While there are a ton of good reasons to get a dog, you might not have known that one of those reasons is that your furry friend actually improves your health. The benefits of owning a dog go far beyond the cute cuddles, soft belly rubs and endless games of fetch, so if you’re thinking about adding a new four-legged member to your family, don’t think twice. These little – or big – guys will have you living a healthier life in no time, and not just because you’ll have a new best friend that’s always up for a day of playing at the park.
Dogs Lower Your Blood Pressure
Trying to get your blood pressure down? Research shows that just talking to or petting your dog can help. Dog owners have also been found to have healthier hearts all around. Studies show that people with heart problems and even heart attack survivors with dogs live longer than people with the same problems, minus the dog.
You’ll Get More Exercise
This may be the most obvious health benefit, but it’s also one of the most important. Even if you don’t plan playdates at the park with your pup that often, you still have to walk your dog, so you get more exercise through that. Add in all the time you spend chasing them around the house and throwing their favorite ball, and you might even be able to skip your next trip to the gym.
They Reduce Stress
Who doesn’t want to come home from a stressful day at work to a wagging tail and sweet puppy kisses? Spending a few minutes a day petting your dog not only lowers your blood pressure, it also causes your body to release a relaxation hormone to reduce stress. This is a win-win situation because the petting also soothes and relaxes your dog.
They’re Mood Boosters
Good news: your dog doubles as a natural antidepressant. Studies show that pet owners are generally happier and have better overall mental health and people without pets, and we’re not surprised. Those relaxation hormones that come from petting your pup include serotonin and oxytocin, and on a less scientific note, playing with your dog is just fun. Who wouldn’t you be in a good mood after that?
Your Dog Will Keep You Social
Think about it: If you see a random person walking down the street, your first thought probably won’t be to stop and say hey. On the other hand, if that same stranger were walking a dog, you might be inclined to stop and pet it or tell its owner how cute it is. So, not only do dogs keep you company with all your friends are busy, they literally attract new friends with their cuteness. More healthy social interaction equals better mental health.
They Reduce Allergy Risk
If your excuse not to get a dog is pet allergies, you might want to find a new one because owning a pet can actually reduce your risk of allergies. Well, kind of. For this one to work, the key is to start young. Studies have found that kids raised in houses with pets are less likely to develop allergies, asthma and eczema than kids who grow up in a house without pets. So instead of being the source of your allergies, your dog could actually be the reason you don’t have any.
Your Immune System Will Get Stronger
Just like the likelihood to develop allergies and asthma, dogs can reduce your chances of getting sick. We all know that dogs can get dirty, but that could end up being a good thing in the long run. Research has found that children who spent more time around dogs during their childhood were less likely to get sick. Babies with dogs also get fewer colds and ear infections during their first year than babies in a pet-free household. Which means that the next you’re your dog drags in a pile of dirt (because, yes, there will always be a next time), think about your immune system and be thankful.