The benefits of dog ownership on people as an undervalued resource in urban environments
In countries with a developed economy, life confined in built environment has generated a new need for contact with nature and non-human beings. Nowadays, there are many studies that investigate the possible outcomes of the human-animal bond on people’s health. Nevertheless, few studies have been carried out to assess the benefits of human-animal bond as an innovative resource to enhance people’s health and wellbeing. In this regard, the In-Habit (INclusive Health And wellBeing In small and medium size ciTies) project is a good example of a framework that proposes an innovative approach to the topic of human-animal interactions in the urban environment. The aim of this scoping review was to summarize and discuss the literature dealing with beneficial effects of dog ownership while introducing the INHABIT project as a mean to promote the integration of pets into society through the implementation of adequate pet policies based on multidisciplinary approaches like “One health”. A literature search was conducted in June-September 2021, and articles were selected using a 4-step screening process that allowed us to include 51 articles in the review. According to some of these studies, dog ownership seemed to have a positive effect on the owner’s cardiovascular activity, blood pressure and overall levels of physical activity. Other benefits are related to mental health, like the reduction of depression and loneliness in various categories of people.