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dogs for health

Happy dogs and healthy hosts!

People who look after dogs become fitter and healthier, with particular benefit for over 65s

At Barking Mad we’ve always know that our system of matching up dogs with loving host families as a place to stay on holiday – a great alternative to kennels – offers numerous benefits to their often retired, short-break canine parents. We often see first hand the physical and mental benefits of spending time with dogs. Now, thanks to new research from the University of St Andrews, there is scientific evidence. Owning a dog makes people fitter and

healthier, in particular the over 65s, according to the study, available at The research, published in the journal

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Preventative Medicine, found that dog owners over the age of 65 act ten years younger than their biological age. The study, led by Dr Zhiqiang Feng, also found that owning a dog can have a beneficial effect on an elderly person’s mental health. Previous studies have looked at the

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positive benefits of pet ownership on the elderly, with dog owners being shown to have fewer symptoms of depression, as well as decreases in blood pressure and heart rate. However, this is the first study to look properly at levels of physical activity in the over 65 group. Dr Feng commented, “It is well known

that pet ownership may help alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression in older people, but one area that has received little attention is the effect of dog ownership on the physical activity levels of the elderly. Our results show that dog ownership is associated with an increased level of physical activity in the over 65s. On average, older dog owners were 12%

more active than their counterparts who did not own a dog.” Barking Mad’s founder and managing

director Lee Dancy commented, “This study backs up what we have seen first hand since we started 14 years ago. However, we are able to add a unique twist to this health benefit. Becoming a host for Barking Mad allows dog lovers to enjoy all of the benefits of dog ownership without the full time emotional and financial responsibility”.

Great for young families too!

Looking after a pet as a child can teach young people important skills, such as empathy, sharing and taking responsibility. Studies have also found that children who experience looking after a dog on a regular basis are healthier and have greater self- esteem and cognitive development. Children and adults alike can benefit from dogs, which can be a source of both mental relaxation and physical energy.

Carole Chester

Barking Mad Ltd is a national company and I am your local branch representative. Please call me on 01442 832594 / 07842 837792 or email: 25

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