The Surprising Health Benefits Of Owning A Dog
Companion, Friend, Health Booster
The health benefits of having a dog
We all know that dogs, and pets in general, can help when it comes to lowering our stress levels (unless they're pooping on your favourite rug 😅) But a recently published study shows just how much of an impact they're having on our health.
Here are some of the more surprising ways that dogs can impact your health positively:
- Dogs can help you sleep better
- Dogs can sense illness and help you recover from surgery faster
- Dogs can help boost the immune system and reduce allergies in children
- Dogs can help you live longer
- Dog ownership was associated with a 33% lower risk of death for heart attack survivors living alone and 27% reduced risk of death for stroke survivors living alone, compared to people who did not own a dog.
- Dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a 31% lower risk of death by heart attack or stroke compared to non-owners.
Dogs and Humans, a short history recap:
Dogs have been around for thousands of years. Somewhere between 14,000 and 29,000 years ago, these precious creatures came into our lives. Imagine that first human/dog interaction! It must have been love at first sight/bite.
Late 17th century depiction of a knight and his loyal companion. Located at the base of the St John of nepomuk statue in Prague. Passing visitors pet the dog for luck which has lead to it's bright gold appearance.
The first dogs were likely wolves attracted to settlements because of the availability of food scraps (even our ancestors couldn't resist those sad puppy eyes!) As they became more comfortable with humans, their offspring became the first domesticated dogs. Over time they went from being hunters, to providing comfort, companionship and protection to us lucky humans.
Dogs have provided us with a range of health benefits for thousands of years, and our bond just keeps getting stronger and stronger! 🐶
Okay, let's dive into the details and discover some of the more surprising health benefits of having a dog.
4 Surprising health benefits of having a dog
1. Dogs can help you sleep better
Do you sleep better with your dog close by? I bet the answer is yes! Studies have shown that dog owners get more (and better quality) sleep than people without dogs.
Two reasons for this could be that having them close provides companionship and a sense of security, so after a long, stressful day, you can drift off to sleep feeling safe and comforted.
2. Dogs can help boost your immune system
Some studies suggest that children who grow up with dogs can have a reduced risk of developing allergies and asthma. For us adults, being exposed to a variety of bacteria and germs can help boost and build up our immune systems.
(We recommend washing your hands if you're on pooper scooper duty though as those germs can be pretty nasty!)
If you have allergies and are wondering what your options are, here's a list of dog breeds that may be suitable...
List of dog breeds considered less allergenic:
1. Bichon Frise
2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. Afghan Hound
4. Irish Water Spaniel
6. Miniture & Standard Schnauzer
8. American Hairless Terrier
9. Standard Poodle
10. Tibetan Terrier
Source: American Kennel Club
Good to know:
Even some hypoallergenic dogs may trigger allergy symptoms in some people. We recommend checking with a doctor or an allergist before getting a dog if you think you may be affected.
3. Dogs can help you feel better. Quicker
They really can, right? Studies have shown that dog owners can bounce back from surgery and illness quicker. Also, petting a dog increases our oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with bonding and relaxation, and can be helpful in aiding recovery.
Also, have you ever wondered how they seem to know when we're not feeling well? They do this by picking up scents and smell changes in our breath, sweat, and urine, as well as noticing changes in our behaviour. That's a superhero superpower, surely!
4. Dogs can help you live longer
(Yes, please!) It's easy to see how having a dog would benefit your health and longevity.
Here's the list of benefits, it's truly impressive!
- Can help improve our mental health
- Provide companionship and social support
- Help us cope with stress and anxiety
- Help us feel happier and more optimistic
- Encourage us to be more active
- Help lower blood pressure
- Give us unconditional love and support
- Reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Can help children learn responsibility, compassion and empathy
- They encourage people to be more active and social, which can both lead to a longer lifespan
Just by being there and cuddling up next to us, dogs can turn a bad day into a good day, help ground us in the moment, and remind us of what's really important in life.
So, remember to say thank you to your furry best friend today. They absolutely deserve it! ❤️