I was 37 when I had my first heart attack and 38 when the next heart attack happened.

I’m now 41 and by the wonders of NHS , family, friends and dogs – I’m still here.

The simple act of walking your dog every day can increase your chances of survival after a heart attack or even reduce your percentages of having one in the first place. Essentially it stops you from becoming habitually sedentary and inactive. If like me, you cannot be bothered going to the gym or exercising for the sake of it as you find it monotonous and boring, then a minimum of a brisk 30 minute dog walk per day can make all the difference both mentally and physically.

The statistics and research into this subject are well documented. Dog owners are 4 – 9 times more likely to survive a heart attack within the first year. Dog owners are more likely to be active and subsequently have lower levels of blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity. From a preventative point of view it can have a major impact on reducing the likelihood and occurrence of heart disease.

I am blessed to have had the privilege of being a master to my two Westies. During my rehabilitation and after both operations, they were a major part in me enjoying my road to recovery. They were patient, tolerant,non judgemental and forgiving. I could walk slowly with them and they did not leave me behind, until I had the strength to keep up with them once again. Then after I had made a full recovery it was my turn to repay some of the support and love both my dogs had given me.

My 9 year old male, was diagnosed with a melanoma cancer ( a malignant tumour in the soft tissue at the back of his throat) in January 2016. I was fortunate to have had insurance so I paid hundreds not thousands when the monies for his operation were due. This was only possible because I had the health to get back to work and thus continue to pay the regular insurance payments. He had his operation to remove the tumour with some of his jawbone removed and thankfully he is still here with us one year later, without any impairment to his mouth.( but minus a few teeth!) We are both extremely lucky.

I believe that the shared regime of regular walks and affection has been the most important factor in all of our lives, including my partner and my other dogs well being. When you walk as a pack it’s also bonds you as a family unit.

So whether it rains or shines its important to walk your dogs.
Enjoy it and treasure it.
Going for walkies could save your lives one day.

Ade Dunford

This story is a guest submission and does not reflect the views of Dogs Monthly Magazine, always consult a qualified expert.

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