It’s official – dog owners in Scotland are fitter and healthier than people without dogs.
This is according to a new study by Butcher’s Pet Care. It carried out research into dog owners in Scotland which indicated that people who own a dog are likely to exercise at least five times more in a week compared to those without a dog, as they walk or run for an average of 31 minutes every day, in addition to their normal exercise.
In the process, dog owners in Scotland will cover an average distance of 728 miles a year on foot, compared to the 364 miles walked by those who don’t have a dog.
The research by Butcher’s Pet Care also found that not only did owning a dog affect the amount of walking a person does, but also that dog walkers were more active overall.
As well as walking around the neighbourhood daily, it emerged dog owners in Scotland are more likely to walk to the shops than drive, more likely to take the stairs than the lift, and are generally always on their feet.
Almost three quarters of dog owners say they love the fact they manage to get so much exercise now they own a dog, with the majority feeling fitter, healthier and more energetic since owning a dog, and not just in body, but in spirit too.
58 per cent of dog owners said that one of the pleasures of walking their dog was due to the fact they have time to think, with a fifth saying it helped them to escape a busy schedule.
Clare Scallon, marketing manager for Butcher’s Pet Care, said: “It’s fantastic that owners and their dogs involved in our research are so fit and healthy with the majority going for walks at least twice a day, this is having a positive impact on their owner’s health which is great to see.
“We know dog owners will walk far more than the average adult, as exercising their dog becomes part of their daily routine. Rather than relaxing in the garden dog owners are likely to be running around playing, and instead of nipping down to the corner shop in the car, they’ll put the dog on the lead and walk.
“There are also some great social aspects to owning a dog such as chatting with other owners when out walking - almost one in ten of those we surveyed said they had met one of their closest friends walking their dog.
“Overall it’s safe to say that dog owners are generally more active and spend more time up and about than those people who don’t have a dog to look after – it’s a really great lifestyle choice!”
The poll reveals the average owner spends 31 minutes a day walking with the dog – which equates to approximately 2 miles a day and 14 miles over the course of one week.
In addition to miles walked, owners are chasing their dog around the garden for 16 minutes every day, that’s 97 hours every year.
It seems walking their dog just doesn’t cut it for some owners, with 14 per cent of owners taking their dogs running with them as a different form of exercise, on average three times a week in addition to just walking them.
Researchers discovered the bigger the breed of the dog, the fitter dog owners were too, with Golden Retrievers, Bulldogs and Boxers having the most number of walks per day.
Over a quarter of owners enjoy their daily walks as it allows them to de-stress after a busy day, while nearly two fifths make the most of the only fresh air they’ll get during the day when walking their dog.
Interestingly, one in ten owners use their daily walks to escape a nagging partner, while a further 23 per cent enjoy walking the dog to talk to lots of people.
Owning a dog has benefits for everyone, as nearly half of owners are more likely to spend time in the garden now that they own a dog.
Clare Scallon continued: “Decades ago, owners very rarely needed to walk their dog as they were often just let out into the garden or roamed the local area freely, but times have changed! It is now up to the owners to keep their dogs fit and due to this their fitness levels have increased too.
“We carried out the research to highlight the many benefits of owning a dog and we hope that it will encourage more dog owners to focus on the health of their pets which includes taking them on regular walks, but also feeding them a natural, meat based and wholesome diet, as the two go hand and hand.
“We believe that what we leave out of our food is just as important as what we put in, which is why all Butcher’s products are free from wheat and soya bulking agents, and every meal is freshly prepared ensuring a great taste every time.”
This research forms part of an overall study commissioned by Butcher’s Pet Care to look at dog ownership today and how it has changed over the decades. The One Brit And His Dog study will be published in spring 2017.