Carri Westgarth


Carri Westgarth has recently been awarded a Tenure Track Position to follow on from her current position as an MRC Population Health Scientist Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool department of Epidemiology and Population Health. Her fellowship is titled "Understanding dog ownership and walking for better human health". Her research focus is human-animal interactions, in particular: dog walking and physical activity, childhood obesity and pet ownership, dog aggression towards humans, dog bite prevention, and responsible dog ownership. She has expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methods and uses this to understand how pet owners perceive risk when living with their pets and how they decide to care for them.

Her prior post-doctoral position was funded by WALTHAM - "Is pet ownership associated with childhood obesity?". She is also a Full Member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors and teaches dog training classes on the Wirral. Her PhD was conducted from 2005-2008 in the University of Liverpool Veterinary Epidemiology Group and was entitled "Contact between dogs, and between dogs and people".


  • Master of Public Health degree (MPH) 2012, University of Liverpool
  • Doctoral degree (PhD), 2008, University of Liverpool
  • Undergraduate Degree (Combined Honours BSc) 2002 – Zoology and Genetics, University of Liverpool

Professional Activities

Professional Societies

  • Member of the International Society for Anthrozoology
  • Full Member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors

Editorships / Editorial Boards

  • Associate Editor – BMC Veterinary Research

Teaching Areas

  • Veterinary Epidemiology
  • Veterinary Public Health
  • Animals and Society

Research Interests

  • Health impacts of pet ownership
  • Dog ownership and dog walking
  • Physical activity and obesity
  • Mental health
  • Dog aggression
  • Dog behaviour
  • Zoonoses of companion animals
  • Owner understanding of animal health
  • Dog bite risk perception
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Assistance dogs


Selected Publications

Westgarth, C., Christley, R.M., Christian, H.E. (2014) How might we increase physical activity through dog walking? A comprehensive review of dog walking correlates. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.  11:83 doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-83


Hoffman, C.L., Harrison, N., Wolff, L., and Westgarth, C. (2014). Is that dog a pit bull? A cross-country comparison of perceptions of shelter workers regarding breed identification. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 17,4: 322-339. DOI:10.1080/10888705.2014.895904


Morrison, R., Reilly, J.J., Penpraze,  V., Westgarth, C., Ward D.S., Mutrie,  N., Hutchison,  P., Young,  D., McNicol, L., Calvert, M., Yam P.S. (2013) Children, parents and pets exercising together (CPET): exploratory randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health, 13:1096. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1096.


Westgarth, C., Boddy, L.M., Stratton, G., German, A.J., Gaskell, R.M., Coyne, K.P., Bundred, P., McCune, S. and Dawson, S. (2013). A cross-sectional study of frequency and factors associated with dog walking in 9-10 year old children in Liverpool, UK. BMC Public Health, 13:822. doi:10.1186/10.1186/1471-2458-13-822


Westgarth, C., Boddy, L.M., Stratton, G., German, A.J., Gaskell, R.M., Coyne, K.P., Bundred, P., McCune, S. and Dawson, S. (2013). Pet ownership, dog types and attachment to pets in 9--10 year old children in Liverpool, UK. BMC Veterinary Research, 9:102 doi:10.1186/1746-6148-9-102


Christian, H.E., Westgarth, C., Bauman, A., Richards, E.A., Rhodes, R., Evenson, K.R., Mayer, J.A., and Thorpe, R.J.Jr. (2013). Dog ownership and physical activity: A review of the evidence. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 10, 5, 750-759.


Westgarth, C., Heron, J., Ness, A. R., Bundred, P., Gaskell, R. M., Coyne, K., German, A. J., McCune, S. & Dawson, S. (2012). Is Childhood Obesity Influenced by Dog Ownership? No Cross-Sectional or Longitudinal Evidence. Obesity Facts, 5, 833-844.

Westgarth, C., Reevell, K., Barclay, R. (2012) Association between prospective owner viewing of the parents of a puppy and later referral for behavioural problems. Veterinary Record, 170, 19.


Yam, P., Morrison, R., Penpraze, V., Westgarth, C., Ward, D., Mutrie, N., Hutchison, P., Young, D., Reilly, J. (2012) Children, parents, and pets exercising together (CPET) randomised controlled trial: Study rationale, design, and methods. BMC Public Health, 12(1):208. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-208


Westgarth, C., Liu, J., Heron, J., Ness, A.R., Bundred, P., Gaskell, R.M., German, A.J., McCune, S., Dawson, S. (2012) Dog Ownership during Pregnancy, Maternal Activity, and Obesity: A Cross-Sectional Study. PloS One, 7(2):e31315. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031315


Wedley, A.L., Maddox, T.W., Westgarth, C., Coyne, K.P., Pinchbeck, G.L., Williams, N.J., Dawson, S. (2011) Prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli in dogs in a cross-sectional, community-based study. Veterinary Record, 168: 354


Westgarth C., Heron J., Ness A.R., Bundred P., Gaskell R.M., Coyne K.P., German A.J., McCune S., Dawson S. (2010) Family pet ownership during childhood: Findings from a UK birth cohort and implications for public health research. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 7, 10:3704-3729.


Westgarth, C., Christley, R.M., Pinchbeck, G.L., Gaskell, R.M., Dawson, S. and Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2010)Dog behaviour on walks and the effect of use of the leash. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 125: 38-46


Newman, J., Westgarth, C., Pinchbeck, G., Dawson, S., Morgan, K., Christley, R. (2010) Systematic review of human-directed dog aggression. Veterinary Record. 166: 407


Westgarth, C., Pinchbeck, G.L., Bradshaw, J.W.S., Dawson, S., Gaskell, R.M. and Christley, R.M. (2010) Factors associated with cat ownership in a community in the UK. Veterinary Record. 166: 354-357


Westgarth, C., Porter, C.J., Nicolson, L., Birtles, R.J., Williams, N.J., Hart, C.A., Pinchbeck, G.L., Gaskell, R.M.,  Christley, R.M. and, Dawson, S. (2009) Risk factors for Campylobacter upsaliensis carriage in pet dogs in a community in Cheshire. Veterinary Record. 165: 526 -530.


Rooney, N., Sargan, D., Pead, M., Westgarth, C., Creighton, E., and Branson, N. (2009) Pedigree dog breeding in the UK: a major welfare concern?


Westgarth, C., Gaskell, R.M., Pinchbeck, G.L., Bradshaw, J.W.S, Dawson, S., and Christley, R.M. (2009) Walking the dog: exploration of the contact networks between dogs in a community. Epidemiology and Infection. 137, 8: 1169-1178.


Westgarth, C., Pinchbeck, G.L., Bradshaw, J.W.S., Dawson, S., Gaskell, R.M. and Christley, R.M. (2008) Dog-human and dog-dog interactions of 260 dog-owning households in a community in Cheshire. Veterinary Record. 162: 436-442.


Westgarth, C., Pinchbeck, G.L., Bradshaw, J.W.S., Dawson, S., Gaskell, R.M. and Christley, R.M. (2007) Factors associated with dog ownership and contact with dogs in a UK community. BMC Veterinary Research 3, 5.