Bulldog Health

Bulldog Health Article 20: Health Benefits of owning a Dog

The Health Benefits Of Owning A Dog

Owning a pet can help you stay healthier. You probably know how much fun it is to have a dog and how much affection your pet can bring to your life. What may come as a surprise is how many powerful physical and mental health benefits your dog can also provide. Dogs are particularly good at reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. They can help ease loneliness and will often encourage you to exercise more which improves your overall health. If you have children, caring for a dog provides them an opportunity to learn responsibility. A dog also provides much-needed companionship to older adults who may become isolated and depressed.

Dogs Can Improve Health And Mood

More than any other animal, a dog is acutely aware of their owner's feelings and emotions. They study our behavior patterns and when something is awry, they notice it immediately. Dogs interpret the sound of our voices, our gestures, and our body language. Your dog will gaze into your eyes to ascertain your emotional state and will try and figure out what you are feeling and thinking.

Most dog owners understand the benefits of owning a dog, but may not be aware of just how important playing and snuggling with their dog can be to their mental health. In recent years, scientific studies have explored the benefits of the bond between humans and animals. The American Heart Association's research linked reduced the risk for heart disease to pet ownership. Other studies have found that people who own dogs often have lower blood pressure and that dog owners are less likely to experience depression. When you play with your dog, your body produces more dopamine and serotonin, both of which help us relax and feel more calm. Other studies indicate that those who are over age 65 will visit the doctor 30 percent less if they own a pet. Owning a dog provides us with the most basic of human needs - to touch another. Hugging, stroking and interacting with a dog will help soothe and calm us when we are anxious or stressed. This provides us incredible mental health benefits over the long term.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Owning a dog can also help us make lifestyle changes that can lead to a healthier, more active life. While you are caring for your dog, you can care for yourself and both of you will feel better. Some of the healthy lifestyle changes you can make with your dog include:

- More daily exercise. You can take your dog for a walk, hike, or a run and both of you will reap the benefits. It is easier to meet your daily exercise requirement if you can take along your dog.

- Socialization. It is amazing how many people you can meet just by walking your dog. Dogs love to stop and smell and sniff each other and while they are doing this, you can meet a new friend. You are also likely to meet people at training classes, the pet store, and even clubs for your breed of dog.

- Companionship. Owning a dog means you have a loyal and affectionate companion. This can help prevent loneliness and depression. When you care for your animal, you know another living being is dependent upon you and loves you. This can often help take your focus off your own problems.

It is important to understand that owning a dog is a commitment. You must take the time and energy to provide your dog with exercise and care. While a dog can provide you with many health benefits, but you will also need to make an investment in caring for the dog.

Jonathan Leger is a small business owner and freelance writer. He also runs a popular question and answer site with a section dedicated to pets and pet care
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