Expert Q&A

I’ve read that pregnant women may be healthier if they own a dog. How do dogs help moms-to-be?

I’ve read that pregnant women may be healthier if they own a dog. How do dogs help moms-to-be?

BY: The Dog Daily Expert

We usually associate certain things -- like eating a balanced diet and not smoking -- with a healthy lifestyle, but the latest research suggests dog ownership should be mentioned on that list too. Pregnant women who own dogs are more physically active than those who don’t, according to a paper that was recently published in the journal PLoS ONE.

The authors of the study found that pregnant women who owned dogs were about 50 percent more likely to achieve the recommended 30 minutes per day of exercise. They did this primarily by briskly walking with their pets. The study looked at more than 11,000 pregnant women in the U.K. using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. The PLoS ONE study is the first study to look specifically at the effects dog ownership has on activity levels during pregnancy.

While all of us can benefit from appropriate exercise, pregnant women must pay particular attention to getting sufficient activity. If the mother-to-be gains excessive weight, prior research shows that a range of health complications could ensue, affecting possibly both her and her unborn child. Dog-walking could therefore be a fun and easy way for pregnant women to stay active and motivated during a sometimes-challenging physical time.

“We are increasingly seeing that exercising with a dog can lead to improved motivation and effectiveness,” says Sandra McCune, one of the researchers who worked on the study. “As a low-risk exercise, dog-walking can help women, who may otherwise find it hard to meet their exercise targets, keep active and stay fit during pregnancy. Together with a balanced diet, it could therefore help toward ensuring a healthy pregnancy.”

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/sdominicksdominick


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