As a dog owner, you know how beautiful it can be to have a dog around the house. When you get home, he’s there to greet you, wagging his tail and maybe barking a little bit to let you know how glad he is to see you. While you know how great it is to have a pet, you might not realize just how beneficial it can be to your overall health. While research into the area of the beneficial aspects of bonding with your pet is relatively new, a growing body of solid scientific evidence shows that being a dog owner can help you in a lot of different ways.
Here are just a few of them:
Lowering Blood Pressure
Studies show that your four-legged friend could help lower your blood pressure, reducing your chances of developing cardiovascular problems. One study, which involved nearly 1,600 people 60 years of age and older who had a pet, showed that their blood pressure was substantially lower than people in the same age group who didn’t have a pet. Even a small reduction in blood pressure can greatly lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.1
The American Heart Association announced that having a pet could lower the risk of heart disease, citing research announced at a meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Researchers divided a group of 30 patients with high blood pressure into two groups. One group had recently adopted a dog, while the other group had decided not to adopt at that particular time.
The two groups participated in follow-up studies at two- and five-month intervals. The group that had adopted a dog saw substantially lower blood pressure than those who had not. By the time the study ended, all 30 patients had adopted a new pet – and all of them had significantly reduced blood pressure levels.2
Another study involved a group of about 50 stockbrokers with hypertension, or high blood pressure. The ones who had a dog or cat saw less of an increase in blood pressure compared to the ones who did not. The pet owners in the group also had a lower heart rate.3
Yet another study showed a positive relationship between blood pressure and being a dog owner. This involved more than 5,700 people who attended a free blood pressure screening clinic in Australia. The pet owners had readings that were, on average, 3 percent lower than the ones who didn’t own a pet.4
There are a lot of other ways that being a dog owner can be good for your health. If you want to truly keep your dog happy and healthy, you’ll need to take him for a walk as often as possible. But this will be good for you as well, because you’ll also be more active. One study showed that a pet owner will typically exercise more than someone who doesn’t have a dog. According to the results of the study, people with a dog were more likely to get 30 minutes of exercise (or more) five days a week.5
Having a dog in the home can help your children say more active as well. While you can see benefits from having a cat, she’s not going to ask you to go for a walk or play in the backyard. A dog, on the other hand, will love to play no matter what time of day or night it may be. One study showed that children in households with dogs spend substantially more time engaging in physical activity that those in homes without a dog.6
The evidence showing how a dog will help his owner stay more active is extremely strong. For example, a Canadian study showed that a dog owner walks an average of 300 minutes a week, compared with non-owners, who walk about 170 minutes a week.7
But of course, you’ve got to be willing to walk your dog multiple times each week – and too many of us fail to do so. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that only a small percentage of owners go on walks with their pooches at least three times a week – and the percentage is even smaller among elderly people who have a dog.8
Improved Physical and Mental Health
If you’ve ever loved a dog, you know how he can just make you feel better, whether you’re having a good day or you’re going through a rough patch. Science shows that you’re not just imagining that feeling. A 2011 study, for example, showed that people engage in healthier behavior as little as a month after getting a dog compared to those who don’t have a pet.9
This same study, which involved more than 200 people, also showed that people who have a pet can see psychological benefits as well. The participants in the study answered questions designed to determine not only their personality type, but also their overall well being. The researchers found that the pet owners tended to be healthier, better adjusted, and happier overall than the ones who didn’t have a dog or cat.10
Lowering the Risk of Allergies
One of the reasons a lot of people – especially those with children – often hesitate to bring a pet into the family is that they’re worried about their kids developing an allergy. But one study shows that the opposite actually occurs. It showed that children who grow up with a dog in the home are less likely to develop a frustrating, sometimes painful skin condition known as eczema.11
Recovering from an Illness
Having a dog can also help you recover faster from a serious illness. This is the reason why you’ll often see “therapy” dogs in hospitals, rehab centers, and nursing homes. One study involving heart failure patients showed that those who came in contact with therapy dogs while in the hospital not only had substantially lower anxiety levels, but also saw a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure when compared to other patients who didn’t come into contact with the dogs.12
British researchers found that dogs can help reduce feelings of loneliness and stress, particularly among elderly people who have substantial physical limitations.13 According to another study, a dog owner may have less of a chance of dying within a year after having a heart attack than someone who doesn’t have a dog.14
Older people can especially benefit from having a canine companion. When we retire, we can find it hard to replace the structure that we had when working – a lot of retirees find that they miss the responsibilities that came with their job. Dogs can help restore that sense of structure and responsibility, because you have to take care of them in order to help them thrive. They care when you’re not feeling well, but they also want you to engage with them through play and walking. Pets can help keep older people who might have recently lost a spouse keep from feeling isolated or lonely, which is a major factor in helping to stave off diseases or problems with cognition. Dogs give many people – no matter what their age may be – a reason to get up in the morning.
Being a dog owner might even help in reducing the number of times you need to visit the doctor, particularly if you’re an elderly person. Researchers studied senior citizens on Medicare and found that they went to the doctor less over a period of a year than people who did not have pets.15
When you spend time with a pet, whether it’s a cat, a dog, or some other type of animal, that helps to stimulate a neurotransmitter that increases your sense of trust. A particular hormone known as oxytocin helps both you and your dog relax, further strengthening this incredible bond. 16
Taking Care of Your Dog So He Can Take Care of You
Of course, in order for your dog to be able to help you enjoy better health, you have to keep him as healthy as you possibly can. Following these tips will go a long way toward making sure that both of you continue to feel at your best:
· Make sure you’re as good a companion as he is – Your dog provides you an incredible amount of unconditional love, so you need to do the same for him. Never leave him alone outside for an extended time period, no matter how big your yard may be. Dogs love companionship, and they want to spend as much time with you as possible.
· Get to the vet for regular checkups – This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s sad how many people fail to get their pets checked on a regular basis. If you just got your dog and you haven’t found a vet, ask friends or family members for recommendations, or talk to someone at your local animal shelter.
· Spaying or neutering is essential – Dogs that are spayed or neutered tend to not only live longer, but also have less of a tendency to bite, run away, or exhibit other behavioral problems. They also tend to be healthier overall. If you think you might have trouble paying for the procedure, there are several options you can look into that are extremely affordable.17
· Be alert to signs of problems – If you notice your dog becoming lethargic all of a sudden, that could be an indication of some sort of health problem. Likewise, a sudden behavioral change in your pet could be a sign that something is wrong. Act quickly, and get him to the vet for an evaluation.
Feeding Him the Right Food
As important as all of these tips are to maintaining the health of your beloved companion, the most important thing you can do as a dog owner is to make sure he has a balanced diet. Lighten up on the human food, because as tempting as it is to spoil our dogs, we’re actually doing them a disservice when we give them too many table scraps. This can lead to obesity, which can, in turn, result in a wide range of health issues. Talk to your vet regarding the right type of food for your dog.
One option you might want to consider is Chef’s Best Pet Food. This organic food is made with only natural, grain-free ingredients that will ensure your pet gets exactly what he needs. Chef’s Best features carefully selected vegetables and meats, and is designed to promote excellent digestion no matter what your dog’s size or breed may be.
One attribute that separates Chef’s Best from the rest is the fact that it is freeze-dried, locking in minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that are normally lost through the process of drying food through heat. You simply add water, and the food returns to its original state – while maintaining all of its original nutrients.
The better you take care of your pet, the easier it will be for the both of you to live the longest, healthiest lives possible.
1.Ben Sutherly, The Columbus Dispatch. “Grab That Leash: Dog Ownership May Reduce Risk Of High Blood Pressure”. The Columbus Dispatch. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
2.”Dogs, Cats May Be Heart Healthy, AHA Says”. Medpagetoday.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
3.Allen K, et al. “Pet Ownership, But Not Ace Inhibitor Therapy, Blunts Home Blood Pressure Responses To Mental Stress. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
4.Levine, Glenn. “Pet Ownership And Cardiovascular Risk A Scientific Statement From The American Heart Association”. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
5.Westgarth, Carri, Robert M Christley, and Hayley E Christian. “How Might We Increase Physical Activity Through Dog Walking?: A Comprehensive Review Of Dog Walking Correlates”. N.p., 2017. Print.
6.”Family Dog Ownership And Levels Of Physical Activity In Childhood: Findings From The Child Heart And Health Study In England | AJPH | Vol. 100 Issue 9″. Ajph.aphapublications.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
7.RE, Brown. “Relationships Among Dog Ownership And Leisure-Time Walking In Western Canadian Adults. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
8.Thorpe, Roland J. et al. “Dog Ownership, Walking Behavior, And Maintained Mobility In Late Life”. N.p., 2017. Print.
9.Shoda, Tonya. “Friends With Benefits: On The Positive Consequences Of Pet Ownership”. N.p., 2011. Web. 16 June 2017.
10.Shoda, Tonya. “Friends With Benefits: On The Positive Consequences Of Pet Ownership”. N.p., 2011. Web. 16 June 2017.
11.Epstein, Tolly G. et al. “Opposing Effects Of Cat And Dog Ownership And Allergic Sensitization On Eczema In An Atopic Birth Cohort”. N.p., 2017. Print.
12.Cole, Kathie et al. “Animal-Assisted Therapy In Patients Hospitalized With Heart Failure”. Ajcc.aacnjournals.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
14.E Friedmann, S A Thomas. “Animal Companions And One-Year Survival Of Patients After Discharge From A Coronary Care Unit.”. PubMed Central (PMC). N.p., 2017. Web. 19 June 2017.
15. Shoda, Tonya. “Friends With Benefits: On The Positive Consequences Of Pet Ownership”. N.p., 2011. Print.
16.“Dog’s Gaze At Its Owner Increases Owner’s Urinary Oxytocin During Social Interaction”. Sciencedirect.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.
17.“Ten Dog Care Essentials : The Humane Society Of The United States”. Humanesociety.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 June 2017.