The Health Benefits of Owning a Dog
A number of different studies done by medical professionals have come to the conclusion that owning a pet improves the owner's health in many ways.
A dog tops the list because of its love of exercise and the unquestioning devotion that it gives you.
A companion that loves walking and running can inspire you to do the same. Almost all dog owners get more exercise than they would otherwise. This comes from running with the dog, walking on the beach and throwing a stick (over and over).
There are many other factors that aren't so obvious. These include physical, emotional and mental well-being factors. Here are some of them.
Better Heart Health
Dogs don’t just fill your heart; they actually make it stronger. Studies show that having a canine companion is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health and fewer heart attacks.
Hugging and stroking a pet has long been known to reduce blood pressure. A study from the New York State University found that these benefits continue even without the pet available. The study tested a group of stockbrokers with hypertension. They concluded that just being a pet-owner can lower blood pressure on a permanent basis.
Dog owners have been proven to have blood pressure and cholesterol lower than other people. These factors reduce the chance for cardiovascular diseases.
What’s more, dog owners who do have heart attacks have better survival rates following the event. A total win-win all round.
Fewer Doctor Visits
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology established that animal-owning seniors on Medicare “reported fewer doctor contacts over the 1-year period than respondents who did not own pets.”
And while cats, birds, and other animals were helpful, “Owners of dogs, in particular, were insulated from the impact of stressful life events on physician utilization.” (Researcher-speak for "they didn't go the doctor without a good reason.") Studies conducted at Cambridge and UCLA have found that owning a pet corresponds to overall improved health and less need for hospital visits.
A Medicare study of its elderly patients also discovered that those who own dogs visit the doctor less than those who don’t have a pet.
If you’re over 65 and own a pet, odds are you seek medical help about 30 percent less often than people who don’t have a pet.
Post Operation Pet Therapy
Hospital studies have found that seniors and recently operated on patients responded better to treatment and got better quickly while they were in contact with dogs and other therapy animals. Just petting a dog can be relaxing and therapeutic for recovering patients.
Also, dog owners have a greater chance to survive after suffering from a serious illness. Several studies have discovered that pet owners who suffered from a heart attack were more likely to be alive a year after they were discharged from the hospital than those who did not own pets. Another New York study found that pets affected their survival rate even more than the presence or company of family members or friends.
Hitting Your Exercise Goals
How much exercise do you get?
And what are your exercise goals?
Health experts recommend that adults get about 2 hours and 30 minutes worth of moderate exercise per week.
Dog owners are way more likely to hit that goal. “People love to be outside to walk their dog, and be with their dog,” says Kay Joubert, Director Companion Animal Services at PAWS, a Washington-based animal advocacy organization. “It certainly helps them to be more active.”
In turn, that activity helps us remain mobile into our 70s and 80s. Earlier this year, a study in the journal Gerontologist found that older adults who walked dogs experienced “lower body mass index, fewer activities of daily living limitations, fewer doctor visits, and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise.”
Lose Weight with Your Dog
Obesity has become the number 1 concern of almost every Western society.
Dog owners have the most enjoyable way possible to help them lose weight.
Want to drop a few pounds? Grab Fido and get hoofing.
Research has repeatedly found that daily dog walks help you lose weight, since they force you to into moderate physical activity for 10, 20, and even 30 minutes at a time.
In fact, in 2010, one small study discovered public housing residents who walked “loaner” dogs five times a week lost an average of 14.4 pounds over the course of a year. The best part: Participants considered it a responsibility to the dog, rather than exercise. (”They need us to walk them.”)