At some point you have probably heard a friend, coworker or family member talk about the benefits of owning a dog. Aside from being cute, oftentimes funny or charming, owning a pet can be a wonderful experience. But aside from the niceties it can also have profound positive implications for your life. In this post, we’ll cover some of the health benefits of owning a dog.
Owning a Dog Might Help You Live Longer
Research done at Uppsala University in Sweden found that those living with dogs experienced a lower risk of death than their counterparts who did not own pets. The findings suggest that those living with dogs experienced decreased risk for heart-related conditions. And, what is most fascinating is that the results were found across different body types and sizes, socioeconomic statuses and whether people smoked or not. Generally, one can assume given the results that those with dogs might also be generally more active people or that the simple act of properly caring for a dog can lead to profound health benefits. Additionally, it has also been demonstrated that early exposure to pets, such as dogs, can have positive effects on allergy and asthma symptoms in children.
Owning a Dog and Change Your Daily Social Experience
Dogs make great companions. They are known as “man’s best friend” for a reason, after all. What that old phrase doesn’t reflect is that owning a dog can also help you broaden your social network. Take one walk with a dog and see what happens! It’s not uncommon for you to encounter other dog owners and other passersby out on daily walks with your pup.
Due to a dog needing to relieve themselves regularly, you may often go out for walks at a similar time daily. As a result, you may find yourself seeing the same dog owners over and over again. This presents a great opportunity for light social chat as your dogs greet one another. These moments also present an opportunity to schedule play dates at your homes, the park or other spaces which can give you more opportunities to engage with other people around you. This can be especially helpful for those who live with social anxiety, agoraphobia or other depressive conditions that often make getting out of your home difficult.
Dogs offer Unconditional Love
For those of us who have experienced troubled relationships, bonding with a pet can be a powerful and healing experience. Dogs offer unconditional love. This kind of companionship doesn’t require you to think or act appropriately. If you’re there and participating in the relationship, so is your pup! He or she will greet you with excitement when you return home, and if your dog turns out to be anything like mine, they probably won’t let you out of their sight because they always want to be close to you.
Dogs Change Your Body Chemistry & Reduce Stress
One of the greatest benefits of dog companionship is that just by being in the same space as a dog, they can alter your body chemistry and reduce stress levels. It’s been well-established that engaging with a dog can lower blood pressure, heart rate and increase your body’s production of “feel good” hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, petting a dog can boost levels of oxytocin, which is commonly thought as the bonding or “love” hormone.
As you can see, there are a lot of health benefits of owning a dog. Whether it’s just for you own enjoyment or also a part of your therapy experience, interacting with a dog regularly can boost your mood and leave you healthier and less stressed.
If you’re in the market for a pet, we at Viva Wellness highly suggest adopting as there are many animals that need good homes and would love to be a part of your loving family. If you’re not ready yet to adopt, one way to gain some of these benefits is to volunteer at a local pet shelter.
Jor-El is Co-founder of Viva Wellness and a foodie and film buff. He most often writes about mental health, relationships, food and mindfulness. When he’s not busy working, he typically can be found lounging or walking around NYC with his pup Nomi.