Owning a pet, specifically a dog, has long been celebrated for bringing joy and companionship into our lives.
Yet, many are unaware of the numerous health benefits that dog ownership can provide.
Studies suggest that dogs can play a significant role in helping their owners maintain good health, manage weight, and relieve stress.
Read this article to explore the valuable health benefits of owning a dog and how they contribute to overall wellness.
How Owning a Dog Can Improve Your Health
Along with the health benefits of owning a dog focused on below, dogs can enhance our lives in many other ways, including:
- Improved Cardiovascular Health: Regular walks can improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Increased Social Interactions: Walking a dog often leads to conversations with other dog owners and neighbors, fostering a sense of community.
- Increased Immunity: Early exposure to dogs can boost the immune system, particularly in children, and may reduce the development of certain allergies (Fujimura et al., 2017).
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most valuable health benefits of owning a dog:
Weight Management Assistance
One of the main health benefits of owning a dog is weight control since you will instantly become more active when you get your dog (Christian et al, 2016).
Dogs require regular physical activity, which translates into more exercise for their owners.
A study by Kushner et al. (2006) found that dog owners were more likely to achieve their fitness goals and lose weight when their dog accompanied them on walks.
Regular walks and playtime can help owners to burn calories, increase their cardiovascular fitness, and lead a more active lifestyle overall.
Additionally, a consistent walking schedule can help establish the discipline and routine necessary for successful weight management.
Not only will you have to take them on walks each day, but you will actively chase them all around your house!
Walking is a great form of exercise for weight loss, so having a dog can make it easier for you to lose weight and keep it off by increasing your daily activity.
Along with that, you also have to spend a lot of time grooming your dog! You can even make grooming your dog part of your weekly house cleaning workout.
By the time you are finished grooming your dog each week, you’ll be tired!
Assuming that you don’t overeat to offset the number of calories you burn with your dog, owning a dog can help you lose weight!
Improved Joint Pain
Physical activity is not just beneficial for weight management but can also play a significant role in joint health.
For many adults, regular dog walking can help manage joint pain.
Regular walking and movement can help keep joints flexible and can alleviate symptoms of arthritis and other joint-related health issues (Schofield et al., 2005).
Dog owners, due to the increased likelihood of daily walking and playtime, may enjoy this health benefit.
Moreover, dogs can also provide physical assistance and support for individuals struggling with mobility issues, further enhancing their owner’s independence and quality of life.
If you suffer from arthritis or chronic joint pain, owning a dog can keep you active and help reduce the painful symptoms you are experiencing!
Help Controlling Destructive Behaviors
Beyond physical health benefits, dogs can also be instrumental in encouraging healthier habits and controlling destructive behaviors.
This is particularly true in cases of substance abuse, where dogs can provide a form of nonjudgmental emotional support and companionship that’s critical for recovery (Klemetsen et al., 2017).
Dogs also offer a sense of responsibility and purpose that can motivate their owners to make positive lifestyle changes (Sikstrom et al, 2020).
Owning a dog might not be a remedy for drug addiction, but if you’re overwhelmed with love and support from a furry companion each day, you will certainly think twice about doing things that are unhealthy and bad for you.
For example, if you find it hard to continue to eat a healthy diet and you’re someone who eats too many unhealthy snacks, you can buy your dog healthy snacks at a dog health-food store like Innovetpet, and buy yourself something healthy to match to keep yourself focused on getting healthy and staying healthy!
You’ll likely find that it’s a lot easier to keep yourself eating quality food when you’re feeding your dog quality food and treats.
Not only that, but dogs provide positive emotions such as love and happiness, which can improve your mental health in a variety of ways as well.
Our canine friends are natural stress relievers, and owning a dog may lower stress levels in a couple of key ways.
There is an increasing body of research, including a study by Polheber & Matchock (2014), that highlights the stress-reducing benefits of dog ownership.
The presence of a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, and diminish feelings of anxiety or loneliness.
Petting or playing with a dog can also release endorphins – chemicals in our brain that produce feelings of happiness and calm.
This emotional connection and interaction can greatly contribute to a more positive and relaxed mental state.
Walking itself is one of the best stress reducers.
Along with that, while you will walk with your dog, you will probably meet with other dog owners and spend some quality time with them as well, which is great for your mental health.
Overall, owning a dog is a great natural remedy for stress!
Concluding Thoughts – Can Owning a Dog Help You Become Healthier?
Owning a dog brings much more than just companionship.
From weight management to stress reduction, dogs contribute significantly to our physical and mental health.
As we continue to understand the positive impact dogs have on our lives, it becomes apparent that their wagging tails and unconditional love do wonders for our well-being.
As you can see, adopting a dog can be seen not just as a delightful addition to the family, but also a step towards leading a healthier, more balanced life.
However, there are multiple aspects of owning a dog that you need to consider before getting one.
First, what type of dog are you going to get?
If you planning on having your dog help you become healthier, you might not want a passive breed. Instead, you want an active dog such as a husky, collie, shepherd, Doberman, or corgi.
Next, you want to consider the climate you are living in.
If you are living in a warm region, you need to opt for a dog that is designed to walk outside in hot temperatures.
Lastly, you want to consider the commitment it takes to own a dog. If you enjoy traveling the world and are rarely home, a dog might not be right for you.
If your living conditions suit a dog, owning a dog can help you get healthier in a variety of ways!