Why Indoor Dogs and Cats Are Happier Than Free-Roaming Outdoor Pets

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Q: I wholeheartedly agree with your stand against "outside dogs." I hope that people heed your advice and avoid getting a dog if they won't allow it to be part of the family. But, just to drive the point home, could you mention one more reason not to abandon a dog in a yard?

A: Luckily for the dogs of the world, there are lots of pet owners who agree that dogs are not happy living their lives completely alone outside. Their numbers are bolstered by people who agree for a different reason -- they live near outdoor dogs and have to listen to the barking of these neglected pets day and night.

Humane societies, behaviorists and other experts have long agreed that making a dog part of the family makes them not only happier, but also less likely to be a nuisance or a danger. This is especially true if the dog is maintained outside on a chain.

And yes, I've neglected in the past to mention that dogs who live completely outdoor lives may not get the attention they need when it comes to medical care. That's because it can be difficult to spot the sometimes subtle early signs of serious illness in an animal who isn't always underfoot.

Out of sight, out of mind applies to other pets, too: For example, cats who roam freely and just "check in" for meals may not get the attention they need to spot health problems early. Inside or out, cats can be difficult to read, which is one reason why their medical problems are so often overlooked.

All pets deserve good care from loving owners. Make sure yours get what they need to thrive, in thanks for the love and companionship they provide us.

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