The health benefits derived from dog ownership have far-reaching applications for the future of our healthcare programs, according to ongoing research at Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre.
Node leader Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis stated that the long-term research node “dog ownership and human health” is a collaborative effort of many health experts from different fields.
“It addresses specifically how humans and dogs can benefit each other and how it can help drastically reshape the healthcare system,” Dr Stamatakis said.
“Australians, part of a developed nation with high rates of dog ownership, are in the best position to take advantage of all forms of canine companionships.”
Dr Stamatakis expects the research, concluding in mid-2018, will deliver results to influence healthcare policies and create more pet-friendly environments.
“Forty per cent of Australians own dogs. However, 40 per cent of dog owners do not walk their dog. So we know that the psychosocial element requires dogs to be happy and healthy through regular movement and outdoor exposure where they can socialise with other dogs and be loved and have their emotional intelligence nurtured.”
Along with physical activity, the researchers are also exploring the psychological and social benefits of dog ownership, which are becoming increasingly important as our population ages. We now know that with older age comes increasing risk of isolation which affects our health and wellbeing.
(Associate Professor Immanuel Stamatakis, leader of the research node on human health and dog ownership.)
“There’s now a perception that dogs can facilitate people to talk and interact with each other and we could potentially use this information for applications in clinical settings where dogs could help produce positive outcomes for people in places like geriatric and isolated settings,” Dr Stamatakis said.
He also mentioned that an aspect of human isolation can be addressed simply by owning a dog, because of their companionship, unconditional acceptance and love that humans do not get from other people.
Dr Sue Samuelsson is a caring and dynamic vet in the Northern Territory, Australia who has had a profound effect on many remote communities around East Arnhem Land. She is the creator of i-Vet, an innovative online service designed for pet owners. Away from her busy schedule she enjoys catching barramundi in the Daly River.
©2017 – This article by Mark Bunker first appeared in the Stonnington Leader