- Improve heart health
Dogs don’t just fill your heart; they actually make it stronger. Studies show that having a canine companion is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health and fewer heart attacks. What’s more, dog owners who do have heart attacks have better survival rates following the events.
2.Keep you fit and active
Health experts recommend that adults get about 2 hours and 30 minutes worth of moderate exercise per week. Dog owners are way more likely to hit that goal. “People love to be outside to walk their dog, and be with their dog”. In turn, that activity helps us remain mobile into our 70s and 80s. Studies found that older adults who walked dogs experienced “lower body mass index, fewer activities of daily living limitations, fewer doctor visits, and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise.”
- Help you lose weight
Want to drop a few pounds? Grab Fido and get hoofing. Research has repeatedly found that daily dog walks help you lose weight, since they force you to into moderate physical activity for 10, 20, and even 30 minutes at a time. In fact, in 2010, one study discovered public housing residents who walked “loaner” dogs five times a week lost an average of 14.4 pounds over the course of a year. The best part: Participants considered it a responsibility to the dog, rather than exercise. (”They need us to walk them.”)
- Improve your social life
As we age, it becomes harder to get out and meet people. Not so for dog owners. Researchers have found that about 40 percent make friends more easily, possibly because the vast majority—4 in 5, according to one British study—speak with other dog owners during walks. “Dog owners in particular tend to be a little more extroverted or outgoing” . “When you start to engage them about their companion animal, people tend to open up and really blossom. They want to share stories about their favourite friend.”
- Reduce stress
There’s a reason therapy dogs are so effective: Spending just a few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and blood pressure, and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurochemicals that play big roles in calm and well being. People performing stressful tasks do better when there’s a dog around, too, and studies show dogs ease tension both at the office and between married couples.
6. Battle disease and injury
It’s believed that owning a dog can help detect, treat, and manage a variety of illnesses and debilitations. A few examples:
- Service dogs are known to benefit people with everything from traumatic brain injury to autism to rheumatoid arthritis, increasing mobility and promoting independence.
- Alzheimer’s patients are soothed by dogs, whose companionship also seems to mitigate emotional flare-ups and aggression.
- Some dogs have been trained to sniff out skin, kidney, bladder and prostate cancer, among others.
- Stave off depression
It’s widely believed that dog owners are less prone to depression than the dog-less, largely because they seem to help in so many other areas of health and well being. Therapy dogs—animals that do not stay in your home—have been shown to be effective in easing depression for a variety of people, old and young, sick and healthy.
- Prevent grandchildren's allergies
Back in the olden days (the ‘90s), experts believed having a dog in your home contributed to children’s allergies. Fortunately, recent research shows just the opposite is true: Dogs and cats actually lower a child’s chance of becoming allergic to pets—up to 33 percent, according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. As a side bonus, young children might even develop stronger immune systems.
- Reduce doctor visits
If you’re over 65 and own a pet, odds are you seek medical help about 30 percent less often than people who don’t have a pet. To wit: In the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology a study established that animal-owning seniors on Medicare “reported fewer doctor contacts over the 1-year period than respondents who did not own pets.” And while cats, birds, and other animals were helpful, “Owners of dogs, in particular, were buffered from the impact of stressful life events on physician utilisation.”
10. Add meaning and purpose
As we grow older—especially after we retire—it can be difficult to find structure and meaning day in and day out. Dogs and cats take care of that. They force people to continue to do things. So, even if you’re not feeling well emotionally or physically, your dog or cat still wants you to feed them and take them for a walk.”
Pets help prevent loneliness and isolation, as well, which is key in staving off cognitive decline and disease. They help us to not just focus on our needs and give us a reason to really get up in the morning.