Dogs are amazing companions.
They entertain us with their silly behaviors, give us cuddles when that’s what we need, and are always excited to see that you’re home safe.
They keep us company and make us smile, and that warm, fuzzy feeling you get from spending time with your dog may be good for your health.
Great For Mental Health
Having a dog has been linked to many positive psychological effects, including stress relief, decreased loneliness, anxiety, and depression, and overall improved happiness levels.
Dogs reduce stress by decreasing the amount of cortisol (which is associated with stress) that we produce. Even just 10 minutes spent petting a dog can improve our stress levels and put us in a better mindset for learning, decision making, emotional control, and healing.
Pets can help with social and emotional development, making us more engaged and connected with the people and activities around us. They help soothe our negative emotions and promote healthful and effective coping mechanisms.
We feel less alone, and they make us more social. Going on regular walks and visiting dog parks means people with dogs tend to have an easier time meeting new people and forming relationships. They make for good conversation starters. In short, dogs are good for our mental health.
Dogs may even help improve cognitive function in seniors with dementia and other mental illnesses because of the associated decrease in stress and dementia.
Great For Physical Health
When we are happier and less stressed, we tend to be healthier and live longer. When we are emotionally healthy, it is easier for us to make healthier choices in our everyday lives, which means exercise and eating well are more easily achievable.
Dogs help us form healthy habits because they encourage daily exercise. Frequent dog walkers are more likely to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines than non-dog owners. Dogs can help keep weight under control by providing motivation for daily walks and outdoor activities.
Living with dogs appears to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the negative impacts of stress.
This large systematic review and meta-analysis collected data from 10 studies, totaling nearly 4 million participants. The analysis showed that dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to people who didn’t own dogs. When they specifically looked at heart health, dog ownership showed a 31% risk reduction for cardiovascular deaths.
With all these health improvements and the upliftment of your mood, having a dog could even make you more likable and attractive.
Dogs can be great as service animals for people with visual impairments, PTSD, Autism, epilepsy, and many other disabilities. But even a common, untrained family pet can be a valuable partner in your quest for better health.