JOURNAL ARTICLE

A cross-sectional study of factors associated with dog ownership in Tanzania

Darryn L Knobel, M Karen Laurenson, Rudovick R Kazwala, Lisa A Boden, Sarah Cleaveland
BMC Veterinary Research 2008 January 29, 4: 5
18230137

BACKGROUND: Mass vaccination of owned domestic dogs is crucial for the control of rabies in sub-Saharan Africa. Knowledge of the proportion of households which own dogs, and of the factors associated with dog ownership, is important for the planning and implementation of rabies awareness and dog vaccination programmes, and for the promotion of responsible dog ownership. This paper reports the results of a cross-sectional study of dog ownership by households in urban and rural communities in the United Republic of Tanzania.

RESULTS: Fourteen percent (202) of 1,471 households surveyed were identified as dog-owning, with an average of 2.4 dogs per dog-owning household. The percentage of dog-owning households was highest in inland rural areas (24%) and lowest in coastal urban communities (7%). The overall human:dog ratio was 14:1. Multivariable logistic regression revealed that households which owned cattle, sheep or goats were much more likely to own dogs than households with no livestock. Muslim households were less likely to own dogs than Christian households, although this effect of religion was not seen among livestock-owning households. Households were more likely to own a dog if the head of the household was male; if they owned a cat; or if they owned poultry. Dog ownership was also broadly associated with larger, wealthier households.

CONCLUSION: The human:dog ratios in Tanzania are similar to those reported elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, although cultural and geographic variation is evident. Estimation of the number of owned dogs, and identification of household predictors of dog ownership, will enable targeted planning of rabies control efforts.

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