If you own a dog, it’s easy to see that your pup can brighten your day even when it’s at its worst. With the wag of their tail or nudge of their head, it’s easy to see why this relationship is so special. However, beyond the smiles they extract on a daily basis, did you know there are ways our K-9 friends can actually improve our health? You might be surprised to learn that their many hidden health advantages of having a dog’s companionship that will make having a furry friend even more worthwhile.
How Your Dog Can Boost Your Health
1. Lower Blood Pressure
Harvard Medical School took the love a dog owner has and put it to the test by comparing heart health of those who own dogs to those who do not. It found that those who own dogs have lower blood pressure, likely because they exercise but also because of the calming effect these animals can have. The study also noted that dog ownership can help reduce chances of heart disease, although this is not guaranteed.
2. Fewer Allergies
Worried about pet allergies? Your dog might be able to help. A recent study completed by the Journal of Pediatrics found that kids who grew up in dog-friendly households had a decreased risk of developing asthma and allergies. Additionally, dogs in particular helped decrease the likelihood of kids developing eczema.
3. More Exercise
It’s no secret that dogs love to go for walks, play outside, and release their energy every chance they get. Fortunately for you, this means a lot more exercise! Whether you’re taking your dog for a walk or are spending time outside throwing the ball, you’re burning more calories than you would if you were sitting inside on the couch. What’s even better is the fact that your dog nudging you to go outside can give you the motivation you need to get up, which can be the catalyst to become more active on a daily basis.
4. Reduced Stress
When you’re stressed out, having a dog you love to pet, play with, and cuddle on can help dramatically reduce those stress levels. Even just being in the same room as your pup can release the relaxing hormone oxytocin while reducing the stress hormone cortisol. In addition to this, your dog can give you motivation to overcome obstacles in life and become more confident as a result.
5. Less Pain
While a dog might not be able to get rid of all your aches and pains, they can help reduce the amount of pain you feel. This was found during a recent study, which was published in Pain Medicine. It found that patients who interacted with dogs felt less pain than those who did not. Even just short visits with animals were beneficial and resulted in the need of less pain medication.
6. Reduced Depression Risk
Owning a dog can help reduce the risk of depression and even improve mood for those who are already suffering from depression. The first way they do this is by offering unconditional love to their owner, no matter what they are going through. Additionally, dogs accept their owners for all their faults and provide a lot of love and companionship during tough times and good times. Another way dogs reduce the risk of depression is because they help calm and distract their owners when they are going through difficulties. This can help alter behavior for the better and get any dog owner out of a “funk” that’s causing them to feel sad.
7. Reduced Anxiety
When you deal with a lot of anxiety, it can have a negative impact on your everyday life as well as your physical health. Fortunately dogs can help with this by giving you unconditional love, providing you with purpose, and giving you a close connection. All of these things can help make you feel more calm and relaxed, which can reduce anxiety levels considerably.
Dog Ownership and Your Health
With the many studies that have been done, it’s clear that there are many incredible advantages of owning a dog. While those that can benefit your health may give you more reason to bring a pup into your home, it’s important to consider this decision carefully. Caring for a dog is still a lot of responsibility that should be met with research and realistic expectations.