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Understanding the Connections Between Dogs, Health and Inuit Through a Mixed-Methods Study


Dogs have been an integral part of the Inuit social and cultural environment for generations, but their presence also generates public health risks such as bites and exposure to zoonotic diseases such as rabies. In Nunavik, Canada, some prevention and control interventions targeting dogs have been implemented but have not demonstrated their effectiveness in a long-term sustainable perspective. This study was conducted in one Inuit community of Nunavik and used mixed methods to get a better understanding of factors that affect human and dog health, dog-related risks for humans and perceptions of dogs in Inuit communities using an interdisciplinary perspective in line with the Ecohealth approach. Results unveiled different perceptions and practices between Inuit and non-Inuit members of the community with regard to dogs and highlighted the positive role of dogs and their importance for Inuit health and well-being. This study provides new knowledge that is crucial for the development of integrated, sustainable and culturally adapted solutions to both the mitigation of dog-related health risks and the reinforcement of health and wellness benefits of dogs for Inuit.

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We would like to thank Georges Kauki, Liam Callaghan, Ellen Avard, Michael Barette, Julie Picard, Élise Rioux-Paquette, Mae Ningiuruvik, Susan Nulukie, Sandy Suppa, Isabelle Lachance, Isabelle Picard, Denise Bélanger, Robert Ladouceur, the Nunavik Landholding Corporation Association and all our partners for their help in the organization of the survey: Northern Village of Kuujjuaq, Kativik Regional Government, Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services and the Nunavik Research Center of Makivik Corporation.


The funding for this study was provided by the Observatoire Homme Milieu Nunavik, Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and ArcticNet.

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Correspondence to Cécile Aenishaenslin.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Aenishaenslin, C., Brunet, P., Lévesque, F. et al. Understanding the Connections Between Dogs, Health and Inuit Through a Mixed-Methods Study. EcoHealth 16, 151–160 (2019).

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  • Inuit
  • Nunavik
  • Dogs
  • Rabies
  • Sustainable interventions
  • Mixed-methods