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Research conducted by the University of Missouri in the United States of America has determined that owning a dog can lead to health improvements for older adults.
The study found that older adults who are also dog owners benefit from the bond that they form with their companion. Not only this, dog walking is associated with more frequent exercise, lower body mass index, fewer visits to the doctor as well as providing social benefits.
Rebecca Johnson, a professor at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine as well as and the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing in the Sinclair School of Nursing said: “Our study explored the associations between dog ownership and pet bonding with walking behaviour and health outcomes in older adults.”
“This study provides evidence for the association between dog walking and physical health using a large, nationally representative sample.”
The study involved analysing data from the Health and Retirement Study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration and included data about animal-human interactions, exercise levels, the frequency of visits to the doctor as well as the health outcomes of the participants.
The results showed that dog ownership and dog walking were linked to improvements in physical health and well-being among older adults. Johnson, who is also the director of the Research Centre for Human-Animal Interaction at MU, explained: “These results can provide the basis for medical professionals to recommend pet ownership for older adults and can be translated into reduced health care expenditures for the ageing population.”
As we might expect, the results also suggested that people with a higher degree of pet bonding were likely to spend more time with their dog. In particular, more time taking their dog for walks. Additionally, the study highlighted how dog walking also serves as a means to socialise with other pet owners.
Of course at Swell Pets we are well aware of the amazing benefits that dog ownership can bring for owners of all ages!