog bites represent 0.3% of all emergency department visit, and are a source of cosmetic disfigurement, trauma, finger amputation and occasional severe craniofacial injury and fatality.”

While these findings offer valuable insights about injury avoidance, they emphasize aggression and how temperature and air pollutants could directly affect canine behavior and humans.

“The impact of temperature and air pollutants were evaluated with a zero-inflated Poisson generalized additive model, while controlling for regional and calendar effects. Exposure–response curves were used to assess the association between outcome and major exposure variables.”

The evidence shows that multiple factors, including hot weather, can influence dog behavior. At the top of the list, is heat. But heat is just one of many potential factors affecting dog behavior and dog-victim interactions.

If this summer’s environmental factors prove to be as scorching as the last, it might be prudent to take extra precautions when walking your furry companion. Consider void significant exposure variables when understanding dog bite rates in scientific reports and sensitivity analysis on sunny days. For example, schedule walks during more excellent parts of the day and be prepared with additional treats to keep your pup and other animals content and comfortable during warm weather. Always look at regional and calendar effects as part of your stewardship concerning interactions and preventing dog attacks.

Final Important Tips and Info

Hot days can make humans behave similarly to dogs. Temperatures rise more on hot days and go down on rainy days. There appears to be a cause-and-effect relationship between biting incidents, heat and ozone levels, and air quality. Michael Ehline, the founder of Ehline Law Firm in Los Angeles County, offers crucial advice for handling most bites by aggressive dogs. For example, the risk of dog bites is higher for small children, disabled individuals, and the elderly, so beware of the societal burden victims face.

Michael says to remain calm.

Here are other tips to make them more likely to bite people, as follows:

  • Create a barrier between yourself and the dog, such as a car or fence, until you can ensure your safety
  • If you or a loved one suffered a dog bite, Ehline says seeking immediate medical attention by calling 911 or visiting a physician if number one. Even minor bites or scratches from dogs can carry the risk of infection from dogs biting humans
  • If you witness a dog displaying aggressive behavior, contact your local health department promptly
  • Professional treatment for a dog bite will likely involve notifying the health department to assess the situation and take appropriate actions against the dog and its owner
  • To ensure public safety, dogs that have bitten someone should be held by animal control for 10 days
  • This period allows authorities to assess whether the dog carries any diseases or exhibits signs of aggression before being returned to its owner.

Conclusion Dogs Get More Hostile on Hot, Sunny Days

Data and other information from eight US cities were comprehensively covered here. Our award-winning legal team hopes this article properly informed you and your loved ones. Hopefully, now you know more about potential dangerous environmental dangers affecting these animals, making them aggressive to humans. (Don’t forget about low earthly ozone levels.) Please teach your children how to approach dogs safely to avoid dogs biting humans. And if you or your loved one suffered injuries from a dog bite, our caring attorney, Michael Ehline, wants to listen to your side of the story in a confidential, risk-free manner.

We offer all new clients a free legal consultation at (213) 596-9642, or you can fill out our online contact form anytime, 24/7. Don’t delay, as every second that passes can mean less money recovered for your pain, suffering, lost wages, or loss of a loved one. So act today to your temperature and air pollution-related dog bite!

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.