We all know that a dog is man’s (and woman’s) best friend, but numerous scientific studies have also proven that dogs can improve human health. There’s no surprise here. Humans and dogs have been working together for thousands of years, and some scientists even believe the two species have evolved to live with one another. While having a pet will not improve your health if you never wanted a pet in the first place, animal lovers can reap numerous benefits from living with animals.
Dogs Encourage More Exercise
Most of us know the benefits of exercise, but it can be a struggle to find the incentive to get up and get moving everyday. A dog provides strong motivation, and can make your daily walk or run less lonely and more fun. Moreover, you’ll burn extra calories when helping your dog walk on a leash and doing brief training exercises with your dog. For some people, going for walks alone is scary, but the additional security of a canine exercise buddy can make runs and walks feel more secure. I know that with Ranger, I have to walk him every day, and he’s always ready each morning, so morning time it is! Sometimes we even squeeze in an afternoon or early evening walk, which is better for my health.
See the information in this study on pets and our health done by the National Institute of Health.
Dogs Help With Stress Relief
There’s no doubt that dog ownership does come with some stresses, from making sure you’ve applied their monthly frontline for fleas to worrying if your dog will get along with the other dogs at the dog park. But the benefits of pet ownership more than outweigh these minor stresses. Research shows that a few minutes spent petting an animal lowers blood levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol contributes to fatigue, weight gain and aging, and your pet can help counteract its negative effects. A few minutes playing with your dog every day also releases endorphins, powerful “feel-good” hormones that continue to function in the bloodstream long after the playtime ends.
Dogs Give A Sense of Safety
Many people living alone worry about intruders and burglars, and a dog can help give owners a sense of security. Burglars are less likely to break into a house with a barking dog, and your dog can help you feel less lonely whether you’re just spending the night by yourself or living alone long-term. If your dog is older and struggles to move around, you can still rest easy knowing that your dog will get to an intruder before you do. If the dog needs access to higher surfaces, you can invest in a pet studio dog ramp to make it easier for your dog to be visible and see outside.
Dogs Generate Social Interaction With Others
People who have regular positive interactions with others tend to live longer and be happier, and pets provide you with a valuable opportunity to meet and interact with other people. Even if you’re shy, it’s easy to strike up a conversation with another person if you’re both talking about your animals. Trips to the vet, visits to the dog park and meet ups with other pet owners also provide pet owners with easy and substantive opportunities for interactions. If you’re still anxious about meeting new people, consider joining a message board or online group for people with similar pets to yours. You’ll quickly find yourself making new friends in addition to learning a lot about your best friend–your pet!
Dogs Help With Better Mental Health
In a fast-paced, high-stress world, mental health diagnoses such as depression and anxiety are at an all-time high. But pet owners have fewer mental illnesses, and animals are even used as therapy for people suffering from mental illness. If you struggle with depression, an animal can help you avoid dwelling on your problems. The exercise and stress release you get from spending time with your pet may even reverse the effects of depression. Dog owners are also substantially less stressed than people who don’t own dogs, and reduced stress is strongly correlated with lower blood pressure, a longer life span, greater happiness and improved health.
So if you don’t own and pet, and want to make some positive changes in your life, go to a local animal shelter or humane society, and find your next best friend today. You’ll both enjoy a healthier lifestyle!
Jane Warren is a pet owner, and web publisher providing valuable tips and advice for consumers and families. Her numerous articles at www.pamperthepets.com offer money saving tips and valuable insight on all types of family and pet-related topics.