Is a dog part of your health plan?
The history of dogs as pets stretches back at least 27,000 years, when dogs were first domesticated from grey wolves. Initially, the tamest wolves might have approached human settlements in search of food. Our pre-historic ancestors soon realized the usefulness of dogs for hunting and warding off predators.
Dogs were the first animals domesticated by humans. This early alliance between humans and dogs was certainly mutually beneficial, especially at a time when hunting and protection were vitally important. Today most people recognize that the benefits of sharing a close friendship with a dog run much deeper.
oday, dogs are trained to assist people with disabilities and to become therapy dogs that help deal with a person"s mental illness. As companion animals, studies have shown that dogs benefit human health by promoting physical activity, helping to cope with difficult life situations, diminishing heart disease risk factors, as well as alleviating depression, anxiety, and social isolation.
Does a dog help you to live longer?
For example, a study that compared married couples that had a pet vs. couples that did not, concluded that resting heart rates and blood pressure were lower among pet owners than in the control group, and that pet owners recovered faster from stress. (source) Further, among pet owners aged 50–83 with mild hypertension, the presence of a dog was associated with lower blood pressure, increased happiness, and reduced feelings of anger, frustration, and irritation.(source)
A new study has recently made headlines, that dog owners live longer. The 12-week study concluded that owning a dog was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death in the general population.
The risk of heart disease may also be linked to allergies and asthma, due to higher levels of inflammation, reduced physical activity, depression, or obesity. Several studies suggest that growing up in a home with a pet reduces the risk of suffering from allergies or asthma. Besides reducing allergy and eczema risk, one-year old babies who grew up with a pet in their home, had a stronger immune system. (source)
Superfood for man"s best friend
Dogs provide us so much joy and have become more than just man"s best friend. Today, dogs are treated like family members and therefore deserve the best care. To support dogs to achieve a healthy life span, we should ensure that their diet includes healthy ingredients.
Omega-3 fatty acids have become a common ingredient in a wide range of pet food products. A unique, natural, and sustainable source of omega-3 fatty acids is krill, a shrimp-like crustacean living in the Southern Ocean. Included in pet food as a meal it not only contains omega-3 fatty acids, but also highly digestible proteins and other important nutrients. The importance of omega-3 fatty acids for pet health has been proven in numerous studies, showing benefits for heart, kidney, liver, joint, brain, eye, skin, and coat health.
While dietary supplementation of dogs with omega- 3s from krill is good for dog health, indirectly it also benefits dog owners" health, since owning a pet has been shown to improve human health.
By Lena Burri, Director R&D, Animal Nutrition and Health