Urban dogs versus rural dogs: What type of health challenges are the most common?

Urban dogs versus rural dogs: What type of health challenges are the most common?

Health & Safety

The UK is often said to be a nation of dog lovers, and people from all walks of life and living in all types of different homes and environments manage to successfully incorporate dog ownership into their day to day lives.

Whether you live in a city apartment, a rural farming community or something in between, the type of care your dog will need and the various challenges they will face are in many ways affected by their lifestyles, and the surroundings and environments in which they reside.

This means that some health issues and challenges are more likely to be found in city dogs than rural dogs, and vice versa – and knowing what to look out for depending on your own dog’s lifestyle can be valuable information.

In this article, we will look at some of the challenges and health issues that are more likely to be faced by urban dogs than their rural cousins, and those that are more likely to affect countryside dogs in their turn. Read on to learn more.

Dog bite injuries

Dogs biting other dogs is sadly a common issue faced by dog owners in both the city and the countryside, but dog bite injuries tend to be more prevalent among dogs that live in cities than in rural areas.

This is because dogs in cities tend to be in closer quarters to each other than they are in rural areas as a rule – on-lead walks on roads and pavements mean that dogs often pass each other in close proximity and cannot get the amount of personal space they might like, and dog walking parks are often quite small compared to the number of dogs in them.

Rural dog bite injuries are still an issue of course, but more of a challenge for urban dogs.


Obesity is another issue that is common in dogs all over the UK, both city dogs and urban pooches alike. However, rural dogs have an edge in fighting the fat, for a variety of reasons.

Rural dogs are more likely to be able to spend more time outdoors playing and exercising within their own enclosed land, which is not always possible for city dogs, and rural-dwelling dogs are more likely to be walked often, and for longer.

City-dwelling dogs tend to live a slightly more sedentary lifestyle as a rule, and the availability of safe walks and access to open spaces can make providing the optimum amount of exercise harder.


You might think that allergies in dogs would be more common in rural dogs, who are more widely exposed to a lot of plants, pollens, and other environmental allergens. However, it is actually city dogs that are more likely to suffer from allergies, and the reasons for this are numerous.

First of all, dogs whose parents have been exposed to a lot of different substances and that themselves have grown up with lots of different potential allergens around (like pollen) are actually less likely to develop allergies than dogs that aren’t exposed to as many allergenic triggers in the first place.

Additionally, city environments expose dogs to a much wider range of compounds and substances than the average rural area, and city environments are often more polluted in general, which can worsen allergy symptoms and also, conditions like asthma.

Road accidents

It might seem obvious that city dogs are at greater risk of being hit by a car than rural dogs, because urban dogs are exposed to a lot more traffic, and at closer quarters. However, road accidents hurt more dogs in rural and suburban areas each year than they do urban dogs and again, a variety of factors are responsible for this.

City dogs tend to be kept on leads more often than rural dogs, particularly when walking by roads. Additionally, city dog tend to develop better road sense due to the amount of exposure they get to traffic, and city dogs rarely roam freely outside.

Rural dogs don’t always see enough vehicles or walk on roads often enough to understand the threat, and many farm dogs and other rural dogs roam freely without supervision on their farms or land, where farm machinery and other traffic might pass through.

Additionally, some more territorial rural dogs even chase cars, which of course increases the risk of an accident.

Ticks and parasites

Ticks and other parasites like mites tend to affect rural dogs more commonly than city dogs, as rural dogs tend to live in or close to the type of environments that permit such parasites to thrive.

Swampy, marshy areas that harbour ticks aren’t generally found in cities, and things like harvest mites and other biting bugs tend to be more prevalent in rural areas too.

Poisoning and toxicity

When it comes to poisoning and toxicity, rural dogs are again those most likely to suffer from ingesting something dangerous, which comes as a surprise to many people. Potential toxins like antifreeze, rodenticides and other poisons don’t tend to be left lying around in city areas, whereas in rural areas, there are more chances for dogs to come into contact with potentially dangerous substances out and about.

Contagious health conditions

Finally, when it comes to contagious health conditions that can be spread from one dog to another, city dogs tend to be more affected – although not by as much as you might expect.

City dogs tend to come into contact with more dogs than rural dogs, increasing the chances of them meeting one that is carrying a health condition – but city dogs are also more likely to be vaccinated as a result of this.

As a rule, city dogs are exposed to more contagious conditions than rural dogs – but rural dogs that haven’t been vaccinated and that aren’t usually around strange dogs are more likely to suffer as a result of contact with another dog that is sick, as they won’t have the necessary level of immunity to protect themselves against an unvaccinated threat.



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