The Health Benefits of Owning a Dog

Having a pet provides wonderful health benefits! They lift our mood, provide companionship, and improve socialization. Dogs in particular, have been shown to help children and adults to be more fit both mentally and physically. Dog owners enjoy reduced stress, anxiety, and loneliness. The stress relief from petting a dog lowers blood pressure. Dog owners also tend to see the doctor less frequently and have healthier hearts. A statement from the American Heart Association reveals that pet ownership, especially dog ownership, may be a reasonable way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Exercise reduces the risk of many health conditions, and dog owners have been shown to exercise more, because they generally take their dogs for walks. A June 2017 study in the British Journal BMC Public Health revealed that older adults who were dog owners completed 22 minutes more of moderately paced walking per day than those without dogs. They also sat less and took 2,760 additional steps per day than non-dog owners. The extra walking helps people meet the World Health Organization’s 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous weekly exercise recommendations. The boost in physical health benefits from walking a dog in combination with the mood enhancement that comes with owning a friendly dog buddy is pretty amazing.

“It’s very difficult to find any other intervention that produces this size of effect,” said senior author Dr. Daniel Simon Mills, a professor of veterinary behavioral medicine at the University of Lincoln in England.

This is just one study of many that show the benefits of dog ownership and the important role that pets have in the lives of their human companions. The bond impacts our lives in so many ways, including physically, mentally and socially.