The companionship of a dog has an abundance of benefits and dogs bring unconditional love into our lives. In addition to the joy that comes with dog ownership, the unexpected gift is that they also contribute to a healthier and a happier life for us.
Dogs improve both your physical as well as your mental health. The physical benefits are not only from the perspective of added exercise, but additional perks as well.
Better Health Vitals
Owning a dog helps reduce stress and tension resulting in lower blood pressure and contributes to overall heart health. Relaxing next to your dog causes certain brain chemicals to increase and those changes contribute to calm and well-being.
In 2017, a Swedish study helped fuel the fire on the excellent health benefits of owning a dog and many top-rated news sources posted their findings. The CDC also has several articles that point out the myriad of advantages from having pets in a household.
Dogs need to be walked for their health and it is valuable for our health as well. A stroll with a dog twice daily a day for just 15 minutes adds up to hours of walking per week. That’s about 1,500 steps every 15 minutes, putting 3,000 additional steps into your day. Stretch that stroll to 30 minutes and you are close to the recommended 6,000 steps per day because of your dog.
Dogs have sensitive noses and taking them outside on a daily basis increases their exposure to the variety of outdoor smells making it a more interesting experience to their day. The fresh air is important to our health and wellness too. A 2010 Harvard study supports the benefits of outdoor air as an added value to our life.
Depression and loneliness are a growing problem in today’s digital age. Introverts and those who are isolated from regular human interaction benefit from the companionship of a dog.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Daily interaction with your dog can help reduce stress, anxiety and even depression. In a University of Missouri study scientists documented that when we pet our dogs there is an increase in serotonin, the neurotransmitter prescribed antidepressants try to elevate.
Pet-assisted therapies are commonly used to help troubled children, people with autism, drug addiction, cancer patients, long-term care patients and those affected with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dogs help normalize our brain chemistry.
A dog increases the opportunities of socialization on the part of the owner. Chance encounters with neighbors, chatting with others at a dog park, meeting people at a training school, or joining a league for competition, all contribute to more interaction with people. Whether you own a high energy or low maintenance breed, there are fun UKC and AKC competitions such as Obedience, Agility, Water, Frisbee, and Flyball, just to name a few. Whatever activity you like to do with your dog, more than likely it improves your chances of connecting with other people and that is a good thing.
If you don’t already have a dog in your life today, consider the rewards and investigate what breed might fit into your lifestyle. There are dogs in shelters, rescue agencies, and available through breeders so there is no lack of resources in finding the perfect dog to fit your family. Think it over and start planning your healthier and happier life.