Pets have been a part of human families throughout history. It turns out, there may be a good reason for that. According to a growing body of research, owning a dog can have some pretty impressive health benefits.
Fur babies not only provide companionship and a steady stream of photo ops, but they can also ensure that at a minimum we’re out walking at least once a day. And it’s no surprise that our pups can improve mental health and well-being. One research group found that dog owners age better than people who don’t have dogs!
The research into the connection between humans and dogs continues to grow, and it's becoming increasingly clear that owning a dog can have some amazing health benefits.
Let's take a closer look at some of the surprising ways owning a dog can boost your health.
Benefit #1: Reduced Social Isolation
The past few years have seen humanity experience some of the loneliest moments on record. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in social isolation and loneliness, and the health problems that come with it. In fact, one study found that in the United States, nearly half of all adults reported feeling lonely at least some of the time.
Loneliness is a serious public health issue, as it has been linked to depression, anxiety, heart disease, and even early death. However, a study from Australia has found that owning a dog can drastically reduce feelings of loneliness.
In the study, researchers from the Human Animal Bonding Institute found that 85% of individuals who owned a dog reported drastically reduced instances of loneliness. In fact, the majority of participants said that their dog was their sole source of social support.
Benefit #2: Better Heart Health
Heart conditions are a leading cause of death worldwide. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases are responsible for nearly 18 million deaths every year.
Thankfully, there is evidence to suggest that owning a dog can help reduce the risk of developing some heart conditions. For instance, one study found that dog ownership was linked to a reduction in heart-related deaths. Whether due to walking outdoor or simply petting their furry friend, it seems that dogs can have a positive impact on heart health.
Benefit #3: Improved Mental Health
It's no secret that mental health is in a state of crisis worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression rates climb worldwide - and stress and anxiety are often to blame.
A recent study from Washington State University has discovered that as little as ten minutes of petting a family dog can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Participants in the study were asked to complete a stressful task and then given ten minutes to either pet their dog or sit quietly.
The results showed that those who had taken the time to pet their fur baby experienced significantly lower levels of stress and anxiety than those who had not.
Benefit #4: Dogs Can Get You Moving
Find it tough to get up and burn those calories? Good news! Studies have shown that owning a dog can help you get moving and stay active.
For example, one study found that people who owned dogs were more likely to meet the recommended exercise requirements than those who did not own a pet dog. In fact, dog owners were nearly twice as likely to meet the recommendations for physical activity levels.
This makes sense when you think about it - after all, most dogs need to be walked at least once (or more) a day, so why not take advantage of that and get some exercise in yourself?
Benefit #5: They May Help You Live A Longer, Happier Life
One of the most impressive health benefits of owning a dog is that they may help you live longer due to their "happiness factor". Research has shown that owning and petting a dog can contribute to an increase in dopamine — an essential "happy hormone".
When dopamine comes in natural levels, our bodies tend to function better. We're able to think more clearly, have better motor skills, and just feel all-around happier.
So it's no surprise that one study found that dog owners were more likely to report higher levels of satisfaction with their lives than those who did not own a pet dog.
Enhance Your Lifelong Health By Adding A Furry Friend
There's no doubt about it - owning a dog comes with a whole host of health benefits, both mental and physical. From reducing loneliness to improving heart health, there are few downsides to adding a furry friend to your family.
So if you're looking for a way to enhance your lifelong health, consider welcoming a dog into your home. They'll repay you with years of love and companionship.