Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Canine Charter for Human Health: Owning a dog is good for you!

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It’s official: dogs are good for your health. We're calling on GPs and health professionals to prescribe the benefits of dog ownership to their patients following the launch today of Dogs Trust's Canine Charter for Human Health.

Supported by Channel 4 GP Dr Christian Jessen, Dogs Trust has gathered together concrete proof that dogs are good for our health. Using independent academic research from around the world* to highlight the main nine areas in which owning or interacting with a dog can improve your health.

Clarissa Baldwin, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, comments:
“Dogs Trust has always promoted the benefits of owning a dog, but it is clear to see that there is also strong academic support to show that there are serious health benefits as well. Many dog owners are already aware of many of the benefits their dogs bring, but we want to take the message out further to the wider population. We will be distributing copies of the Charter to GPs, counsellors and therapists and anyone working towards the improvement of health and wellbeing, for them to explain or display to the public.”
Channel 4’s Dr Christian Jessen adds:
“As well as reducing loneliness and depression by providing companionship, dogs have been shown to assist in the recovery from certain medical conditions, such as heart attacks, and in the development of children with learning and social difficulties. I would ask that all GPs be aware of the importance of animals in promoting human health and happiness and call on them to proactively inform their patients of the diverse ways in which dogs can improve our lives.”
In a supporting survey of 1,000 UK individuals, 80% of dog owners and 61% of non-dog owners agreed a daily dose of dog can help reduce stress or blood pressure and 96% of dog owners and 88% of non-dog owners believe that owning a dog increases the amount of exercise that you do.

The survey also showed that while non-dog owners are much less likely to be aware of how dogs can improve health and wellbeing generally, even dog owners were less aware of how dogs can assist with more complex medical conditions - just 57% of dog owners agreed that owning a dog can help boost your immune system and only 46% agreed that owning a dog would help you to recover faster from a heart attack.

Dogs Trust will be delivering a copy of the Canine Charter for Human Health to Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson MP and asking for his support in the promotion of the health benefits of owning a dog.

*There are two many research references to list them all in this post. If you would like a copy of them, please email and I will send you a pdf.

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