Blog 5 Ways Owning a Dog can Help Improve Your Health

Unlike other pet species, dogs are empathetic and pro-social, making them invaluable to their
owner’s health. (Learning and Behavior, Springer’s Journal). You may have realized that many
rehabilitation centers have dogs. The reason is that they have the profound ability not only to
identify distress but also to empathize with it.
The point here is that dogs tend to respond faster to people they are familiar with. A 2016 study
at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna established that dogs differentiate between
crying and simple humming. They respond much quicker when the physiological and behavioral
indicators show that there is a problem. Now, why are all these studies relevant?
Dogs are more than just companions. Like humans, they feel and get stressed just as you do. This
ability to empathize is what makes them useful to your health. Let us look at some specific ways
a dog can help you improve your health.

1. Stress Management

You may think stroking your dog is a reflex action, but it is very efficient in stress relief. This
touch and movement helps increase your dopamine and serotonin levels, two neurochemicals
that promote positive feelings and give you a good mood. What is fascinating is that you can
even train a dog to identify specific stress indicators and to react to yourself or people in need.

2. Weight Loss

Staying healthy is a lifelong battle, and it is quite understandable to fall off the wagon every so
often. The beauty of owning a dog is that these furry friends operate on routine. What this means,
essentially, is that once you begin walking them, you will have to do it every day. How does this
fit into your fitness regimen? Studies by The University of Michigan and The University of
Virginia indicate that you will walk up to 150 minutes more a week if you own a dog. These
studies also show that a dog owner can lose as much as 15lbs from dog walking alone. Dog
walking also makes you more relaxed, more energetic, and ultimately happier.

3. Improve Your Social Life

Did you know that you are 40% more likely to meet new friends if you own a dog? If you are
shy, then owning a dog is a great way to break the ice. Most people love dogs. Even a random
walk in the park can get you into a conversation with relative ease. The great thing here is there
is no limit to the people you can talk to: Even other dog owners can turn into lifelong friends.

4. Remedy for Depression

Owning a dog may seem like a lot of work, but it gives you the same kind of fulfillment you get
from caring for a child. Clinical depression stems from a lack of self-worth. A dog allows you to
meet new people, to exercise, and it will give you all its attention. For someone battling clinical
depression, this provides a new lease of life. Nothing beats the feeling of being loved and
appreciated. As mentioned earlier, dogs can identify when you are sad or anxious and come to
your rescue. Therapy dogs are very efficient when it comes to their companionship and mood-
boosting capabilities.

5. Cardiac Health

Low blood pressure and reduced cholesterol are all proven benefits of owning a dog. According
to a study by Harvard Health, dog owners are less prone to heart attacks due to lower heart
reactivity during stress. They are well equipped to handle stress. The power of touch and
constant eye contact provides a calming effect that lowers blood pressure. The exercises and
overall increase in activity tied to owning a dog also improves fitness, which means lower
cholesterol and better heart health.

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