Top 5 Health Benefits of Dog Ownership
Many of us own and love dogs, but did you know they also bring you some serious health benefits too! Dog owners generally live longer, healthier and happier lives due in part to your canine companions. Curious why, read below and we’ll discuss the top 4 health benefits of owning a dog.
Dogs Get You Active and Moving
Just having a dog makes you more active. Health experts recommend adults get about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. Dog owners are way more likely to hit that goal! Being a good dog owner means taking our furry friend out for walks and potty breaks. Most breeds need daily exercise to stay happy and healthy (and out of trouble). This is a built-in motivation to get out of the house, out of your normal routine and move. Knowing that your pet’s health depends on you is a great motivator to stay fit and active, if only for them.
Dogs Help You Lose Weight
If you have a few pounds to lose the dog can help with that. Research has repeatedly found that daily dog walks help you lose weight since they force you to into moderate physical activity for 10, 20, and even 30 minutes at a time. A key to this working was that most people walking their dog did not consider it exercise, rather a responsibility to their pet. One study discovered public housing residents who walked “loaner” dogs five times a week lost an average of 14.5 pounds over the course of a year, that is some serious change!
Dogs Reduce Stress
Many studies have found that owning a dog can have significant benefits for us as humans and make it less likely for us to visit the doctor, compared to people who don’t have pets. Owning a dog has also shown to contribute to better cardiovascular health as well as mental health. In a recent study, they measured what happens to the body when a person pets a friendly dog. Here’s what they found: blood pressure went down, heart rate slowed, breathing became more regular, muscle tension relaxed. These are all signs of reduced stress in the body and mind, it’s that incredible!
Moreover, interacting with a friendly dog reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. It also increased the release of oxytocin—a chemical in the body which naturally reduces stress. The study went on to show the sensory act of stroking a pet lowers blood pressure, reducing stress. Consequently, studies have shown that dogs can help calm hyperactive or aggressive children and is a key factor in making animal-assisted therapy so powerful.
Dogs Give Meaning and Purpose
As we grow older, especially after retirement, it can be difficult to find structure and meaning day-to-day; but dogs can take care of that. “They force people to continue to do things,” says Kristi Littrell, Adoption Manager at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. “So, even if you’re not feeling well emotionally or physically, the dog doesn’t care. I mean, they care, but they still want you to feed them and take them for a walk.”
Dogs can help prevent loneliness and isolation, as well, which is extremely important in staving off cognitive decline and disease. “It helps us to not just focus on our needs,” says Joubert. “It gives us a reason to really get up in the morning as there is another being who is depending on us.
Dogs Enhance Social Connections
As we age, it becomes harder to get out and meet people. Not so for dog owners. Dogs can be great conversation starters and can make it easy to connect with other people. Just take your dog out in public and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about as you dog will most certainly entice others to come and ask if they can pet or play with your pup.
Dogs can be a wonderful addition to any family, for all the reasons above. If you are considering getting a dog as a pet for your family, my advice would be to make sure you are ready for the responsibility. Owning a pet is a real commitment and it does require significant portions of your time. I’m sure most dog owners will agree that they’re worth it though!
- Jul 01, 2019
- in Pet Blog