5 Ways Having a Dog Can Improve Your Health
By Holly Thorsted
Have you ever noticed that you feel better when you are around your pet? Well it’s true. When you come home to a wagging tail at the end of a long day and feel that sudden wave of tranquility, it isn’t just your imagination. Dog lovers know how warm and loved these fluffy companions make us feel, but they might not be aware of how owning one actually improves your health.
Having a dog can help your heart… literally
Your dog may make you less likely to get heart disease. Why? Research found that pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. In 2013, the American Heart Association revealed that owning a pet was associated with fewer heart disease risk factors and increased survival among patients. Dog owners tend to walk more than people without dogs, and ultimately, these daily walks boost fitness and help to regulate your cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and lower triglyceride levels.
It only takes a few minutes of petting your dog that makes you feel instantly calmer. Dogs’ calming effect on humans lowers stress levels, even by simply being in the same room as them. Evidence suggests that people with dogs experience less cardiovascular reactivity during times of stress, meaning that their heart rate and blood pressure levels go up less and return to normal more quickly, reducing the effects of stress on the body. The unconditional love dog’s offer makes you feel important, accepted, and gives you a sense of peace.
Dogs provide unconditional love and support for their owners, who tend to have better overall wellbeing than those who don’t have a fluffy companion. A study done by the British Psychological Society found that the calming presence of your dog lowers stress levels, boosts self-worth, and promotes feelings of competence and autonomy. Dog’s are completely judge-free, they don’t care what you look like or how you act, they love unconditionally, which can boost self-esteem and improve confidence.
As we grow older, it can be difficult to find structure and purpose day in and day out, but having a dog helps prevent loneliness and isolation. Owning a dog is a responsibility that forces you to get out of bed in the morning and focus on needs besides your own. The social bond and support that pets bring gives you something to focus on instead of any negative thoughts that provoke depression.
Better quality of life
Improving your quality of life is an understatement for the value that these loving creatures can hold in your heart. People with dogs are generally happier and healthier, less stressed and lonely, experience more meaning and purpose, along with countless other qualities. Research suggests that your furry friend is truly good for your mental and physical health by providing unconditional acceptance and love, and relentless support. As far as physical health goes, having a dog lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure, boosts fitness, reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease, and improves relationships, therefore leading to a longer and happier quality of life.
We’ve heard the phrase “Who rescued who?” and its definitely something to consider. Having a dog gives you a sense of belonging and meaning, thus gives you a greater sense of control of your life. If you own a dog or are considering it, the physical and mental health benefits are endless. While it’s true that having a dog can offer a value to you that is priceless, they are a lifetime responsibility that you have to be willing to commit to. These loyal companions require a lot of your time and effort in order for them to be happy and healthy too- but they’re worth every bit of it!