Need a reason to love your dog more than you already do? How about these 5 health benefits?
Anyone who has ever owned a dog is likely to agree that life is simply better when you have a furry companion by your side. Man’s (or woman’s) best friend offers unconditional love. They are a devoted companion who keeps you feeling needed and entertained. What you may be surprised to find out is that our dogs don’t just give us a warm fuzzy feeling. There’s science-backed evidence showing that dogs actually help to keep us healthier physically, mentally and emotionally.
Here are 5 ways your dog can improve your health:
1. Dogs may strengthen your heart. Sure, your heart may be fuller if you share your life with a furry friend, but did you know it may also be healthier? An extensive review of scientific studies published over nearly 70 years found that dog owners had a lower risk of death, thanks to factors like lower blood pressure and less stress. Petting that dog may calm your nerves and ease blood pressure, which not only makes you feel good but can keep your ticker stronger.
2. Dogs help reduce stress. Speaking of stress, your canine companion is the ultimate stress reliever. As mentioned, that’s good for your heart, but it’s also good for your mental well-being. Being around a dog can help reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. And it doesn’t even need to be your dog. Therapy dogs are often used to lower stress and anxiety in hospital patients. Many colleges schedule time for students to play with puppies during final exams to ease stress.
3. Dogs can improve your social life. Not only are dogs the perfect companions, but they may also make it easier for you to develop relationships with other people. Research has shown that dog owners may find it easier to make friends. After all, think of how often you talk to someone or they talk to you simply because there’s a dog by your side? Some research also suggests that you may appear more attractive and likable when you’re with a dog.
4. Dogs can make you fitter. Your dog needs to go for a walk, and that means you need to get off the couch, too. Studies have shown that dog owners spend about 300 minutes a week walking their dogs. People without dogs only spend about one-third of that time walking. Playing with your dog also keeps you more active.
5. Dogs can make you happier. There are so many reasons that dogs can make us happy. Whether you’re feeling sad, angry, stressed or anxious, spending time with your dog can lift your mood and brighten your day. The unconditional love and constant companionship offered by dogs can also reduce feelings of loneliness.
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Date Last Reviewed: June 16, 2023
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD