Health Benefits of Having a Dog

Having a dog is an infinitely rewarding experience. Your relationship with your pet encourages more than simple companionship. The responsibility of grooming and care will help keep you active. If you spend a lot of time alone, the company of a faithful dog can boost your emotional health. There are many health benefits of having a dog.

A Dog Encourages an Active Lifestyle

If you are inactive, getting a dog is great motivation to increase your activity levels. Studies show that dog owners average an additional thirty minutes a day of healthy activity. Even during inclement weather conditions, dog owners report about 12 additional minutes of activity than those who do not have a dog that needs walking.

Promotes Cardiovascular Health

Having a canine companion encourages people to stay more active as they age. A study in Sweden focused on more than three million people with no history of heart disease for 12 years. This study shows that those who lived alone with a dog had a 33 percent reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than people who lived alone without a dog. The benefits to cardiovascular health include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increased activity
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Lower triglycerides
  • Decreased risk of atherosclerosis (Hardening arteries)

Reduces Your Children’s Risk of Asthma and Allergies

You may have assumed that having a pet would increase the risk of developing allergies because of the pet dander. That seems to be a misconception. A study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tested infants after birth and followed up with them a year later. Those children in homes with dogs, cats and farm animals had fewer incidence of allergic reactions and eczema. Children raised with pets also had indications of stronger immune system function.

Canine Companionship Encourages Social Interaction

While on the surface dog walking appears to be a solitary activity, having a canine pet can help you stay connected with others in your community. Dogs give people, even the shyest people, a natural conversation starter. Others will often approach and ask about a dog’s breed or to watch a dog performing tricks. Walking your dog will give you the opportunity to meet other dog owners, exchange pleasant conversation and potentially create new friendships.

Traveling with your canine side-kick can make your travel time much more enjoyable, especially if you typically travel alone. It is not difficult to find a pet-friendly hotel, and when you travel with your dog, unfamiliar surroundings feel a bit more like home. You may even meet a few other dogs and their owners while you are out for a walk together

Eases Anxiety and Stress

There are many medications available to increase serotonin and dopamine levels. These are the neurotransmitters in your brain that increase pleasant feelings and calm anxieties. Spending time with a pet also boosts dopamine and serotonin levels, and much more enjoyable than swallowing more pills.

Dogs fulfill your basic need for touch. Stroking, touching or hugging a pet can also help calm stress and anxiety. Adopting a dog is shown to decrease the symptoms of several mental health concerns. Some of those conditions include:

  • Depression
  • General Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Canine companionship is rewarding, physically and emotionally. The devoted companionship of a faithful dog can help treat depression, lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol levels and may even prevent or reduce depression. A dog is more than a pet. Canine companionship is a step towards better health.

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