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How Owning A Dog Can Improve Your Health

Updated on November 4, 2011

When most people consider getting a dog, they usually want one for the companionship. However, what many people don't know is that dog ownership could increase your own lifespan! This article covers the numerous ways dogs can benefit their owners, for the simple price of care and affection.

They Reduce Stress

Spending time with a pet induces actual chemical changes in your brain that can leave you relaxed and happy. Even ten minutes of petting a dog will release serotonin and dopamine in your brain, and pet owners have been found to have lower blood pressure than their petless counterparts. They also have lower rates of depression. This is in part due to the reduction of loneliness that accompanies a dog. Besides having a faithful sidekick, you're bound to meet new people while out and about walking your pup. Increased human contact is a great way to combat depression.

They Make You Exercise

Dogs are active creatures, and there's nothing like a bouncing pup to get you out the door! I'm not sure I need to enumerate the many benefits of regular exercise, but suffice to say that a couple walks a day with your dog will drastically improve your quality of life for decades. Your bones will be stronger, your joints less prone to arthritis, and your cholesterol lower. Heart attack victims with pets are more likely to survive than those without, and survive longer before getting medical help. Exercise, of course, is also great for your dog!

They Boost Your Child's Development

Children raised with dogs tend to mature better both mentally and physically. In fact, dogs are often used as therapy animals for children with developmental disorders. The responsibility of dog ownership can add structure to a child's life and can help combat ADHD. Autistic children often spend time with dogs as a less stressful way to learn communication skills. Growing up with a dog also reduces a child's allergies and strengthen the immune system. The influence of a dog on a child can follow him or her throughout their whole life.

They Know When Something's Wrong

Dogs have incredible noses and powers of observation. About one in three pups can detect when a diabetic's blood sugar drops and warn them in time to eat something. They can also sense oncoming seizures and notify epileptics, as well as protect their master while he or she is incapacitated. Dogs can sniff cancer, push an emergency button, and alert their owners to unseen dangers. Remember how Lassie always brought help when Timmy was in mortal peril? Your own pooch could very well do the same for you one day (although it's best not to rely on it!)

Dogs are our best friends, in ways they can't even understand. But we do, and we should always remember the many benefits they give us in exchange for our time. Unconditional love is just the first of their gifts to their masters. So if your dog is asleep right now, or looking at you like the most neglected beast in the world, do yourself a favor and give him some attention!


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    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      I checked funny too, because they can make you laugh. I worked at a mental health facility for adolescents for 10 years. We kept a couple of dogs, and volunteers would bring in therapy dogs. It was more effective than anything to let the dogs run around with the kids. Therapists were surprised to see older, street hardened teenagers from the inner city relaxed, smiling and being tender.

    • Shawn Scarborough profile image

      Shawn Scarborough 5 years ago from The Lone Star State

      Dogs do make wonderful pets. I know that my dog certainly helps reduce my stress level and gets me off the couch to take him for a walk. Great hub, voted up!

    • Carolus profile image

      Carolus 5 years ago from USA /Portugal

      I agree. A dog is always happy to see you when you get home! That's not always true for a loved one (the human kind), a cat or a goldfish. My next dog is going to be a vizsla. Nice hub.

    • alphagirl profile image

      alphagirl 5 years ago from USA

      Well said! We love our dog. Infact, I consider her my 3rd child. Dogs are observant and she knows just by the way we move if she gets a walk, a treat, run, or gets to go out for ball. But most of all she is so loving and barks only when she hears a stranger at the door. Best off she was adopted at age two and was easily retrained to fit our lifestyle.

      I LOVE the close up of your puts a smile on everyone's face!

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      WD Curry 111- Great story. :) Yes, dogs and laughter go hand-in-hand!

      Shawn- Thanks!

      Carolus- Vizsla are SUCH cool dogs. And yes, when I compare the affections of my dogs to my cat's, it simply can't compete.

      Alphagirl- Thanks! I was trying to take a more dignified picture, but Lucy kept going for the sneaky-kisses. Silly girl.

    • LisaKoski profile image

      LisaKoski 5 years ago from WA

      I could never live without a dog. I totally agree with everything you said here

    • brewskitimeguy profile image

      brewskitimeguy 5 years ago from Maine

      great piece..I just got out of the hospital and all I could think oof getting home and seeing my dogs...they play all day long and keep me going

    • sharcllns profile image

      sharcllns 5 years ago from Southern New Jersey

      Dogs are wonderful and for many years I had them.Now I just have my cats. Cats can make great pets as well especially if there temperament is one that allows lots of cuddling. I would love to have a dog but I'm not home often enough so for me the cats are better.

      Your Hub is a good one. My daughter recently had a pet therapy day with her Alzheimer and developmentally disabled clients.

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      Thanks for the comments! Yes, cats can make great companions, especially if you need a more independent pet. I prefer my dogs, but my cat gets plenty of attention as well!

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