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Dog Ownership and Dog Walking: The Relationship with Exercise, Depression and Hopelessness in Patients with Ischemic Heart Disease

By Susan L. Dunn, Michael Sit, Holli A. DeVon, Nathan L. Tintle

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Background: Dog ownership has been associated with increased physical activity in the general adult population.

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine dog ownership and dog walking and their relationship with home-based and Phase II cardiac rehabilitation exercise, depression, and hopelessness in patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD).

Methods: A total of 122 IHD patients were included in this prospective observational study. Patients completed dog ownership/walking questions during their hospitalization. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Exercise Participation Tool, Patient Health Questionaire-9 (PHQ-9), and State-Trait Hopelessness Scale were completed by mail at 3, 8, or 12 months later. Regression modeling was used to evaluate the significance of dog ownership/walking on exercise, depression and hopelessness.

Results: The sample was 34.4% female and had a mean age of 64.7±9.1 years. Forty-two patients (34.4%) reported owning a dog. Patients who owned, but did not walk their dog, reported significantly lower levels of home exercise compared to patients who walked their dogs at least 1 day/week (non-dog walkers: 36.8% vs. dog walkers: 73.9%, p=0.019). The odds of participating in home exercise were significantly higher for dog walkers compared to non-dog walkers (OR 8.1 [1.7, 38.5] vs. 1.0). There were no differences in Phase II cardiac rehabilitation exercise, depression or hopelessness between dog owners and non-dog owners or between dog walkers and non-dog walkers.

Conclusions: These findings show a beneficial effect on home-based exercise for those who dog-walk at least 1 day/week. Health care professionals should encourage dog walking to increase dog owners’ physical activity levels.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2017
Publication Title Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Volume 736
Publisher Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Location of Publication Philadelphia, PA
DOI 10.1097/JCN.0000000000000418
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Cardiovascular health
  2. Depression
  3. Dogs
  4. Exercise
  5. Health
  6. Heart disease
  7. Mammals