The Health Benefits of Dog Ownership

Take two dogs and call me in the morning.

Owning a dog is great not just because you have an extra family member who adores you when you are unbearable, but did you know that there are numerous health benefits associated with dog ownership as well.

1. Dogs Boost Your Mood

Dogs have long been known to make great companions, why else would they be known as ‘man’s best friend’, but did you know that they improve your mood? Research shows that just 15–30 minutes with your pet will make you feel more relaxed and calm. Playing with your dog raises the brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and tranquility. Psychologists from Miami and St. Louis Universities found the benefits of canine companionship can be equivalent to having a human companion. Looks like pooches can get your tail wagging!

2. Dogs Are Better Than Medicine

More than just boosting your mood, a dog is also great for your health. Dog owners have been found to have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, and according to a study by the British Journal of Health (2004), dog owners also have the have fewer medical problems than those without pets.

3. Dogs help you stay active

Running is one of the best calorie burners out there and it’s shown to improve self-esteem. If you do it together with your dog, it is even more fun. Playing fetch with Spot not only keeps him moving, but you too. As an added bonus, time spent outside lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as blood pressure.

4. Dogs Help You Be More Social

Doing activities with your dog, such as going to pet stores, playing at dog parks, or dog-friendly events, are a great way for you, and your furry friend, to meet new people.  A study by Britain’s Warwick University found that 40% of people reported making friends much easier as a result of owning a dog. Imagine how easy it is to strike up a conversation with a pretty woman or a handsome man when your dogs are already froliking in the park. Want to double down on that? Just get a puppy and see how quickly people want to talk with you.

5. Dogs Can Help Kids Grow Stronger

Dog ownership not only helps you lead a healthier life but also your children’s.  According to Science Daily, kids growing up in homes with dogs have fewer allergies* and are less likely to have eczema. Children with dogs in the home have fewer sick days and grow up with higher levels of certain immune system supporters, keeping them in tip-top shape as they get older. Contrary to some opinions, dogs can actually help contribute to keeping your child healthy just by making them part of the family!

 

While FirstMed won’t be writing any prescriptions for patients to get a labrador, retriever, pug, or even mixed bred anytime in the near future, we do understand and appreciate the proven health benefits from dog ownership. Of course this does not mean just keeping a dog locked up outside but as a social member of the family! Do it for yourself and your family’s health.