There are so many health benefits that come alongside having a dog as a companion. Whether it’s the popular Poodle, or the less well known Silver Labrador, all dogs provide benefits such as encouraging more exercise and therefore having better heart health. They can even help people with mental health problems, and bring many benefits to children, what’s not to love? Here are seven health benefits of having a furry four-legged friend in your home.
Benefit 1: Dogs Keep You Active
The minimum recommended exercise per week for us humans is 150 minutes, which is the same as just over 20 minutes per day. Having a dog will force you to get out and have that exercise as there is another life depending on you. If someone is disabled to the extent that they aren’t able to exercise, it will be even important for their wellbeing to get out of the house and socialize and not feel isolated.
Benefit 2: Dogs Increase Your Heart Health
So it follows that with this extra exercise that you’ll get while out walking you dog, that your heart health will improve. Research conducted by St Anne’s University Hospital Brno, found that owning a dog can help to maintain cardiovascular health and improve owner’s blood pressure. Another study carried out by Sweden’s Uppsala University found that there was a 33% reduced risk of death from a heart attack if the patient owned a dog.
Benefit 3: Dogs Improve Mental Health
There are many studies which have been carried out into the effects that dogs have on mental health. A study carried out by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute found that 74% of pet owners said that having a pet helped to improve their mental health. Having a dog can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, and promote physical and mental wellbeing.
Benefit 4: Having a Dog is linked to having a Longer Life
As you would expect, from being more active and having a better heart health, those who own dogs often live longer lives. In fact a study which had more than 3.4 million participants, found a link between dog ownership and lifespan. People who lived alone, but with a dog had a 33% reduced risk of death than those people who simply lived alone.
Benefit 5: Dogs Reduce Stress Levels
Many people don’t need to be told the studies and figures behind how their dog makes them feel. Sitting down and simply stroking your dog can calm you down and reduce stress levels. A study carried out by Washington State University confirmed what most pet owners already know, that having hands-on interaction with a cat or dog for just ten minutes found that cortisol (a stress hormone) levels were reduced after this interaction.
Benefit 6: Dogs make us laugh
Dogs are always getting into mischief and making their owners laugh, which is excellent because laughter is one of the most powerful medicines. Laughing has many short term and long term benefits. Laughter stimulates the heart, lungs and muscles and helps to relieve the stress response. In the long run, laughing can also help to improve the immune system and relieve pain!
Benefit 7: Dogs Reduce Childhood Asthma
Having a dog in the household alongside children can reduce their risk of asthma, found a Swedish study. The study found that children who grow up with a dog, has a 15% less chance of developing asthma than those who don’t have a dog.
Lastly… One Health Risk
While there are so many benefits that come alongside keeping a dog, there are also a few risks to bear in mind. One of these risks is that there is an increased risk of being exposed to salmonella in a household where a dog lives. Dry dog food can carry salmonella, so it’s really important to wash hands thoroughly after feeding your dog, and keeping any surfaces clean which dog food has been in contact with.