Recently, a friend asked me if having a dog can improve your health.
I told her, “of course it can!”
But then I got to thinking about how??? How can a dog improve your health?
I mean, I KNOW they can, but what exactly can they do?
So… I did what I do — and I started to research it.
And as always, my research becomes your research!!
Before I dig in though, think about how you feel about your dog. You probably call your dog your baby or at least tell people he’s part of the family.
If you’ve ever had to experience losing a dog, you know it hurts as much as losing anyone else in your life.
Human beings need these family connections for a healthy life. And dogs are as much a part of this family as anyone else.
Dogs bring unconditional love to our lives. That alone is a HUGE health benefit. But I found more.
In fact, I found out that besides the emotional benefits, there are also mental and physical benefits to dog companionship.
Here’s what I found.O
1. Can Dogs Improve Our Mental Health?
Study after study shows that pets improve our mental health. Even before this research came out, doctors used to bring dogs and cats into psychiatric wards to help calm the patients. The animal companions also helped the patients cooperate with their medical care. The studies confirm what we’ve known instinctively for decades or longer… pets can drastically improve our moods.
Think about a time you’ve felt blue or just a bit down in the dumps. Then, your dog brings you his ball and wants to play. You can’t help but smile at their enthusiasm and suddenly you start to feel better.
This is a perfect example of how your dog can cause your mood to automatically shift out of its slump.
Your dog’s unconditional love causes your brain to release feel-good hormones. The feel-good hormones lift your mood because they lower hormones related to stress.
And it’s hard to feel stressed out while you’re playing with your dog.
2. Do Dogs Improve Your Emotional State?
Has your dog ever seen you crying and come over to lick away your tears? There are several studies out there that show that dogs are practically empathic when it comes to humans. They innately know what we’re feeling. Scientists think it’s because humans and dogs have been friends for so many thousands of years that they’ve practically evolved side-by-side.
Whatever the reason, it’s easy to see how easily a dog can improve your emotional state. In fact, study after study shows that pet owners are happier than people who do not have pets.
As a dog lover, I completely get why!
3. Can Dogs Improve your Physical Health
Did you know that not only are dog owners happier than people without pets, but they tend to be healthier, too?? According to research, dog owners have a lower chance of heart disease and blood pressure. Their risk of cancer and high cholesterol are lower, too!
Pets, in general, are also helpful for guardians with certain health issues as alert animals and support. Dogs, in particular, are extremely skilled at detecting changes in their owner’s health. It’s common for dogs to be trained as alert dogs for people with seizure disorders and diabetes.
So, owning a dog can literally save your life!
4. Can Dogs Improve Your Socialization?
We know that humans need socialization to be healthy. Studies show that dogs (and other pets) help people to avoid isolation. Dog guardians are less likely to suffer from long bouts of depression, cope with anxiety better, and are able to fight back against panic more easily.
Since dogs need to socialize they also help their people to get out and about. People who don’t leave the house much have a higher chance of falling prey to anxiety, panic disorders, depression, etcetera. Having a dog means you have to leave the house to take it for a walk at least once or twice a day.
You get fresh air, run into other people, and spend quality time with your pet. It’s a complete win-win for your health.
You can even use this time out with your pet for exercises like walking, jogging, or hiking… and really up the benefits of dog ownership!
5. Do Dogs Improve Your Spiritual Health?
Ok, this one may seem a bit woo-woo to some people. But there is no denying that your love for your dog touches your very soul.
Plus, research shows that acts of kindness and other things considered spiritual help your overall mental and physical health. And reaching out to help someone else doesn’t always have to mean another person.
Playing with your dog, caring for him, or just cuddling with them on a rainy day are all ways to connect spiritually. There is nothing more spiritual than helping a less able creature to not only survive but to thrive.
So, there you have it.
Five ways that having a dog can improve your health. As dog lovers, I’m sure you can all agree how much better our lives are with them in them. And having research to back up our pup-obsessions is icing on the cake!
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