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Dog-Friendly Environments Could Seriously Reduce Obesity


Researchers from the University of Liverpool found that proper dog owner education and dog-friendly environments and neighborhoods could tackle obesity in both humans and canines.

The study discovered that approximately 40% of dog owners don’t engage their pets in physical activity on a daily basis and less than half of UK dog owners meet the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity a week.

“It is easy to assume that people who own dogs are more likely to take exercise, but the reality can be very different. If all people who owned a dog walked with it every day, physical activity levels would be much improved, benefiting the health of both the owners and their canine companions,”

Carri Westgarth, lead author of the study said.

To find out why dog owners aren’t more active, researchers from the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health reviewed 31 studies from the UK, USA, Australia and Japan.  They concluded that dog owners have a varied understanding of the amount of exercise their pet needs and added that this problem could easily be resolved with better education.

In addition, dog owners who have access to dog-friendly environments such as parks where dogs are allowed off-leash are more likely to be motivated to take their pets for walks.

“The study also found that some people are worried about their dogs’ behavior and may be less likely to take it out to the park — potentially out of embarrassment or worry about how it might act — but lack of walks may also be causing this bad behavior, due to boredom, frustration, or lack of socialization,’’

Westgarth added.

“There aren’t many studies in this area at the moment, but with such a large proportion of people having a dog, it seems that better education, facilities, and improved relationships with our pets could be a great way for a large portion of the population to feel encouraged to exercise.”

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