Should Dogs be Allowed to Adopt People: Benefits of Owning a Dog
Kimberly Gauthier at Keep the Tail Wagging recently posted an article with a controversial title, Should Overweight People be Allowed to Adopt Dogs? This thoughtful piece, while extolling the benefits of exercising a pet properly, also emphasized that we should not be quick to judge others. It also gave me the idea that I should write a similar piece with the roles reversed, from the perspective of a dog and whether or not they should be allowed to ‘adopt’ a human.
Pet Obesity and Human Obesity in the U.S.
As we have reported in the past, pet obesity is a major problem in the U.S. According to the 2013 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), almost 53% of dogs and 58% of cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Perhaps even worse, 17% of all dogs and a whopping 26% of all cats are considered obese.
No doubt this is a big and costly problem. Overweight pets live shorter lives, have lower quality of life, and often require expensive medical care that they might otherwise not need. My back of the envelope calculation suggests that owners of overweight dogs will spend around $8 billion each year on extra food and medical costs as a result of having fat pets. Yet, the problem is worse for us humans. According to the CDC, almost 70% of US adults are overweight or obese, and about 35% are obese. Ouch! From a dog’s perspective, there is about a 70% chance that their human will be overweight.
Benefits of Owning a Dog?
With those sobering statistics in mind, let’s take a look at the ‘hardship’ that a dog might bring to its human.
Let’s face it, humans with dogs will have a lot less time to be lazy couch potatoes and will be ‘forced’ to be more active. Several studies show that dogs can be effective motivators to get people moving. Dog owners are more likely to take regular walks and are generally more active overall than people who don’t have dogs.
A Canadian study revealed that dog owners spent more time in mild and moderate physical activities and walked an average of 300 minutes per week compared to non–dog owners who walked an average of 168 minutes per week.
A study of 41,500 California residents found that dog owners were about 60 percent more likely to walk for leisure than people who owned a cat or no pet at all. That translated to an extra 19 minutes a week of walking compared with people without dogs.
Improved overall health
Humans with dogs will likely spend a lot less time at the doctor’s office and the pharmacy. Darn dogs! Studies show that owning a dog can help a human with a variety of health issues. For example, one study found that New York stockbrokers who owned pets had lower blood pressure in stressful situations than their petless counterparts.
Other studies have shown that pet owners might have reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels for improved cardiovascular health.
Humans with pets will likely spend less time frowning or scowling, and more time smiling. What horror! As reported on WebMd, studies show that animals can reduce tension and improve mood. Along with treatment, pets can help some people with mild to moderate depression feel better. Anecdotally, pets can reduce our feelings of loneliness and isolation by providing companionship. And they make us laugh or smile several times a day, often when we need to the most.
The evidence is overwhelming that a dog (or cat) can have a significant impact on a human’s life. The question is, should they be allowed to make that impact given the ‘hardships’ that they will invoke on their human.
I think we all know the answer to that question 😉Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below - lots of fun fitness tips and advice!