11 Health Benefits of Owning a Dog



Here’s a fun fact: dog owners tend to have lower cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and better moods compared to the average person. It might be hard to believe, but it’s true. If you want to learn about more ways owning a dog can be beneficial to your health, then keep reading.

Reduced Heart Disease Risk

An estimated 600,000 people die each year from heart disease in the United States. There are many risk factors, including lack of exercise, poor diet, and more. One way that a dog can reduce your heart disease risk is by encouraging you to exercise. The American Heart Association released a report which showed a clear connection between owning a dog and reduced incidences of heart disease. Long story short: if you want to protect your heart, then buy a dog.

 

Build Stronger Bones

When was the last time you got off the couch and put weight on your legs? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t get enough exercise. Unfortunately, this can make your bones brittle and weak, especially if you’re older. Each time that you walk or jog with your dog, you’re strengthening your bones.

Reduced Allergy Risk (in Infants)

It’s a well-known phenomenon that infants who grow up around pets have lower chance of developing pet allergies later in life. As a matter of fact, they’re up to 77% less likely to have pet allergies, which is huge. When infants get exposed to pet allergens early in life, their bodies develop antibodies for it. So, by the time they get older, these allergens no longer affect them.

 

Lower Cholesterol

Cholesterol is one of the biggest risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. The higher your cholesterol, the more likely you are to suffer from these terrible diseases. But did you know that owning a dog can lower your cholesterol, thus, lowering your risk? The evidence suggests that owning a dog makes people more likely to exercise. And exercise can be quite effective at lowering cholesterol.

Better Mood

Are you so entrapped by the struggles of everyday life that you’ve forgotten how to smile? Don’t worry- it happens to all of us. A great way to boost serotonin levels in the brain is to own a dog. Spending as little as 15 minutes a day petting and playing with your dog is enough to fight depression and anxiety. This is one of the reasons why dogs are given to people with PTSD- it helps them cope emotionally.

 

Healthy Blood Pressure

You should aim for a blood pressure of about 120 over 80. That’s considered healthy. If it’s higher than this, then you’re at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Owning a dog can work wonders on your BP. Did you know that dogs can lower blood pressure better than some ACE inhibitors (Source: Buffalo.edu)? Think about it: would you rather pay thousands of dollars per year in blood pressure medication? Or buy a dog which is cheaper and works better? Most people would prefer the latter.

Dog Owners Get More Exercise

The average person doesn’t get nearly as much exercise as they should. This sets them up for disease later in life. The good thing about owning a dog is that you’ll be encouraged to get more exercise than the average person. And it’s not just a theory. Researchers from The Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that the average dog owner exercises about 2.5 hours longer than the average non-owner. Not only that, but researchers found that owners who walk their dogs walk close to 30% faster than people walking without dogs.

 

Get Rid of Headaches

Are you someone who constantly suffers from headaches? If so, you should consider owning a dog. Not only can owning a dog reduce the frequency of your headaches, but it can also reduce the severity. When you exercise with your pet, you not only help yourself- you help them too. Since dogs can suffer from headaches, running or walking with them can protect them from migraines. You basically kill two birds with one stone!

Dogs Can Sniff Out Cancer

While not all dogs can sniff out cancer, some can. It’s very impressive if you think about it. Some dogs have accurately sniffed out deadly forms of cancer including lung, prostate, colon, and breast cancer.

Fight Depression

Do you struggle with depression from time to time? If so, know that dogs can help fix the chemical imbalance in your brain. According to this study, dog ownership may be able to help fight depression in susceptible individuals. Another way that owning a dog can indirectly reduce your depression is through exercise. Whenever you walk or run with your dog, you’ll encourage the production of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin in the brain.

 

Reduced Arthritis Pain

Unfortunately, there’s no “cure” for arthritis. However, there are exercises you can do- specifically, aerobic and range of motion exercises- than can reduce the pain. Some fun and playful range of motion/aerobic exercises you can do with your dog include throwing a frisbee, playing catch with a tennis ball, or going for jog.

As you can see, there are a variety of health benefits associated with owning a dog. From lower cholesterol to decreased stress and more, the benefits are many. If you don’t own a dog, consider buying one. You may feel better physical and mentally afterwards.

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