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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The spatial distribution of pet dogs and pet cats on the island of Ireland

Martin J Downes*, Tracy A Clegg, Daniel M Collins, Guy McGrath and Simon J More

Author Affiliations

Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, Veterinary Sciences Centre, UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

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BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:28  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-28

Published: 10 June 2011

Abstract

Background

There is considerable international research regarding the link between human demographics and pet ownership. In several international studies, pet ownership was associated with household demographics including: the presence of children in the household, urban/rural location, level of education and age/family structure. What is lacking across all these studies, however, is an understanding of how these pets are spatially distributed throughout the regions under study. This paper describes the spatial distribution of pet dog and pet cat owning households on the island of Ireland.

Results

In 2006, there were an estimated 640,620 pet dog owning households and 215,542 pet cat owning households in Ireland. These estimates are derived from logistic regression modelling, based on household composition to determine pet dog ownership and the type of house to determine pet cat ownership. Results are presented using chloropleth maps. There is a higher density of pet dog owning households in the east of Ireland and in the cities than the west of Ireland and rural areas. However, in urban districts there are a lower proportion of households owning pet dogs than in rural districts. There are more households with cats in the urban areas, but the proportion of households with cats is greater in rural areas.

Conclusions

The difference in spatial distribution of dog ownership is a reflection of a generally higher density of households in the east of Ireland and in major cities. The higher proportion of ownership in the west is understandable given the higher proportion of farmers and rural dwellings in this area. Spatial representation allows us to visualise the impact of human household distribution on the density of both pet dogs and pet cats on the island of Ireland. This information can be used when analysing risk of disease spread, for market research and for instigating veterinary care.