Let’s face it: you brought home a dog because they’re adorable. Plus, there’s nothing quite like sharing your home with an animal that worships the ground you walk on.
Lucky for you, there are plenty of health benefits involved with owning a pooch – including a few that may surprise you.
- You’ll Get More Exercise: Someone has to walk the pooch every day, after all. Having a dog means you’ll spend less time on the couch and more time getting your blood pumping in the fresh air. Sounds like a win/win for your heart.
- You’ll Be Less Stressed: It turns out that petting a pup can lower your levels of cortisol, a hormone caused by stress. Not only that, but physical contact with your mutt will make your serotonin levels rise. And no, your dog didn’t pay us to tell you this.
- You’ll Have Lower Cholesterol: Dog owners have lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than non-pet owners do. Why? No one knows – but we suggest not looking a gift dog in the mouth.
- You’ll Have Fewer Allergies: Children who are exposed to furry pets have a lower risk of both allergies and eczema. This is probably due to all the dander in the air; it’s gross, but it sure beats sneezing.
- You’ll Age More Gracefully: Seniors who own dogs make fewer trips to the doctor. This is likely because they’re more active, less stressed, and have adorable help coping with chronic illnesses.
- You Won’t Be as Lonely: Lonely people have more health problems and die younger. If you don’t know that many people in your area, having a dog gives you a built-in friend – not to mention a great icebreaker for meeting strangers.
- You’ll Feel Better About Yourself: Multiple studies have shown that dog owners have higher self-esteem than those without pets. To be fair, this could potentially mean that people who feel better about themselves are more likely to adopt dogs, but it could also mean that having a constant source of pure, unadulterated love at your side makes you happier with who you are.
- You’ll Be Less Likely to Be Depressed: This likely goes hand-in-hand with the self-esteem issue. Spending time with a dog makes you feel better about your life and the world in general; it also gives you someone who will listen to all your problems (as long as you’re petting them, of course).
- You’ll Have a Better Chance of Surviving a Heart Attack: Dog owners have a better survival rate a year after having a heart attack. In fact, having a dog reduces the risk of dying from any cardiac disease. It makes sense, though – your heart belongs to someone else the moment you bring a mutt home.
- People Will Find You More Trustworthy: Studies have shown that people trust dog owners more than non-pet owners. This will help you make more friends – and may make you more likely to be successful when you hit those newfound friends up for a loan.
- You’ll Get Earlier Disease Warnings: Many dogs have alerted their owners to the fact that they have cancer or other diseases, often saving their lives in the process. How do they know? It may be due to a change in your odor.
- You’ll Stay at a Healthier Weight: Dog owners are less likely to be overweight than non-owners – provided they regularly walk their pups, that is. It’s not quite a substitute for a gym membership, but it’s certainly better than sitting at home on the couch.
- You’ll Have a Sense of Purpose: It’s hard to get through life if you don’t find any meaning in it. People with a strong sense of purpose are less likely to die – of any cause – than those without, and having a furry friend who depends on you is a great way to find meaning in your life.
- You’ll Have Better Relationships: Having a dog can improve social interaction in children, boost responsiveness in mental illness sufferers, and improve social skills of convicted felons. Of course, the best relationship you’ll have will always be with your dog.
- You’ll Be Safer When You’re at Home: There’s no home security system quite like a dog. Barking dogs are a huge deterrent for home invaders, so not only will your pooch keep you happy and healthy – they’ll keep you (and your TV) safe and sound as well.
- You’ll Be Less Likely to Go into Diabetic Shock: Many dogs can sense a dangerous drop in blood glucose levels. They can alert you to the fact that it’s time for a snack or a cup of Robusta bean coffee – oh, and while you’re up, won’t you get a treat for them too?
- They’ll Help Your Kids Manage Their ADHD: Having a dog is a fun way to learn structure and responsibility; after all, the dog has to be fed and walked at a certain time every day. Playing with the pooch also helps kids burn off excess energy and boosts their self-esteem.
- You’ll Have Stronger Bones: Putting weight on your bones and muscles keeps them strong and limber. Getting out and walking your pooch every day is a fantastic, low-impact weight-bearing exercise. Just don’t let Fido know you’re hiding some high-quality bones under your skin.
- You’ll Have Relief from Chronic Pain: Heat is one of the best treatments for conditions that cause chronic pain like fibromyalgia. What better source of heat than having a cute pup curled up next to you? Certain hairless dogs, like the Xoloitzcuintli, are known for putting out massive amounts of body heat (and for being incredibly ugly, but let’s focus on the positives here).
- You Can Have More Independence: Some diseases, like Parkinson’s, are notorious for robbing sufferers of the ability to live their lives on their own terms. A therapy dog can be trained to perform certain tasks for their owners, allowing them to live on their own longer than they would otherwise be able to.
- They’ll Help with Sensory Issues: Many autistic people also suffer from sensory issues; this means they have huge issues with the tactile sensations caused by certain surfaces. Dogs are an excellent way to introduce new sensations while also keeping the affected person calm and focused.
- They Can Calm PTSD Sufferers: People who are recovering from traumatic experiences can enjoy a sense of calm security, all from petting their dogs. This is likely due to the increase in serotonin and decrease in cortisol that comes from petting a pooch.
- They Can Predict Oncoming Seizures: Trained seizure alert dogs can recognize the signs of an impending seizure, allowing their owners to get to a safe place before the seizure begins. They can also be trained to get help if the affected person lives alone or is likely to hurt themselves.
Besides eating right and exercising, having a dog is one of the best things you can do for your health, so consider adopting one today.
As it turns out, saving that dog from the pound may just save you from an early grave as well.