Longitudinal evidence of the impact of dog ownership and dog walking on mental health

Y. Cui, M. Russell, M. Davern, H. Christian

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6 Citations (Scopus)
402 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Emerging evidence supports the physical health and social benefits of dog ownership. This study examined the longitudinal effect of dog ownership and dog walking on mental health.

Methods: Data from a cohort of 1023 participants taking part in the RESIDential Environments project, in Perth, Western Australia were collected over a 2 year period (baseline and follow-up). Self-report survey items measured mental health (stress and depression), dog ownership status and weekly minutes of dog walking. Logistic regression models accounted for potential confounding factors including socio-demographic, self-rated health and baseline mental health.

Results: Overall, no statistically significant effects were observed over time between dog ownership and stress (adjusted OR: 1.20; 95% CI: 0.79, 1.81) or depression (adjusted OR: 1.51; 95% CI: 0.72, 3.16). There was a small inverse but non-significant association between weekly minutes of dog walking and stress over time (adjusted OR: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.60, 1.22).

Conclusion: There was little evidence of prospective associations between dog ownership or dog walking and mental health. Further research is required to confirm longitudinal relationships between dog ownership and dog walking and mental health and investigate dog-related factors, such as a person's attachment to their dog.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e145-e152
JournalJournal of Public Health (United Kingdom)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2021


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