Have you ever noticed you automatically feel better when you’re around your dog? If so, you aren’t alone. It doesn’t matter what type of dog you have – from the smallest chihuahua to the biggest German shepherd husky mix – dogs are referred to as “man’s best friend” for a reason.
The fact is, spending quality time with your dog can have a positive impact on your mood, as well as your overall stress. Dogs are the ultimate, natural stress-fighters.
There are several ways that dogs can help improve your health, with several explained here.
1. Achieve a Healthier Heart
Your dog may help you reduce your risk of heart disease. Why? Dog owners (usually) walk more and have lower blood pressure than individuals who don’t own a dog.
Getting a dog can also be beneficial if you already suffer from some type of heart issue.
It has been proven that survivors of heart attacks and individuals with serious abnormal heart rhythms who own a dog actually live longer than individuals with the same heart issues who don’t have a dog.
2. Stress Relievers
Petting your dog is not only calming to them, but also to you. In fact, this action can help reduce your blood pressure and helps your body release its relaxation hormone while cutting down on your overall levels of stress hormone.
As a result, petting your dog can be good for you and your pet!
3. Social Magnets
Dogs are people magnets. They can help you connect with people when you may find this difficult on your own.
If someone sees you walking down the street, they probably wouldn’t begin talking with you if you were alone. However, if you had a dog – it’s a completely different situation.
Additionally, individuals who use wheelchairs say that others more often make eye contact with them more frequently and ask if they can help if they are with their dogs. Dogs are social magnets!
4. Increased Mood and More Meaning in Life
If you have a dog, you are likely a happier, more trusting and much less lonely individual that a person without a dog. Also, you probably don’t visit the doctor as often for minor issues if you have a dog.
A suspected reason for that is because your pet provides you with a sense of meaning and belonging. With your dog at your side, you feel as though you have more control over your life.
5. Immune System Support for Babies
Babies that are raised in a family that has a dog may be less likely to suffer asthma or allergies according to some studies. However, to reap these benefits, a dog should be in the family early – it’s best if the baby is under six months old.
It has also been proven that babies raised around a dog (i.e. one living with them in the home) suffers fewer ear infections and colds during their initial year of life than babies who live in homes without a dog.
6. Provide Social Support for Children with Autism
Children are able to relate better to a classmate who has autism when a pet is also in the classroom.
Dogs can help to change the environment in the classroom and help to integrate individuals who are not “typical.” Once the children have become involved with the dog, they can view each other in a more positive manner, and this helps them work together more efficiently.
As you can see, owning a dog offers a wide array of health benefits. If you don’t currently have one, maybe now is the time to welcome one into your home.