Is Your Dog The Key To Your Best Health? 

Apr 21, 2024

We say it a lot, but science continues to back us up! The bond we have with our dogs is important, and goes a long way when it comes to their health and happiness. The truth is, though, it also goes a long way for our health and happiness! A recent study showed that our emotional connection with our dogs plays a role in our physical activity and overall health.

The study, published in BMC Public Health, supported what we probably already knew:  The tighter our bond is with our dogs, the better our overall health and happiness are, too. The researchers focused on 38 dogs who belonged to people of various ages, genders, education levels, and lifestyles and looked at how they interacted and engaged with their dogs. 

To do this, they hit parks and social media to find dog owners willing to participate. They chose those who frequently interacted with their pets in various and consistent ways. After gathering all the necessary data through a combination of questionnaires and physical activity tracking, the researchers came to a couple of interesting (though not necessarily surprising) results.Photo: A father and child sit at the Bark Park with their Golden Doodle.

Research has already shown that dog owners who are more attached to and have stronger bonds with their pets tend to be more active, especially in light activities that involve their dogs. The findings from the questionnaires and physical activity trackers corroborated this conclusion. The research team also noted that the group of owners studied also reported better personal health. They found it interesting that those who were employed dog owners showed higher levels of physical activity than those unemployed, which was surprising as ‘time’ was often suggested as an issue when it came to being able to interact and bond with their dogs. 

Education seemed to play a role as well, influencing how much owners cared about their pet’s physical health, with those who had higher educational levels tending to participate in more physical activities with their dogs. This suggests that education may affect the socioeconomic factors that in turn, may influence the extent to which dog parents can engage in health-promoting activities with their pets.

The researchers of course looked at the health and happiness of the dogs too. They noted and analyzed their health and the care they received, like vaccinations and regular check-ups, and found that those things also had a correlation with how often they were walked. Dogs with a higher body mass index were walked more frequently, while more sedentary dogs were walked less. It’s one of those, “Which causes which?” situations, where researchers couldn’t know for sure whether dogs had higher body mass indexes because they had more physical activity (and conversely, those with less were like that because they had more sedentary lives) or the other way around. Either way, they concluded that physical activity and bonding situations promote better health and happiness for both dogs and their humans.

Photo: A man gives his Labrador Retriever pets in a park.The takeaway? A strong bond with your dog isn’t just good for your soul; it’s beneficial for your health and encourages a more active lifestyle. So, what’s the takeaway? Think about the next time you feel inclined to skip that trip to the Bark Park, or even that morning walk with your dog. Remember that the exercise is good for both of you, and quite possibly the key to happier, healthier adventures together.


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