* 84% of dog owners wouldn’t walk as often if they didn’t own a dog

* Three quarters of people say their dog makes them happy when they are sad

* 70% of people think pets are a good way to meet people

Come rain or shine, dog owners will be walking their dogs at the crack of dawn and last thing at night, and the over 50s are no exception. Research by Saga Pet Insurance shows that the over 50s walk their canine friends 30 million miles a week – the equivalent of walking to the moon and back 63 times.

On average, the over 50s reach for the leash twice a day, but one in eight owners also squeeze in a lunchtime walk for some extra exercise with their pooch. It seems it doesn’t matter if it’s raining cats or dogs outside, as despite two fifths of people saying they don’t like walking in bad weather, given the mileage they clock up – almost eight miles a week – they probably still do. In fact, one in ten 70 to 79 year olds even manages to cover more than 15 miles a week with man’s best friend at their side.

There is no doubt that dogs are keeping their owners fit and active, as 84% of dog owners admit they wouldn’t walk as often as they do if they didn’t have their favourite furry friend to keep them company. But the majority of over 50s believe that pets also improve their mental wellbeing as well their physical health (71%).

However, dogs don’t just keep people fit and mentally stimulated, owners say they help them to socialise and meet new people (70%), encourage them to be healthy (38%) and put a smile back on their face when they are feeling sad or lonely (77%).

Paul Green, Saga’s Director of Communication commented: “Having a dog is keeping many of the nations over 50s fitter, happier and more socially engaged.

A daily walk has proven to have many health benefits, but it's not just the owners that will feel the effects. We’re urging owners to keep up the 'walkies' and help keep their pets fit and healthy, as not only could it help fend off many canine illnesses it could also ensure that if they do have an unexpected accident or fall ill, they're in the best physical shape to recover quickly.”

Labrador By Ccmz77 (FAL) via Wikimedia Commons

Labrador By Ccmz77 (FAL) via Wikimedia Commons

The Scots are the real dog lovers, as not only do they treat their furry friend to the most walks, they also walk the furthest with an average 9 miles week – perhaps taking advantage of the glorious highlands. Whereas, Londoners like to keep walks short and wander a more modest 6 miles a week.

It’s important that owners and pets can get the right treatment if they are injured, but for pets it can be expensive. A poorly pooch with a fractured paw is likely to be off his walkies for several weeks and could cost £458. So getting the right cover provides peace of mind and ensures a speedy recovery without a financial headache and heartache of a poorly pet.

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