There are many health benefits of owning a pet.  Studies show that the companionship of a dog can improve a person’s health, both physically and mentally.  Because of this, dog owners are less likely to see a doctor than those that don’t own a dog.  People that own dogs are also less likely to be on medications.  Petting a dog is also good for us.  It has been shown that petting an animal reduces blood pressure, including lowering high blood pressure that has been brought on by stress or tension.

Studies have also shown that dog owners exercised more than those that didn’t own a pet.  They also exercised more than those that owned cats.  A person that owns a dog will most likely take their dog for walks or play catch with their dog.  They are more likely to run up and down a beach with their dog or take their dog to a dog park and play with them.  Having a dog may encourage activity that otherwise might not have happened. Studies have shown that dog owners have lower cholesterol than those that don’t own dogs.  Dog owners also have lower triglycerides and are at less risk of developing heart disease.

There is evidence that owning a pet can have positive effects on human health and behavior, and these effects are relatively long term for those that own dogs.  In general, dog owners live longer than those that don’t own dogs.  Dogs provide unconditional love and companionship which helps us to handle stress better.  Studies have shown that a person who was dealing with a stressful situation was able to cope better and recover from the situation by spending time with their dog rather than talking it over with a friend or a family member.  A dog is always there for you, providing both love and affection.

You do not have to own a dog to get the health benefits.  The health benefits of dogs can result from contact with dogs, not just from owning a dog.  People show reductions in cardiovascular, behavioral, and psychological indicators of anxiety when they are with a dog.  The benefits of contact with a dog also include social support because dogs are able to provide companionship and social support themselves.  Dogs can also act as a catalyst for social interactions between people.  For example, it has been shown that wheelchair users have more social interactions with strangers when they are accompanied by a dog than when they are not.  By having a dog with you, a person is more likely to strike up a conversation by asking you about your dog or asking you if they could pet your dog.  This helps to start a conversation that could have a number of positive benefits.

Dogs are many things to us–loyal companions, affectionate counterparts, good for our health and social lives and a provider of positive energy.  My dogs have been an inspiration to our family.  They are always there for us in good and bad times.  If you don’t have a dog, you should seriously consider adopting from a shelter.  Shelter dogs, as are most dogs, are loyal, loving companions.  Dogs provide many benefits and make great companions!

For more information on the health benefits of owning a pet, visit Everyday Health.

Filed under: All About Dogs

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