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There’s a reason that dogs are the most popular pet in America. Beyond their loyalty, companionship, and affectionate nature, dogs have also been shown to offer health benefits to their owners. From reducing stress levels to helping improve physical fitness, owning a dog can actually be a game-changer for your overall well-being. Aside from the fact that they’re devoted to us, here are some of the health benefits of having a dog.
Increased Physical Fitness
One of the most obvious benefits of owning a dog is the increase in physical activity. Dogs require regular exercise, such as daily walks or playtime in the yard. Even taking walks with your dog a few times a week can lead to improved cardiovascular health, weight management, and increased stamina. Your dog may be the one looking forward to walks, but getting your steps in together is also a great way to support your physical health.
Walking may feel like a simple part of your dog’s routine, but it actually has many perks. Your dog may be jumping for joy when they see you with the leash, but while you’re on your walk, you’re also walking for your own health. Getting exercise, boosting your immune system, and easing joint pain are just a few of the benefits of walking that studies have found. These routine, daily walks with your dog are great ways to motivate you to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Heart health is something that everyone should consider, as cardiovascular diseases affect nearly half of all adults in the United States. Making sure that you’re taking care of your heart is essential to your well-being, and dogs can help with that.
The Cleveland HeartLab found that dog owners overall have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High levels are the most prominent risk factors for heart issues like heart disease. Simply by having a dog, you’re encouraged to exercise more, which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease. Whether it’s walking, playing, or engaging in dog sports, such physical activities greatly benefit heart health.
The companionship, loyalty, and love that dogs offer can reduce feelings of loneliness and social isolation, which are additional factors that contribute to heart health. An AHA Journal meta-analysis finds that these factors combined with increased physical health help dog owners experience a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Animals have long been known to help lower your levels of stress. The National Institute of Health writes that interacting with animals reduces stress hormones. Being around dogs can boost your mood, decrease loneliness, and lower your blood pressure. Life is stressful, so spending time with a dog that can scientifically help release mood-boosting hormones is a great way to help. Johns Hopkins Medicine even writes that even petting a dog lowers your stress levels. Just the presence of your dog can provide emotional support, helping individuals cope with difficult situations and enhancing their overall mental well-being.
Mental Health Benefits
Along with physical benefits, dogs can also be a valuable asset for mental health. The emotional bond between humans and dogs is well-documented, and this connection can be especially beneficial for people dealing with mental health issues. Dogs offer non-judgmental companionship, unconditional love, and a sense of purpose. All of these and more can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and tress-related disorders. Additionally, the responsibility of caring for a dog can provide a sense of routine and structure, which is particularly helpful for those struggling with mental health challenges.
There’s a reason that the most well-known kind of emotional support animals are dogs. The National Alliance of Mental Illness notes that dogs can help with overall mood and depression, and provide comfort to people. Dogs are also prime choices for therapy and PTSD, often paired with combat veterans or survivors of trauma.
Increased Social Interaction
Dogs are drawn to other dogs, which means their dog owners are coming along, too! Having your dog with you in a public place or even going for a walk in your neighborhood is a great conversation starter. Dogs can act as social magnets, encouraging their owners to engage with others in their community. Having a dog means you’ll be socializing more, even if you don’t realize it. Walking your dog in the park or attending dog-related events can create opportunities to meet new people who share a love for dogs.
If you live alone or work remotely, getting outside with your dog and seeing other people can be even more important. This sense of community and companionship can be incredibly beneficial for mental health, fostering a sense of belonging and reducing feelings of loneliness. You may even start going on walks with your neighbors or meeting new dog friends in the park!
Owning a dog is more than just sharing your life with your pet, it’s a journey of holistic health and wellbeing. You’ll find that the love and joy a dog brings into your life are well worth the effort, and your health will thank you for it.
To make sure that your dog also lives their happiest, healthiest life along with you, consider enrolling your pup in daycare at Dogtopia, where they can benefit from consistent socialization, exercise, and education. To find a Dogtopia location near you and learn more about the benefits of daycare, visit dogtopia.com/locations.