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Dog's Fury: How climate change is making dogs more aggressive – Firstpost

The effects of climate change extend to dogs as much as to people. A recent study found that canines are more likely to act aggressively on hot, polluted days than on cold, rainy days. Dog bite incidents increased on hotter days but decreased on cool ones
You’re not the only one who experiences a rise in blood pressure as a result of the soaring temperature.
In addition to humans, dogs are also affected by climate change. Now, it is turning man’s best friend against him.
According to a recent study, dogs are more prone to display aggressive behaviour on hot, polluted days than on cold, rainy days.
As the Earth experiences hotter days and extreme weather events, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School have also discovered a connection between an increase in dog bite incidents and rising temperatures.
Let’s take a closer look.
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Climate change increases canine aggression
In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Harvard researchers looked into whether contextual factors affect how often dogs bite people on a daily basis. The team examined 69,525 incidents of dogs biting people to identify probable environmental factors that may have contributed to the daily occurrence of dog bites in eight US locations from 2009 to 2018.
They found that the frequency of dog bites rose on hotter days but fell on cloudy and holiday days. “Dog bites represent 0.3 per cent of all emergency department visits, and are a source of cosmetic disfigurement, trauma, finger amputation and occasional severe craniofacial injury and fatality.”
“We found that the rates of dogs biting humans increase with rising temperature and ozone levels, but not PM2.5 exposure. Additionally, we observed a correlation between higher UV irradiation levels and increased rates of dog bites,” they said.
According to the study, violence is a behaviour that occurs frequently among all species and is frequently advantageous in defending territories, securing scarce resources, engaging in mate competitions, or guarding pack or tribe members. The researchers discovered comparable behavioural tendencies in Rhesus monkeys, rats, and mice even though it has been demonstrated that greater temperatures make people more aggressive.
The researchers said, “Inter-species aggression, such as dogs biting humans, has also been linked to higher temperatures. 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.”
The researchers hypothesised that enhanced sex-steroid levels on days with high UV radiation exposure could be responsible for an increase in aggression. This conclusion was reached after studying mice and people.
The scientists discovered that ozone, which has a potent scent, is extremely reactive, causes oxidative stress in the airways, and reduces an animal’s ability to breathe (pulmonary function). “Behaviour may be influenced by a general stress response to pollutants triggered by lung inflammatory messengers, and more direct effects on brain function are also possible,” they said.
As the world continues to experience the heat from rising temperatures, the study stresses the urgent attention needed for animals.
Also read: Oh Dog! Why canine attacks are on the rise in India
Hostility in humans
The study says hostility has also been linked to environmental conditions in a variety of species, with sociological and psychological issues playing a significant role in hostility in humans.
According to Euro News, high temperatures can exacerbate feelings of stress by raising heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration, and difficulty breathing in humans. Additionally, a rise in testosterone production brought on by heat waves might exacerbate aggressive feelings.
In hot weather, people are more inclined to quit their jobs and more likely to use derogatory language and express their hostility in various other ways.
Violent attacks rise in warm years and seasons, according to a 45-year American study titled Hot Years and serious and deadly assault: empirical tests of the heat hypothesis. The temperature has no bearing on non-violent crimes.
This seasonal aggression affects all parts of society.
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Soaring global temperatures
Climate scientists have demonstrated that over the past 200 years, almost all of the global warming has been caused by people. The earth is warming faster than it has in at least the last two thousand years due to human activities including the use of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, according to United Nations.
The Earth’s surface is currently around 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer on average than it was in the late 1800s (before the industrial revolution) and warmer than it has ever been in the previous 100,000 years. The last four decades have been warmer than any decade since 1850, with the most recent decade (2011–2020) being the warmest on record.
Intense droughts, water scarcity, destructive fires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms, and a decline in biodiversity are currently some of the effects of climate change.
According to a UN warning, there is “no credible pathway” to avert temperature increases above 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels with the current climate promises.
Approximately 14 per cent of people on Earth will experience severe heatwaves at least once every five years at 1.5 degrees Celsius warming; with two degrees warming, that percentage rises to 37 per cent.
With inputs from agencies
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