By Cory Eckert
Families across the world bring dogs into their homes to love and be a part of their family.
However, did you know that having a dog is linked to having a longer life?
A pup not only fills your heart, but they can do wonders for your overall health. Many studies have proven that there are numerous benefits to having a canine pal. Even on the worst day, it’s always better with “man’s best friend” by your side.
Here are some of the many benefits of having a dog as a member of your brood.
PHYSICAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF DOGS
Dogs need lots of exercise to stay healthy. Keeping them fit and trim is essential for their overall health. But did you know that many studies show that having a dog improves YOUR overall health?
Dogs Keep You Active
Medical experts state that the average adult needs between two to three hours of exercise each week to be healthy. With today’s busy schedules, some people can’t fit a moderate workout into their chaotic life.
However, dog owners find that getting in their required activity is not that much of a chore. Walking your canine friend doesn’t seem like an exhausting workout, but it’s a great exercise that your body needs. Just having a fur baby makes people more active, and it’s always fun when you’re walking with your pal by your side.
Did you know that people who have dogs are more likely to still be mobile well into their golden years? Many 70 and 80-year old individuals can still walk and get around well thanks to their canine companions.
A regular walking routine helps to lower your overall body’s mass index. Additionally, when you’re out enjoying the sunshine and Mother Nature, then you have less need for doctor visits and the perils that come with a sedentary lifestyle.
Dogs Can Help You Lose Weight
Fighting the battle of the bulge is no easy feat. With fast-food eateries on every corner, a healthy diet and exercise is a difficult task.
Luckily, walking your dog daily can help you to lose weight. Even a 30-minute walk around the block can give you a moderate amount of physical activity that you need.
A study showed that people who walk their dog at least five times a week lose an average of 15 pounds in a year. The beautiful thing is that a dog needs you to walk them, so most people feel like they are taking care of their pets and not doing a mundane task. A dog is a responsibility, but the benefits of having such a wonderful duty cannot be ignored.
Dogs Keep Your Heart Healthy
Canines have a way of warming their way into your heart; however, studies show that they also make your ticker a bit stronger.
Did you know that having a dog can decrease your blood pressure as well as reduce your cholesterol levels? With great blood pressure and cholesterol levels that are acceptable, your overall heart health will improve.
Another interesting find is that when a pet owner has a heart attack, they will have a better chance of surviving if they have a fur baby by their side. A dog gives you a reason to live when there is no one else around.
Dogs Can Prevent Allergies in Kids
It’s an old wives' tale that having a dog can give children allergies. Thankfully, recent research shows that this myth is completely inaccurate. Having a dog can actually lower your chance of developing allergens to pets, especially for your children.
A dog exposes kids to germs that homes without these pets don’t have, and 33 percent of the exposed children will have a stronger immune system. The risk for general illness decreased due to better immune systems and being exposed to a wider variety of germs.
Simply put, dog owners get sick less because they build better immunity.
PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF DOGS
Now that you know about the physical aspects of your health, there are also psychological aspects that should also be explored.
Having a pet can make you happy and improve your overall mood, but that's just the beginning. Here's a few other psychological benefits dogs owners enjoy.
Dogs Can Improve Your Social Life
It's harder to meet new people and socialize once you get older. Thankfully, when you have a dog, it seems that you increase your chances by more than 40 percent of meeting new friends.
If you’re walking your pooch, taking them to the dog park, and having them out in public with you, then people will notice. A dog owner tends to be a bit more outgoing than someone who doesn’t have a pet.
You are more apt to open up to people and engage in conversation about your animal. Studies show that people who have a canine really blossom and want to talk to others about their beloved pet.
Dogs Reduce Stress
Dogs are used as therapy pets because it’s very effective. Numerous studies have shown that just being near a pet lowers anxiety and depression. It all comes down to the increasing of neurochemicals in the brain.
Both serotonin and dopamine are responsible for making you feel calm and serene. When you have a dog around, research shows that they ease tension and strain.
Many companies are allowing people to bring their dogs to work because they are so beneficial for production and the overall atmosphere. It sounds crazy, but companies like Google and Etsy are just two that are encouraging pets in the workplace. The stress relief that these pets bring is undeniable.
Dogs Add Meaning and Purpose
Once the children leave the nest and the retirement age is at hand, it’s hard to fill the days and nights with meaning. I know that's difficult to imagine in your younger years but it's true.
Thankfully, having a canine friend can help with loneliness and overall angst. When you have a dog, you are forced to get out of bed and take care of them.
Depression and an overall unwell feeling can quickly set in for those who have nothing to do with their time. However, a dog still needs care even if you don’t feel good emotionally or physically.
Plus, they make a great listening ear to talk about your problems, and they won’t send you a bill for their services either.
Dogs Prevent Depression and Improve Your Mood
When you have a dog looking at you with adoring eyes, wagging their tail, and overcome with excitement to see you, it’s hard to be sad. There have been various studies on the effects a dog has on the psyche, and they are all positive.
Who can be depressed when they are getting affectionate licks, have the comfort of the pup snuggling beside you, and you can feel the warmth of their unconditional love?
Pets can instantly cheer even the saddest person because their effect on the brain’s chemicals is remarkable.
GENERAL WELL BEING BENEFITS OF DOGS
While the health benefits of owning a dog certainly impact your mental and physical health, they also provide many other benefits. Who knew that Fido was so valuable?
Dogs Make You Feel Safe
Did you know that 86 percent of burglars polled said that they would avoid homes with big dogs? Canines are great for providing protection just by being present. There’s something about having Fido standing on guard that just makes things feel more secure. That doesn't mean we expect them to patrol the grounds and fight crime, just being there and having a second set of eyes and ears is enough. Dogs have a keen sense of hearing and smell, and they can see through the darkness. Since their senses are way stronger than that of a human, you can rest easy knowing that they are on guard. It’s nice to know that just having them close makes a burglar look the other way. The loud bark of a dog is enough to scare off even the most skilled robber. If your dog likes to bark a lot, then it may not be a bad thing.
Everyone Loves Dog Cuddles
There's something special about being snuggled by a dog. To the person who sleeps alone at night, having that warm body lying close to them makes them feel safe and secure.
Dogs also help to stave away the blues of a lonely person. You see pets becoming fixtures in nursing homes and senior communities where loneliness is a significant problem. Having companionship doesn’t always need to be another human, often times a dog does the job better!
Dogs Provide Great Free Entertainment
Dogs are so easy to train and teach new tricks. Have you ever seen a pup fetch the newspaper, bedroom slippers, or other toys? They love to play fetch and get attention from their owners.
The internet and television are full of pups that had someone work with them to teach them amazing things. There are no limitations to what these dogs can be taught with a little patience.
Due to their keen intelligence, police departments and organizations like the FBI use dogs to help them solve a crime, catch a criminal, find drugs and do various other tasks to make their job easy.
In any case, rather entertaining you with tricks or just watching them be goofy with their varied but often comical personalities, no dog owner could ever dispute the value of a good laugh provided by their dog.
Dogs Have A Great Sense of Loyalty
One of the best things about having a dog is the loyalty that they feel towards their owners. Even in death, there have been numerous stories that have told of the intense connections that still linger.
One of the most remarkable stories of this nature was made into a movie. The events took place in Japan from 1923-1935. Hatchi was an Akita that was rescued by a loving couple. The male owner wasn’t instantly smitten with him, but soon their relationship blossomed.
Hatchi walked with his owner every day to the train station to make sure he got to work safely. Every evening at 5:00 pm, he returned to walk home with him. When his owner passed away due to a heart attack, the dog still went to the station trying to find his friend.
Hatchi sunk into a depression, for he couldn’t find his owner. For nine long years, that Akita waited every day at the Shibuya Station for his owner to return.
He died waiting for him. The loyalty that a dog feels for their family is extraordinary and unwavering.
LIVING IN CANINE BLISS
The health benefits of owning a dog go without saying. However, far exceeding the health gains is the psychological advantages that these pets have on a human being.
They can protect you from harm in your home, give you a warm body to lay next to at night, and make those lonely days seem more manageable. More than anything else is the unbelievable connection that a dog and their master develops.
They will protect them, walk beside them through the darkest days of life, and never, ever change their feelings. Perhaps, having a canine shouldn’t be an option, but a requirement in every home for their benefits are undeniable.
Article Written by Cory Eckert
Cory is the co-creator of GoldenRetrieverLove.com and a life long dog enthusiast. From training livestock dogs as a child to working with obedience classes as an adult, it's hard to imagine Cory without a dog. Currently enjoying being a dog parent to Remi (a chocolate lab) and Annie (a golden retriever).