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14 Health Benefits of Having a Dog
Updated on January 31, 2024
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14 Health Benefits of Having a Dog
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Pet ownership is not a decision to be taken lightly, as it comes with several responsibilities. However, considering the countless joys and health benefits of having a furry friend, it might be worthwhile.

From providing companionship to improving physical and mental well-being, there are numerous reasons why owning a dog is something you should consider.

Not only are they cute, but they make wonderful companions who are sure to teach you all about love and responsibility.

14 Health Benefits of Having a Dog 2

Brief History of Dogs as Pets

Dogs have been living alongside humans for thousands of years. 

It's believed that they were first domesticated from wolves up to 15,000 years ago, with evidence of this process in ancient burial sites.1

Studies have found that humans and dogs have lived together since Paleolithic times---and the relationship only continues to deepen today.1

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Mental Health Benefits of Having a Dog

Owning a canine companion can provide countless mental health benefits. Here's how furry friends can make all the difference:

  1. Improved mood – Having a dog around can improve your mood. Petting and interacting with them has been found to release dopamine and serotonin, the “happy hormone,” in a dog owner.
  1. Reduced stress and anxiety – Spending time with a loving companion such as a dog can reduce stress and anxiety levels, as it provides an outlet for negative emotions. This, in turn, helps lower blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease.
  1. Improved self-esteem – Having a loyal companion around can work wonders for self-esteem, as dogs are known to build strong bonds with their owners. Caring for dogs helps you feel more in control of your life and better about yourself. 
  1. Increased social interactions – They will often be the focus of conversation when out and about and encourage you to socialize more with others.
  1. Improved ability to cope with loneliness – Having a loving companion that depends on you can reconnect you to the world and make life more meaningful.
  1. Lower risk of developing depression – Studies have found that the companionship of a furry friend can lower the risk of developing depression.3
  1. Improved cognitive function – Spending time with your dog can stimulate your brain and improve cognitive function, as it has been shown to promote creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.4

Physical Health Benefits of Having a Dog

Your physical well-being can be significantly enhanced by owning a furry friend. Here are some of the ways that having a canine companion could improve your health:

  1. Increased exercise – Owning a dog encourages you to stay active and exercise regularly. Dogs must be taken on walks or runs and played with multiple times daily.
  1. Improved cardiovascular health – Taking your dog for regular walks can reduce risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure.
  1. Boosted immunity – Spending time with your canine companion can boost your immune system.5 Their bacteria help build up the natural defenses of humans by exposing them to stronger and more diverse microorganisms. If this happens, your body can do a better job of defending itself from illnesses.
  1. Lower risk of allergies and asthma – Early exposure to dogs has been found to lower the risk of developing allergies and asthma in children.5 This is because dogs can introduce pet dander and bacteria from the outdoors, which strengthens the immune system. 
  1. Reduced risk of heart attack – Studies have found that owning a dog has been linked to lower stress levels.6 This is because stress levels can be reduced by having a loving and loyal companion that nurtures us. This lowers the risk of developing heart disease.
  1. Strengthened connections – Owning a pet can help strengthen connections with family members. Caring for them can bring people closer together since caring for an animal requires teamwork and communication. 

Healthy Lifestyle Changes Dogs Influence

Having a canine companion can influence your health and lifestyle in many positive ways. Here are four of the most beneficial changes that owning a dog could bring:

  • Increasing exercise - Dogs need to be taken on regular walks and outings, encouraging dog owners to get up and move around more.
  • Improved sleep quality - Having a canine companion can help improve sleep quality. Their presence helps reduce stress and anxiety by providing a sense of security and comfort.
  • Improved diet - Dogs require daily meals, encouraging owners to plan regular and balanced meals for both their pet and for themselves. Since the pet owner is already mindful of their dog's eating habits, it's an opportunity for them to do the same for themselves.

Dogs as Service Animals

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners. Aside from the physical health benefits, they are good for a person’s psychological well-being.

A service dog can provide essential support in various ways. Here are some services they can perform:

  • Emotional support dogs – The human-animal bond is extraordinary. Service dogs provide comfort and support to individuals with disabilities, such as depression or anxiety, by providing unconditional love and companionship. Emotional support dogs are trained to recognize signs of distress and provide comfort in situations that may be otherwise overwhelming. 
  • Guide dogs – They can help guide their visually impaired owners to and from desired locations, alert them of obstacles in their path, and assist with other tasks.
  • Hearing dogs - They are trained to alert owners to important sounds, such as alarm clocks, doorbells, and smoke alarms. This can help hearing-impaired individuals lead more independent lives.
  • Therapy dogs – Therapy dogs differ from emotional support dogs in such a way that therapy dogs are specially trained to work with individuals in various settings. They can provide comfort and support for those who may be dealing with trauma, illness, or grief. Therapy dogs are often used in nursing homes and hospitals to help patients recover emotionally and physically.
  • Seizure alert dogs – They reduce the severity of seizures by alerting the owner before any seizure begins. Seizure-alert dogs help by providing physical support to people who suffer from convulsions. They can also alert caregivers or medical personnel and provide comfort during recovery.

How to Find the Perfect Dog for You

Looking for your ideal furry friend doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some tips that might help get your search underway:

  1. Research different dog breeds - Consider factors such as size, energy levels, and temperament to ensure you select a breed that is right for you.
  1. Match your energy levels - An active and energetic breed might not be the best choice if you are a busy professional who works long hours.
  1. Consider the cost - From buying food and toys to taking your dog to the vet, these are all factors you must consider when selecting a breed.
  1. Consider the space you have - If you live in a small apartment or house, look for a smaller breed more suited to a confined space.
  2. Visit the shelter - Meet a variety of dogs and get an idea of which one you feel most comfortable with. This is also a great way to adopt a rescue animal and give them a loving home.

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Updated on January 31, 2024
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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