Canine Charter for Human Health

Charity calls on GPs to start prescribing dogs: One walk, twice a day!

It is official dogs are good for your health. In 2008 Dogs Trust launched its Canine Charter for Human Health. We called on GPs and health professionals to prescribe the benefits of dog ownership to their patients

Supported by Channel 4 GP Dr Christian Jessen, Dogs Trust has gathered together concrete proof that dog ownership is good for our health. We compiled independent academic research from around the world to highlight the main nine areas in which owning or interacting with a dog can improve your health.

"As well as reducing loneliness and depression by providing companionship, dogs have been shown to assist in the recovery from certain medical conditions, such as heart attacks, and in the development of children with learning and social difficulties. I would ask that all GPs be aware of the importance of animals in promoting human health and happiness and call on them to proactively inform their patients of the diverse ways in which dogs can improve our lives."

- Channel 4's Dr Christian Jessen

The Charter's nine points are:

1. Dog owners make fewer visits to their doctors

2. Owning a dog can help reduce stress and anxiety

3. Owning a dog can help reduce blood pressure

4. Owners who walk their dogs are healthier than non-dog owners

5. Dogs can help the development of children with autism and children with learning difficulties

6. Owning a dog can boost your immune system

7. Dog owners are likely to recover quicker from heart attacks

8. Dogs can help safeguard against depression

9. Trained dogs can detect a variety of health conditions - including epileptic fits and hypoglycaemia.

In a survey of 1,000 UK individuals, 80% of dog owners and 61% of non-dog owners agreed a daily dose of dog can help reduce stress or blood pressure and 96% of dog owners and 88% of non-dog owners believe that owning a dog increases the amount of exercise that you do.

The survey also showed that while non-dog owners are much less likely to be aware of how dogs can improve health and wellbeing generally, even dog owners were less aware of how dogs can assist with more complex medical conditions - just 57% of dog owners agreed that owning a dog can help boost your immune system and only 46% agreed that owning a dog would help you to recover faster from a heart attack.

Dogs Trust delivered a copy of the Canine Charter for Human Health to the Secretary of State for Health, and asked for his support in the promotion of the health benefits of owning a dog.