Dog Longevity Survey Part II. How Important is Physical Contact to Longevity?

Do you find it interesting that overwhelming majority of people who took the survey consider physical contact extremely important to longevity? The results would make physical contact the second most important thing to a dog's longevity after weight management.

Extremely important76.67%
Somewhat important  3.33%
Not important  0.00%
I don't know  0.00%
Other  0.00%

Is physical contact really that crucial?

I roughly touched on one type of physical contact, grooming, and its impact on longevity in the last article. There is the direct benefit of being able to detect any parasites, abnormalities or pain. There is the indirect benefit of bonding and release of happy hormones. Physical contact promotes trust and bonding.

Photo Adrianna Calvo

In humans, physical contact lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Here is something interesting - according to some research, physical contact boosts the immune system. Does it have the same benefit for dogs? No studies seem to have been done into the matter. The assumption would be that it might provide similar benefits whether it is the physical aspect, or the social contact aspect.

Of course, then there are special types of physical contact, such as massage, acupressure or T-Touch. Those have very clear and specific benefits.

What do you think? 

Is physical contact beneficial to your dog and why? And how much of that should be left for your dog to decide?

Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
How Important Is Weight Management for Longevity?
How Important Is Diet for Longevity?
How Important Is Exercise for Longevity?
How Important Is Mental Stimulation for Longevity?
How Important Is Dental Health for Longevity?
How Important Is Vaccination for Longevity?
How Important Is Spay and Neuter for Longevity?
How Important Is Parasite Prevention and Screening for Longevity?
How Important Are Wellness Exams for Longevity?
How Important Is Disease and Injury Prevention for Longevity?
Dog Longevity Survey Part II Results
Dog Longevity Survey Part II: How Important are Supplements to Longevity?
Dog Longevity Survey Part II: How Important is Training to Longevity?
Dog Longevity Survey Part II. How Important is Socialization to Longevity?
Dog Longevity Survey Part II. How Important is Stress Reduction to Longevity?
Dog Longevity Survey Part II. How Important is Grooming to Longevity?


  1. I can't imagine a life without physical contact. Why should pets have to? I feel so bad for pets who do not have humans in their lives that love them. Thank you for spreading awareness!

    1. Yes, it would stand to reason that physical contact is just as important to dogs as to us, even though their ways might be different.

  2. I think some dogs like to be touched more than others. Buffy loves pets and often asks to come onto my lap. Chipper would walk away when I started petting him. Petting may be more important to us humans sometimes, than for the dogs.

    1. Physical contact, of course, isn't just petting; there are other ways. But yes, some dogs aren't into getting pets.

  3. Touch is a human need and I am sure animals benefit. It may depend on background and personality. Some of our cats adore head rubs, chin scritches and strokes. Others move away. But they all communicate in some way with us, their humans.

    1. I don't know much about cats other than they seem to do a lot of rubbing against people. Perhaps they like it better if they get to initiate it.

  4. While I don't think I would consider physical contact to be more important for longevity than diet, vet care, exercise, or other similar things, I do think it is important for a dog's happiness, which in turn probably affects their health. I think it probably depends on the dog too. Some dogs are needier and get depressed if they don't have attention and affection from their humans, while others are more independent. It would be interesting to see studies done about this!

    1. I do find it interesting that physical contact got one of the highest votes for its importance to longevity.

  5. we massage the wee one after long hikes... and we have our snuggle sessions. At HIS request mind you. Never forced.

  6. Peep #1 says that peeps feel a need to be touched. I'm a cat and I definitely feel a need to be touched. I would think doggies would, too. It's important to know you're safe and loved in order to remain healthy. purrs

  7. Interesting thoughts. We've read a lot of research about humans who lack human contact, especially as infants. It makes sense that the same would hold for animals.

  8. Two of my dogs initiate lots of physical contact. We always comply, the third one seems happier with a quick belly rub and a short petting session, but she doesn't want to sit on the sofa and cuddle the way the other two do. We've had her since she was a puppy, so I think it is just her personality.


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