Do dogs help owners live healthier lives? CSU study seeks answer

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Around the world, humans and animals are getting fatter, and a lack of physical activity is a contributing factor to obesity rates.

“People are willing to give up unhealthy habits, like smoking, for their kids but wouldn’t give it up for themselves,” said Dr. Felix Duerr, one of the Colorado State University veterinarians leading a new health study. “So we asked, what about for their pets? We think owners might stay active for their pets, if not for themselves.”

Dr. Felix Duerr holding Flex the dog and smiling
Dr. Felix Duerr

Research suggests that the human-animal bond can promote physical activity in people, and dog-walking has significant health benefits for both owners and dogs. CSU veterinarians are conducting a research study, The Pet Associated Workout Study (PAWS), to see if a veterinarian-prescribed exercise plan for dogs can improve the health of their owners, too.

The study is part of CSU’s One Health initiative to tackle interconnected problems in health for people, animals and the planet.

“The Small Animal Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Service at CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital likes owners who walk with their dogs. Walking your dog is not only good for your happiness and your dog’s happiness, but also good for your health,” Duerr said.

The eight-week study is on its mark, is set, but needs dog owners in northern Colorado to register before it can “go.”

Looking for dogs and owners who:

  • Are able to walk for 30 minutes, but are currently walking less than 150 minutes per week.
  • Are willing to commit to eight weeks of participation in a walking
  • Are able to visit the CSU James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital (300 W. Drake Road) for three study appointments.

Participation benefits include:

  • Free radiographs to confirm or rule out osteoarthritis
  • Free bloodwork for your dog and yourself (voluntary)
  • The chance to win activity collars and other great prizes, including one of five $100 vouchers toward treatment at the hospital
  • All costs related to the study will be fully covered

To enroll in the PAWS research project, please complete the short enrollment survey on the CSU PAWS website.


The study is being funded by the Eldred Foundation.