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Beliefs Underlying Dog Owners' Health Care Behaviors: Results from a Large, Self-Selected, Internet Sample

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Various behaviors must be performed by owners to promote good health for their dogs. The aim in this study was to use the results of an online survey, completed by 1,016 self-selected, Australian dog owners, to investigate relationships between demographic factors, beliefs, dog–owner relationship variables, and the performance of health-promoting behaviors. Specific behaviors examined included the provision of annual vaccinations and health checkups by a veterinarian, regular grooming and exercise, and the provision of a nutritionally balanced diet. Reported compliance was high in the self-selected sample, ranging between 77.8% for annual vaccinations and 98.8% for the provision of a nutritious diet. Regression analyses revealed that all of the behaviors we measured could be predicted from beliefs relating to health care practices and dog–owner relationship variables independently of demographic factors. The extent of dog and owner interactions, as well as the extent to which owners perceived important others to be supportive of the behaviors, emerged as particularly important variables. These statistically robust findings have implications for campaigns encouraging pet health promotion by owners.
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