Dogs. They’re man’s best friend and women’s best warm and fuzzy paw pal. They’re a jogging partner and a cuddle buddy – and so much more. In fact, research also increasingly shows that having a dog can be good for your health. Here’s how.
Better Fitness, Less Stress
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, having a dog can increase your fitness level and reduce stress, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Having a fuzzy friend gives you many more opportunities to get outdoors, take walks, stave off loneliness and become a healthier, happier person.¹
Swedish scientists studied the difference of health problems between similar people in the population who had dogs and didn’t have dogs for more than a decade. They also factored in the income level, lifestyle, age and health profile of those in question. The results were astounding.
Those with dogs had far fewer cases of heart disease and better fitness level. The scientists concluded that one of the biggest difference-makers was just the act of going out for a walk with your dog and enjoying the great outdoors, which is enormously healthy, as well as a wide range of psychological benefits from the companionship and enjoyment.²
Boosted Social Life
Particularly as we get a bit older it gets trickier – and busier – to find time to meet new people. Having a dog makes it easy and is like a sociability passport. You can always strike up a conversation with another dog owner and share stories and fun times. Even if you don’t become best friends you can be dog walking friends or let your cuddly paw pals play around at the park, providing a fun and relaxing time that’s good for your overall health and social life.³
Lower Blood Pressure
As noted above, lower blood pressure and heart disease has been frequently noted among dog owners. Research and studies have also found that those who have had heart problems including heart attacks have a much better recovery if they have a dog – on average – than those who don’t have a dog. In addition to the reasons above of getting more exercise and being outdoors, researchers have found that dogs tend to relax their owners and lead to a lower overall heart rate and milder, more relaxed reactions to stress.⁴
Improvement of PTSD, Alzheimer’s and Autism Symptoms
Veterans who have suffered from combat injuries – mental or physical – often experience an improvement from having a dog especially to lessen symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Dogs have also been found to improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s patients and those on the autistic spectrum. In addition, dogs have been known to “sniff out” sickness and often be the first to detect cancer and organ problems.³
Strengthened Immune System
Numerous studies show that having a dog strengthens your immune system and also lessens symptoms of depression, anxiety, loneliness and addiction or addiction recovery. Is there anything these capable canines can’t do?²
Dog owners also experience less allergies. Assuming you aren’t already allergic to dogs, of course. According to researchers, kids who grew up in houses that had a dog had a 77% less chance of getting an allergy. Scientists believe this is because dogs have a lot of healthy bacteria that aids humans in developing a stronger immune system and becoming more protected from common viruses and colds that afflict other people.⁴
The health benefits of owning a dog are certainly long and it’s clear that mentally, physically and emotionally these special creatures are a blessed gift.