Dog owners are mentally healthier

Dog owners have been found to be both mentally and physically healthier than those who do not live with a four-legged companion.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Dr Matthew Reeves from Michigan State University, claims people who rely on companionship from man's best friend are 34 per cent more likely to hit exercise targets and are also more sociable.

He told the Journal of Physical Activity and Health that the presence of a dog encourages humans to talk to one another, with walking the animal proving to be a catalyst for such situations.

These findings follow studies carried out by Dr Deborah Wells, a Chartered Psychologist from Queen's University in Belfast, which found that dogs can be therapeutic for people. The full paper was published in the Society's British Journal of Health Psychology.

Dr Wells said that having a canine companion can fortify one's wellbeing and protect them from stress - one of the major risk factors associated with health problems.

She added that dog owners tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure compared to those who are petless.

You can read more from Dr Wells on this subject in our news story from March 2011.