Healthy Steps with Your Pet

Sometimes our schedules get in the way, and we do not have time to always take our dogs on a long walk, but every step counts. As pet owners, we know how much emotional support our furry family members provide us, but our pups can also help us achieve our health goals, too! 

According to a 2009 article in the New York Times, the University of Missouri found that “people who walk dogs are more consistent about regular exercise and show more improvement in fitness than people who walk with a human companion.” The 12-week study followed 54 adults at an assisted living home – 35 were assigned to a walking program for five days a week, and the remaining 19 served as the control group. In the walking group, 23 people chose another person to be their walking partner, while the other 12 people took a bus to a local animal shelter to walk a dog. The research showed that the people who walked the dogs showed a large improvement in their fitness. The study also found, “walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just a 4 percent increase among the human walkers.” In addition, some of the people in the dog walking group who started the study using a cane or walker, stopped needing these devices to walk!

In a 2017 Forbes article, a study that was published in the Scientific Reports journal found “dog ownership is linked to reduced risk of heart attack – and a longer life.” The study was performed in Sweden and looked at data from the country’s registry. This data included 3.4 million people, who as of 2001, had no history of cardiovascular disease. The team leading the study was able to compare dog ownership with health “outcomes.” For single people, dog ownership was linked to a 33 percent reduced risk of death for any reason or a 36 percent reduced risk of a heart-attack related death. For multi-person households, dog ownership was linked to an 11 percent mortality rate for any reason or a 15 percent risk of a heart-attack related death. These numbers are all in comparison to non-dog owners!

From helping us improve our physical well-being to providing unconditional love and comfort, pets truly have such a profound impact on our lives!

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.