There are plenty of pros and cons to consider when thinking of adopting a dog. But have you thought about how it could help your health? Research finds there are several health benefits to dog ownership.
A recent study linked canine companionship to a longer life. The study, conducted in Sweden, found dog owners had a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other causes than their peers.
What are the other health benefits to owning a dog? It can help keep you fit and active. Because dogs need daily walks, dog owners are more likely to get the recommended 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise per week. One small study from 2010 found public housing residents who walked dogs five times a week lost an average of 14.4 pounds over a year, and they didn’t consider the walks as exercise because they enjoyed their time with their buddy.
Dogs also improve our mental health. Research shows that spending a few minutes with a pet can reduce blood pressure and anxiety, and increase the brain’s production of serotonin and dopamine, which are chemicals that play a large role in maintaining a sense of calm and well-being. Taking care of a dog provides a sense of purpose and responsibility, which can help people feel grounded and fend off feelings of loneliness.
Another benefit can extend to your kids. Research shows children who grow up in a house with a dog or cat have fewer allergies or asthma. This occurs because their bodies build a stronger immune system to combat the dirt and bacteria that animals tend to track into houses.
Dog ownership is a deep commitment, but if you choose to pursue it, it can lead to a satisfying, healthy and loving relationship.