If you’ve grown up with dogs in your family, then you already know how awesome they are. Their very faces have evolved to make humans fall in love with them. They aren’t called man’s best friend for a reason.
But these furry family members provide us with way more than a waggy welcome when we come home, there are a number of other health and psychological benefits to having a dog too.
I’ve rounded up a list of the fantastic way in which dogs can change your health and your life.
Dogs can help you live longer
Research has shown that dog owners have a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular-related disease and have been found to recover more quickly from heart attacks. When it comes to choosing a dog, look at which type of dog will suit your personality or lifestyle best. This web page has some great advice for those thinking of chocolate labradors as a pet.
Dogs help you move more
Staying active is an important part of overall health and vitality, for humans as well as dogs. What better way to get moving than playing with your dog, or taking it for walks. Dog owners on average, walk for over 300 minutes per week compared to under 200 from the average non-dog owner. Wow! Taken consistently over time, this is a huge amount of additional exercise to do which will improve your health and fitness markedly.
Dogs reduce your stress levels
Modern life is pretty hectic, and many find themselves stressed and anxious about a number of things from money to relationships to careers. Owning a dog can help reduce stress levels and improve your overall mental health. Not only do they help keep you active, but petting a dog can release feel-good chemicals to make you feel more relaxed and less anxious. It’s one of the reasons that dogs are used in therapy situations to help people with mental health conditions and PTSD after experiencing trauma.
Dogs lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels
You might not have heard of triglycerides before, but the level in your blood is an important indicator of your risk for certain health conditions such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome. High levels in your blood are dangerous. Dog owners have been found to have lower levels in their blood than non-dog owners of similar height, weight, and lifestyle. Dog owners are also found to have lower cholesterol levels too, another important factor in preventing diseases and extending your life expectancy.
Dogs lower your blood pressure
Being active and less stressed also leads to lower blood pressure for dog owners. High blood pressure can have a terrible effect on your overall health and wellness, as well as put you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and death.
Dogs can help you regain your independence
How clever are dogs? They can do so much more than we think. Service dogs are specially trained to help people carry out everyday tasks and live independently. From bringing your things through to alerting you to an impending seizure, they can do so many things.
Dogs can help children deal with anxiety
Children can particularly benefit from having a dog, especially if they are dealing with anxiety or bullying at school. Dogs are often used in therapy for children and many parents introduce a dog at a particularly difficult time to help their children cope. Of course, dogs aren’t a cure for everything but can make a huge difference.
Dogs help seniors too
Older people can benefit hugely from having a dog. In studies, dogs have been found to decrease levels of loneliness, reduce mental health issues for those in care and calm those experiencing agitation related to dementia. It is common for long-term care facilities to bring in certified therapy dogs to interact with residents in order to improve their overall mental and physical health.
Dogs get us through tough times
If you’ve experienced a crisis, such as a bereavement, accident, or other trauma, then a dog can help you get through this and help you recover psychologically from this. This is through a combination of things such as being there for you, lowering your blood pressure, and stimulating chemicals such as serotonin when you pet or cuddle them. Therapy dogs are often used with those experiencing PTSD.
Dogs make us less lonely
Loneliness is at epidemic levels in some sections of the community. Older people in particular can feel isolated if they have no friends or family around them. One of the downsides of remote work culture is the lack of one-to-one physical contact.
As well as being a constant presence in your life, a dog can also make you more social. People walking dogs often find it easier to start talking to others when out and about as a dog is a perfect conversation starter. How often would you just start talking to people if you didn’t have a dog with you?
Dogs improve your immune system
A common reason for someone not wanting a dog is germs that a dog might bring into a home. Living with a dog can actually improve your immune system. It’s good to be exposed to a range of natural bacteria as it creates a stronger immune system. Children who have pets from a young age tend to suffer less from allergies when they’re older.
Dogs make us happier
The feel-good hormones that dogs trigger in us, as well as improved health, can make us happier people overall, which is important for a fulfilling life!
That was a long list of great reasons to own a dog. They are a great company, make you live longer and healthier lives too. When you’re feeling down they can make you feel joyful. So if you’re putting off getting a dog because you think that it is all about what you have to do for your dog, it’s nothing in comparison to what our four-legged friends do for us.