These Are the Best Health Reasons to Own a Dog
Imagine owning something that can help reduce stress, increase happiness, and help you lose weight. Luckily, you don’t have to use your imagination. Dogs help improve many aspects of a person’s overall health. Stress, happiness, and weight are only three parts of life a dog can help improve. If you’re considering adding a four-legged friend to your family, read all the ways a dog can make you happier and healthier.
To minimize allergies
If you have infants or toddlers in your home, consider getting a dog. At least that’s what research says. Pediatrician James E. Gern conducted studies that “demonstrate having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent,” says an excerpt on the study according to Animal Planet.
To build a stronger immune system
Gern’s research, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, according to Animal Planet, “shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.” Another study conducted at the University of Arizona had similar findings. Dr. Charles Raison, the principal investigator for the study explained the how dogs strengthen our immunity in a statement. “We think dogs might work as probiotics to enhance the health of the bacteria that live in our guts. These bacteria, or ‘microbiota,’ are increasingly recognized as playing an essential role in our mental and physical health, especially as we age,” Raison said in the statement.
To help you make new friends
Any puppy owner knows this to be true. Going on a walk with your puppy becomes a parade of passersby fawning over your new dog. Questions about the breed and name quickly follow. It’s no surprise owning a dog helps people make new friends. Animal Planet suggests dog owners take their pups to training classes, dog parks, or outdoor cafes to meet other dog owners.
To make you more social and less isolated
Harvard Medical School published a special report about the health benefits of owning a dog. The special report includes making someone feel less isolated as a benefit. A good example of decreasing isolation was demonstrated in The Atlantic. A car accident made former firefighter, Paul Knott, a quadriplegic. He described to the publication why he thinks owning a dog helps get you out of the house. “Think about it: If you had something with you that made everybody smile, wouldn’t you want to get out more and do more?”
To improve heart health
According to Animal Planet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health have both conducted studies about heart health as it relates to dogs. “The findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels,” Animal Planet says. However, Harvard Medical School points out that dogs make an excellent addition to a larger plan to improve heart health. If you’ve experienced a heart attack, your dog may help you recover faster. “Research also indicates that patients with a dog or a cat tend to have better recovery rates,” Animal Planet says.
To be more active
The New York Times discussed how dog owners are more active as opposed to those who don’t own a dog. The blog post cited a 2008 Australian study which confirmed dog owners are more active. “Getting a dog increased average walking by about 30 minutes a week, compared with those who didn’t own dogs,” the post said about the study. According to Animal Planet, a study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that, “dog owners responsible for walking their pups are less likely to be obese than dog owners who pass the duty off to someone else or those who don’t own dogs at all.”
To be happier
Dogs showering their owners with love and attention no doubt makes dog owners happier. Animal Planet says pets, “combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship,” to their owners. Psychology Today referenced a study of adults and how happy their pets made them. The study showed dog owners were happier than those who owned cats.
To be more mindful and present in your life
Harvard Medical School’s special report included being more present in your life as a benefit of owning a dog. The report suggests taking your dog’s lead when it comes to living in the moment. Act like your dog on a walk. Be curious about your surroundings and appreciate the moment. “By learning to focus on the here and now, you may find yourself less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past (emotions your dog never feels),” the report says.
To make kids more responsible
Harvard Medical School believes dogs benefit kids as well as adults, according to the school’s special report. A lot goes into caring for a dog. Kids can learn how much work is associated with owning a dog. They learn responsibility by making sure the dog is fed, has water, and is let out to go to the bathroom.
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