Dogs are fun to have around, but the benefits of dog ownership are more than just pure enjoyment. The more we research the connection between dogs and people, the more we find out about just how much dogs contribute to our physical and mental health. Here are 10 ways dogs keep us healthy.
Dog owners are 34% more likely to get the exercise they need compared to non-dog owners. And my husband and I are no exception. Our dog makes us get out of bed half an hour earlier for a quick jog around the block, and keeps us active on weekends.
Keep the Doctor Away
Children raised in homes with dogs the first year of life are less likely to have allergies and asthma, according to a study published in Pediatrics. These kids also seem to be more resistant to upper respiratory infection like the common cold.
Sniff it Out
We always knew dog noses were powerful, but now those noses are saving lives. Dogs are being trained to sniff out bladder cancer in a urine sample, or to alert their diabetic owner to a drop in blood sugar.
Protect and Serve
Trained therapy dogs can see for us, open doors and retrieve household objects, and can even sense seizures in people with epilepsy. They help many people maintain their independence and peace of mind.
Our dog is especially good at making us laugh. When we bond with our pets, serotonin and dopamine are released, making us feel happy!
You've Got a Friend
Dogs are our friends and companions through all of life's valleys. Caring for another creature makes you feel purposeful and valued. Dogs can stave off loneliness and depression until you find your feet again.
Tell Me About It!
Sometimes we respond better to our dogs than we do to other people. Some counselors and psychiatrists are starting to bring dogs into therapy sessions. Dogs can help diffuse tension and make people feel safe and better able to express themselves.
My coworker swears that spending time with her dogs is better than a massage for stress relief. While I personally might not go that far, it is true that spending just 15 to 30 minutes with a pet can lower your levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.
Out on The Town
The local dog park is just as much a meeting place for people as it is for my dogs. Feeling a bit lonely and isolated? Just take a walk around the block, and see how many of your neighbors stop to chat!
Think About It
We let our brains relax when we don't have to use them, but keeping a dog happy and healthy means we have to be organized and creative. From training to remembering vet visits, owning a dog requires responsibility that can help us humans sharpen our wits.