9 Health Benefits Of Having A Dog

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Girl with dogThere are many benefits to owning a dog that go far beyond them just being cute. Dogs can improve our overall health and help us live happier lives. Below are some of the many benefits that humans receive by spending time with our beloved canines.

Article Overview

Reduced Depression

Depression affects roughly 40 million adults. Did you know that owning a dog can help you be happier? Dogs reduce depression and improve your all-around health (as you’ll read below). Many of the items we discuss in this article are proven to help reduce depression as well (more exercise, less loneliness, reduced stress).

Get Over Rejection Sooner

A study in the journal Anthrozoös asked volunteers about an experience where they felt rejected and then asked them to name a photo of an animal, toy or human. Those who named an animal or toy felt less negatively than those who named a person.

People who treat animals or objects like people are more likely to be empathetic and also avoid negativity better. So next time you talk to your dog, know that it’s a good thing and it can help you deal with rejection.

Keep You Exercising

You know your dog needs exercise to be healthy. Spending time at the dog park or walking on your favorite trail are just a couple of ways your pup can stretch its legs. If your dog is getting exercise, that means you’re out and about as well. A Michigan State University study found that those who live with a dog exercise about 30 minutes more per week than those who don’t own a dog.

Not As Lonely

A study in Aging & Mental Health states that older adults who own pets are 36% less likely to say they’re lonely than those without. Loneliness is connected to heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other health risks. Is it safe to say that minimizing loneliness could help you reduce disease and other illness? It certainly seems worth a try, right?

Less Stressed

After 15 to 30 minutes of petting a dog, female volunteers had lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and had a higher level of oxytocin (a happy hormone) after another 1 to 5 minutes. Petting dogs has been shown to lower heart rates, as well.

Keep Your Wits About You

Research from Anthrozoös stated that older, housebound adults who owned dogs or cats were better at paying attention, remembering details and using past experiences to decide how to act than those who didn’t own a pet.

Less Pain

Being around a dog may mean you take fewer pain medications. A study in Anthrozoös states that adults who spent 5 to 15 minutes with a dog after surgery used fewer pain meds than those who didn’t.

Fewer Allergies

Babies who grow up in homes with pets are less likely to develop allergies later in life. The study found that children less than 1-year-old were half as likely to be allergic to the type of animal in their home than those who grew up without a pet in the house. This doesn’t work later in life though, early exposure is key.

Fewer Doctor Visits

A study found that seniors on Medicare who own pets had fewer doctor contacts within a 1-year period than those without pets. This was especially true of dog owners more so than cat, bird and other animal owners.

Other Benefits

Additional benefits of owning a dog include a decrease in your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride measures. Lower amounts of these things contribute to improved health.

What health benefits do you notice from being around your dog?

Sources: CDCReader’s Digest

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories, and more. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

Kimberly's natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing, and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs. Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child.

In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly’s research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today. One of Kimberly’s favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds, and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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January 23, 2020 12:12 pm

Wow, I had no idea that after about 30 minutes of petting a dog you can have lower levels of stress and heart rates, and I think this is what I need. It would be awesome to have a dog now that all my children have left my home and moved on with their lives, so I will look more into that. thank you for explaining this information in a way that will help me move in the right direction and find a puppy.

David Johnson
November 18, 2019 2:08 pm

That’s cool that housebound adults can remember past experiences and pay attention better if they own a cat or a dog. My grandma has lived on her own for the past two years. We’ll have to find her a yorkie.

Kate Hansen
August 8, 2019 1:05 pm

I never knew that after 15 to 30 minutes of peeing a dog lowers the levels of stress hormones. My daughters 8th birthday is coming up and she has always wanted a dog and was thinking about getting her one but I wanted to know some health benefits to having one. I’ll make sure to keep this in mind if I do decide to get her one.