Are dogs good for our health?
Dogs are amazing creatures, we all know this. The sheer love and joy they bring to our lives each and every day is enough in itself, but it’s easy to forget just how beneficial our furry friends can be to keeping us healthy.
Besides companionship and endless entertainment, it’s scientifically proven that dogs can significantly improve both our physical and mental health. In fact, according to a recent study, owning a dog may reduce our risk of premature death by up to a third.
So, in what way can our canine companions enhance our health and happiness? Let’s take a closer look.
1) Keep you active
Thankfully, because our four-legged friends need exercising every day, it encourages us to exercise with them. Whether it be taking them for walks, playing a game of fetch in the garden, or chasing them away from rabbits, our dogs keep us active regularly, which is great!
The benefits of exercise are plenty. As well as helping to control your weight, the increased blood flow and oxygen levels can help to strengthen your heart and reduce blood pressure. Moreover, when we exercise, our body releases feel-good chemicals such as endorphins, which can enhance our mood.
Whilst it’s important to exercise ourselves, it’s also important to keep your dog fit, too. Barry the Dog Jogger is an expert in dog fitness, and he’s shared his top tips for keeping your pup healthy, which you can read here.
2) Reduced stress & anxiety
I’m sure we can all agree that when we are snuggled up with our pup, the weight of the world feels a little lighter. No matter how tough a day you’ve had, or how stressed you feel, interacting with your dog can really help to calm us down and cast away any negative energy.
There’s science behind this too. A study found that when spending time with a dog, levels of cortisol (the hormone released when we are stressed) present in the bloodstream are significantly lower.
In addition to reducing stress, our furry friends can also make us happier and improve our mood. Whether it be when they excitedly greet you as you walk through the door, the adorable puppy dog eyes they give us, or the countless times they make us laugh with their unique personalities and funny little quirks, our pups are constantly finding ways to cheer us up.
It’s why animal-assisted therapy, provided by wonderful charities such as Pets As Therapy is becoming popular and effective forms of therapy for people suffering from depression and loneliness, as well as giving therapeutic support to those in hospitals, hospices and care homes.
4) Love and companionship
Dogs are incredibly loyal animals, and because of this, they will give you unconditional love. A dog will never turn its back on you, or upset you – a dog will simply love you no matter what. Something that unfortunately cannot always be said for our fellow humans.
Feeling loved is a basic human need, and it’s a need that our four-legged friends will always fulfill. It’s what makes them man’s best friend!
As well as showering you with love, a dog will provide you with companionship, which studies have shown can offset feelings of loneliness and depression, and even add years to our lives.
5) Reduced risk of heart disease
Heart disease is a common killer among adults in the UK. Amazingly, owning a pet is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, and due to increased physical activity, dog owners, in particular, are often found to have much healthier hearts. With lower levels of cholesterol and lower blood pressure in general, dog owners actually experience fewer heart attacks than non-pet owners.
6) Healthier kids
It’s not just us grown-ups that dogs give so much to, it’s kids too! Various studies have found that children who grow up in homes with pets are actually less likely to develop allergies and conditions such as eczema and asthma. Similarly, kids that have grown up with dogs are also more likely to have strong immune systems, which enable them to fight off infections better.
Dogs also encourage a healthy and playful lifestyle, which is super important for kids to have.
To learn more about why pets are great for kids, check out our blog here.
7) Improve your social life
Owning a dog forces us to get up and out of the house, which can be great for social interaction. You’re always likely to bump into fellow dog owners when you’re taking your furry friend for a walk, which serves as a brilliant opportunity to meet and bond with new people. If you live in a secluded area, you can go to doggy meet-ups where both you and your pup can make some new paw-some pals.
Research has shown that increased social contact can have a positive impact on our mental and physical health. Talking to and meeting people with your dog by your side also makes for more relaxed and fun social encounters; which is ideal for people with social anxieties.
8) Life savers!
Incredibly, some dogs can help to detect or ‘sniff out’ a variety of illnesses and diseases; including several types of cancer. Recent studies have shown that dogs use their highly developed sense of smell to identify blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97% accuracy.
So, there you have it, dogs can quite literally save our lives. We are simply not worthy. Although we would never claim that owning a dog is the answer to all your problems, we cannot argue with the facts: dogs make you healthier!
To all dogs, everywhere: we thank you…and we love you!