Your canine companion is there when you need him most. He sees you off in the morning, greets you in the evening and is always a good shoulder to cry on or friend to lend an ear.
You take good care of your dog’s health by treating it to plenty of walks, playtime, and regular visits to the vet. But did you know your dog may be returning the favor by boosting your health, too?
Research has found that dog owners live longer lives and stay more active while they do it.
But there are also some interesting ways your dog can make you healthier that you may not have expected, like reducing stress and depression, boosting your immunities and making you more social.
Here are the ways that owning a dog could be improving your health.
Improve your heart health
Snuggling with your dog or taking them for a romp around the yard can make you happy. But spending time with your dog can make your heart happy, too.
Harvard Medical School reports that owning a dog can lead to lower blood pressure, which helps keep your risk for cardiovascular disease down.
Researchers think one of the reasons this may be is that dogs help calm you down. That means when stress comes knocking, your heart rate may not increase as much, and your blood pressure may stay more stable.
The less stress on your heart, the better. The Mayo Clinic writes that heart disease can be linked to stress, so the calming effect of your furry friend can be a great extra boost to keep your heart healthy.
Stay more active
Man’s best friend loves to stay active. And with good reason — staying active keeps their boredom and anxiety down, and their organs and muscles strong so they can live a long, healthy life.
But the benefits of staying active with your dog extend to you, too.
All that walking with your canine companion is great for your health. Regular walks help you maintain your body weight, make your muscles and bones stronger, boost your mood, and decrease your chances for diabetes and heart disease.
People who own dogs are also more likely to spend time outside than those without dogs. Spending time outside has been linked to lower stress and more happiness overall.
Plus, people who live alone are also more likely to stay active when they own a dog. The American Heart Association found that people with dogs are 54% more likely to get the activity they need each day.
Help reduce depression
Your dog is always an open ear and a shoulder to cry on. They love you unconditionally and without judgment.
These common canine treats can be very comforting to you as a dog owner. This comfort (combined with staying active with your dog means a dog can help reduce your risk of depression.
And being less depressed isn’t just good for you today -- it’s good for you tomorrow, too. Studies have found that people who are happier tend to live longer.
Boost your immunity
Hair cleanup aside, your furry friend can boost your immune system. This can be especially powerful for your children.
Your dog exposes your kids to allergens and dander, which gives their bodies a chance to build up a strong defensive immunity that’ll benefit them for the rest of their lives.
That means your dog can help reduce their chances of developing allergies, eczema, and asthma. This is particularly effective if you own a dog before your child is 6 months old.
Be sure to thank your parents if they always had a dog around when you were growing up — it may have done great things for your immunity!
Makes you more social
Having a dog helps keep you social, which is especially important as you age, or if you live alone.
When you take your dog for walks or to the dog park, you’re likely to have a chat with other dog owners. Those friendly conversations can do good things for your health — being in regular contact with other people improves the strength of your immune system and helps your memory.
Staying social also helps make less likely to feel lonely, which research has found improves your sleep and helps fight off depression.
Your dog is likely one of your best friends, and it’s not like you needed any more reasons to love them. But it’s nice to know that keeping your canine companion around has some added bonuses for your health and wellness, too!
To keep enjoying the health benefits of having a dog, you’ve got to do your part to help keep your dog healthy and happy.