12 Reasons Your Dog Can Keep You Healthy
I recently got a puppy, named Marley. Marley wasn’t your typical cute little fur ball. My new 10-month old puppy was already 30 inches tall and 130 pounds when I got him. This is a lot of puppy to handle, but after losing our last Great Dane a year ago, Steve and I were more than ready and willing to accept the challenge.
When we met Marley, I guess you could say it was love at first lick. Instant joy, life and laughter came into our home that day. I started to notice Marley added a new healthy component to my life. As somewhat of a workaholic, I have a hard time stepping away from work. However, Marley forces me to take more breaks, get outside, walk, relax and even play more.
Between daily walks, dog training at Pawprints, and trips to Walton Rocks dog beach in Jensen Beach, it didn’t take long for me to notice a major increase in my daily activity on my Jawbone UP band, which tracks my steps and idle time. Then I got to thinking, Marley is so good for my health!
This realization sparked an online search to learn more about how a dog can improve people’s health. Study after study consistently proved that pet owners are healthier than the average person.
12 Health Benefits for Pet Owners
1. Pets increase activity. One study showed people who have pets were 54% more likely to get the recommended amount of daily activity than a non-pet owner. Their desire to walk and play reminds us to get out and get moving too.
2. Pets help ease people out of isolation. Dogs are great conversation pieces and make people feel more comfortable facing the world alone because, while they are not with another person, they have a loving companion.
3. Pets help people handle stress better. One study showed people with a high-stress job and high blood pressure who adopted a cat or dog had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than did people without pets.
4. Pets help children’s development. Studies showed children who suffered from wither severe ADHD or Autism displayed lengthened attention spans. Pets also teach children responsibility and how to communicate with others better.
5. Pets help boost children’s immune systems. WebMD says “If a dog lived in the home, infants were less likely to show evidence of pet allergies, 19% vs. 33%. Children were also less likely to have eczema, a common allergy skin condition that causes red patches and itching. In addition, they had higher levels of some immune system chemicals, which is a sign of stronger immune system activation.
6. Pets are match-makers. Approaching another person out of the blue can be nerve-racking, but approaching someone with a dog is much easier, and almost always welcomed. The dog gives people something to talk about that is natural and comfortable, making the initial conversation much more natural. Whether you are looking for a date, or enjoy meeting people, pets make it easier to make more friends.
7. They are calming. In a world full of hustle and bustle, people are in great need of relaxation. Pets help us slow down, stop and smell the roses – or in this case, pet the dog. Playing with a dog actually elevates levels of serotonin and dopamine, nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.
8. Pets are good for your heart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets, which showed owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
9. Pets speed recovery. When someone is stuck in bed recovering from surgery, or who has limited mobility, a pet can lift their spirits and boost recovery time. One study showed, when a dog was part of the medical team, the patients’ anxiety scores dropped by 24 percent. When a human volunteer visited the patient, it just dropped 10 percent.
10. Pets give us a sense of empowerment. Once you have trained a pet to obey your command, it is very satisfying for a pet owner to have a certain level of control, even when life can be completely out of control around you. This sense of empowerment can boost confidence and encourage people to take better care of themselves.
11. Pets make you laugh. Laughing is so good for you, but many of us don’t do it nearly enough. Laughing relaxes your muscles, releases endorphins, boosts your immune system and relieves stress. The more you laugh, the better – and pets tend to do some pretty funny stuff (like getting into the bathtub for no reason and making adorable faces like this, pictured right).
12. Pets fight depression. Pets provide companionship, unconditional love and make people feel important and loved. They keep people in a healthy routine, and help keep them active and social. One doctor said he personally witnessed people eliminate antidepressants by the simple act of obtaining a dog.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a dog, or you’ve been trying to convince a loved one you need a pet, now you have 12 really good reasons to back you up!