The surprising part of your life that is strongly influenced by your DNA

Your eye colour, your motivation, your level of life satisfaction and your mental fitness are genetically driven. It turns out there is something else in your life that is strongly influenced by your DNA.

In the last few weeks, the Edwards household has added Master Murphy, Hungarian Vizsla, to the census list. For those of you who are familiar with the breed, you may know that they are known as velcro dogs. That is, they want to be next to you, on you, on top of you or underneath you at all times.

I’m so delighted to have this little creature join our already busy household because, as it turns out, dog ownership is actually in our genes. A joint Swedish/British study looking at more than 50,000 twins found that the heritability of dog ownership due to additive genetic effects was 57% in women, and 51% in men.

So whether you’re a “dog person” or not is actually part of your genetic make-up. If you’re lucky enough to be a dog person, then get ready for a variety of other benefits. Dog ownership is associated with:

  • Better health especially in improving our heart health as dogs can help lower blood pressure
  • Helping us get active outdoors and enjoying some fresh air
  • Improving mental health when it comes to stress, anxiety and feeling alone – A recent study found that spending 10 minutes petting a dog can significantly reduce our cortisol production (the stress hormone)
  • Increased lifespan

However, at week 3 in my puppy parenting journey, I’m still deciding whether it is also connected to increased work performance….it’s hard to get work done when you have a pair of eyes on you the whole time.

COVID-19 has changed everything. How we work, how we live and what we value in our life. If you already have a pet, then this may come as a gentle reminder to spend at least 10 minutes of quality time daily with them (taking the dog for a walk while checking emails doesn’t count).

If you don’t own a pet, you can borrow one now and then through the various Borrow-a-Pet schemes available in major cities or offer your neighbour to spend some time with their pet.