Amazing Health Benefits of Having a Dog
If you're dog owner, then you can relate to the old adage of a dog being a man's best friend. Dogs are known for companionship, but few dog owners realize the health benefits they gain by owning a dog. In fact, a recent study showed that dog owners live longer and healthier lives. Here are some of the reasons why:
1. Dogs Provide Meaning and Purpose to Your Life
One of the most obvious benefits of owning a dog is that it can give meaning to an otherwise abysmal life. It adds a level of responsibility that can translate into a more purposeful life. Just like having kids, a dog can work wonders for your mental health. In fact, for many people, owning a dog has helped them to cope with life and overcome such things as addiction.
2. Dogs Reduce Your Stress Levels
Most people are familiar with Bring Your Child to Work Day. But, did you know there is a benefit to bringing your dog to work? One study showed that people who bring their dog to work have less stress. Participants also felt like it helped to improve employee morale and productivity. If your employer doesn't allow dogs in the workplace, maybe it's a perk worth negotiating.
3. Dogs Keep You Active and Fit
Forgoing the gym membership and opting for a dog instead makes perfect sense. Why? Because people with dogs are more likely to be involved in walking and other physical activities than those who do not own a dog. While not every pet owner walks their dog, a dog can be a better motivator than even your closest friend. You might even lose weight.
4. Dogs Improve Your Heart Health
Worldwide, the No. 1 cause of death is cardiovascular disease. Studies have proven that dogs reduce the risk of heart disease and death, particularly in people who live alone. Because owning a dog typically increases your level of activity, the added exercise is beneficial for the heart. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that dog ownership also lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
5. Dogs Keep You From Getting Lonely and Depressed
There's something about the power of petting and cuddling with a cute and furry dog. According to the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, 74 percent of pet owners claim that pets help improve their mental health. That's why therapy dogs have been welcomed guests in hospitals and nursing homes. If you own a dog, their unconditional love and affection will keep loneliness, depression and other issues at bay.
6. Dogs Improve Your Social Life
If anyone has ever told you to get a life, a dog is a must-have. Harvard Medical School noted that having a pet helps to "create human-to-human friendships and social support." When it comes to meeting unknown neighbors, more dog owners (60 percent) met their neighbors than those who didn't have a dog. This makes sense because you're more likely to be about and about walking your dog and meeting people.
7. Dogs Lower the Risk of Allergies and Asthma in Children
Having a dog may protect your child or grandchild from developing allergies and asthma. Researchers found that children who are exposed to animals before age one have less of a risk of asthma when they are 6 years old. Other studies showed a reduced risk of allergies and eczema.
8. Dogs Detect and Manage Illnesses
Quite a number of research studies have shown that dogs are capable of detecting varying illnesses in their owners, including diabetes and cancer. There are many cases in which people have owned service dogs that have been trained to alert them to such things as seizures and low blood sugar. If you or a loved one suffer from a life-threatening disorder, a dog might just save your life.
9. Dogs Help You Grow Old Gracefully
Nobody likes the idea of getting old, but it's a fact of life with which you must come to terms. The good news is that a dog can actually help as you or a family member age. If you or someone you know has Alzheimer's, for example, a dog can lead to fewer of the outbursts associated with the disease.
10. Dogs Help You Live Longer
Want to increase your odds of living longer? Get a dog if you don't already have one. Dogs are linked to longevity and are the main reasons people with dogs have a 33 percent chance of living longer than those without. While this typically applies to people living alone, other studies have found that death risk decreases in multi-person homes too. If you have a hunting breed like a retriever or hound, that's even better.
Little did you know that having a dog provides this many health benefits. Dogs have been proven to help people live longer lives for a number of reasons from reducing the risk of heart disease and asthma to increasing physical and mental health. While this is just a small sampling, you'd be wise to check out many more. Whether you live alone or with family members, a dog offers so much more than just being a faithful friend.
- Jennifer M