Intersection - Could Dogs Help You Live Longer? How Interacting with Pets Can Affect Our Health

Nov 8, 2017

Interacting with companion animals can affect humans' physical and mental health.
Credit Sara Shahriari/KBIA

This week on intersection we are joined by Dr. Rebecca Johnson. She is the Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing and Public Policy Professor at the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing. She's also a professor and serves as the director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Johnson researches how people and pets interact, including the beneficial effects animals can have on people and the science behind it all.

Professor Rebecca Johnson
Credit University of Missouri

“There are biochemical benefits that we can measure,” Johnson says. “We can also measure heart rate and the space between heart beats because we know that when you interact with an animal there is a relaxation effect - your heart rate slows respiratory rates and your blood pressure goes down.”

Johnson's research found that there are health benefits for older adults who walk dogs.

The TigerPlace Pet Initiative is a collaboration between the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. The initiative helps older adults living in the TigerPlace retirement community acquire and care for pets.


Assistant producers for this show are Beatriz Costa-Lima and Drew Mathieu.