There are many benefits to owning a pet, and one of the most important is that they are good for your health. And that goes well beyond the benefits of walking five miles a day and getting fitter; there are many more benefits than just muscle toning.
Think about it: Dogs have a wonderful habit of spreading their love and affection. So is it this behavior that keeps us healthy? One group that specializes in the "human-animal health connection" and has found many instances of dogs improving the well-being of people. This ranges from pet dogs to therapy dogs, all helping to improve health by just being around.
And the facts speak for themselves in all areas of life. Through recent studies, the Society has found that people with dogs are more likely to accept change, are more likely to deal with stress, and have fewer contacts with their doctor. It was also found that pet owners have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and better psychological health than non-dog-owners.
Improved state of mind
Many dog owners feel their pet is healthy for them because their pet makes them feel good. Doctor Ambrose, a medical practitioner and dog owner, feels that owning a dog improves a person's state of mind, therefore improving their health.
"In lots of circumstances, research has found that owning or being around a dog for any period of time has helped patients to focus on something else," he states. "This can be seen in instances of enormous trauma, such as someone losing a family member or undergoing severe cancer treatment, where people around therapy pets show vast improvements. People who have pets show less depression and reduced stress. Dogs are a major source of support and increase the ability to cope, which contributes to keeping cholesterol and blood pressure down. Of course, taking a dog for a half hour walk every day is also a great benefit."
The healthy benefits, physically and mentally, of owning a dog can be seen in every walk of life. In a sector study of people over the age of 60, it was found that even the most highly stressed dog owners in the study saw their doctors 21 percent less than non-dog-owners. It was also found that the level of activities of daily living of non-pet-owning seniors deteriorated more on average than that of pet-owning seniors. Dog owners in their senior years also coped better with stressful events without having to enter the health care system.
At the other end of the scale, having a dog in the family can mean a healthier lifestyle for your children. Studies have shown that contact with a family dog develops nurturing behavior in children, encouraging them to show empathy and enhance positive self-esteem. Children who have a pet dog are also less likely to suffer from feelings of isolation and loneliness. It is also noted that children exposed to dogs during the first year of their lives have a lower frequency of allergies and asthma. Plus, 70 percent of families surveyed reported an increase in family happiness and fun after adopting a dog.
All the studies point to the fact that owning a dog is good for a child's well-being, encouraging them to get involved in more social activities, and that children with dogs in the family lead less stressful lives, with better health.
There is also research that suggests that dogs help to keep heart attacks at bay, and that owning a dog may decrease heart attack mortality by 3%. Although this doesn't sound like a lot, it still translates to more than 30,000 lives saved annually in the U.S. alone. Imagine what this figure could be for the rest of the world.
It was discovered that dog owners are also less likely to feel afraid of being victims of crime when walking their dog or sharing their home with their dog.
Of course, anyone who owns dogs will list thousands of benefits: love, companionship, fun, excitement, and now they can list health too. It's official: Owning a dog is healthy!