There are many reasons people choose to get a dog. Playful, comforting and loyal, a dog can make a great companion or a cute and cuddly addition to a family. But did you know that there are also health benefits of owning a dog? There are several ways your pets can have a positive effect on your health and wellbeing.
Dogs Can Lower Your Risk of Obesity
Owning a dog often means you engage in more physical activity. The amount of time you spend walking your dog and playing with your dog can have a real positive impact on your body. According to a study carried out at Canada’s University of Victoria, dog owners typically walk 300 minutes a week, compared to non-owners with an average 168 minutes of walking time. Those extra minutes can significantly contribute to keeping you in shape!
Dogs Can Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
Just as the increased physical activity can help to prevent weight gain, it can also reduce your risk of heart problems. Exercise is key in maintaining a healthy heart, and the extra movement that comes with having a dog can make a difference. One study found that even those with past heart problems have an increased life expectancy after becoming dog owners.
Dogs Can Reduce Your Levels of Stress Hormones
Your pet can be a great boost to your mental health as well as your physical health. Research has shown that 15 minutes stroking your dog releases the feel-good hormones serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin, while lowering the stress hormone cortisol. The result is a reduced risk of depression or stress, and an all-round better mood.
Dog Owners Have Lower Blood Pressure
Considering the positive impact dogs can have on the heart and stress levels, it’s unsurprising that they seem to lower their owners’ blood pressure. Evidence reviewed by the American Heart Association has demonstrated that people who own dogs are more likely to have lower blood pressure than people who don’t. This, of course, reduces their risk of a number of serious health conditions.
Dogs Can Sometimes Detect Cancer
In some cases, dogs can actively save their owners’ lives, thanks to an incredible ability to sniff out cancer. While this won’t always be the case, there are a number of reports of dogs detecting cancer. In one instance, a woman’s dog relentlessly sniffed at, and even tried to bite off, the mole on her leg. When she had the mole checked by a doctor, it turned out to be malignant melanoma.
Overall, there’s enough research to show that the benefits of owning a dog can be more than just a pleasant presence in the home, with benefits for over 50s health that go beyond putting a smile on your face.
Man’s best friend is a great health benefit. Do your pets keep you active? Which dog breed do you think gives its’ owners the most exercise? We would love to hear from you.