How Owning a Dog Can Improve Your Health

How Owning A Dog Can Improve Your Health
Working from home, my dog is my constant companion for much of the day. He is always there, at my feet or at the door, ready for the next adventure! However, apart from the companionship that he brings me each day, my dog is taking care of my health in more ways than one. Dogs not only take care of your emotional needs, they can also detect the early warning signs of more serious physical health conditions too. Your dog may just literally be your lifesaver.

Dogs and Your Emotional Health

Dogs are great companions for people who suffer from stress, anxiety and depression. Dogs will listen to you talk all day long and will give you unconditional love; they can detect when you are feeling low and will offer comfort where they can.

Doctors and therapists are also realizing the health value that a dog can bring into someone’s life and pet therapy is now becoming popular as a prescribed therapy for many people. Several nursing homes and hospitals have programs in place for pet therapy; dog owners (who have had their dogs approved into the program) bring their dogs into these places for visits with people who are elderly or sick. Some of the benefits of pet therapy are:

  • provide motivation
  • provide mental stimulation
  • assist in helping rehab patients walk again
  • improve reading skills of children.

(source: American Humane Association)

Dogs and Your Physical Health

Dogs can also help with some of the more serious symptoms of physical, and often life threatening, problems. Trained dogs can detect when an epileptic is in danger of having a seizure or alert a diabetic when their blood sugar levels are low; extensive, ongoing research continues with regard to a dog’s ability to successfully detect different types of cancer. As an aromatherapist, I find it extremely interesting to note that many dogs have this lifesaving ability because of their heightened sense of smell! Put simply, scientists have established that disease causes subtle changes in the body which releases a different smell; dogs are adept at picking up this scent (source).

Dogs can also help maintain your physical health on a more basic level; dog owners are obliged to take their dogs for a daily walk. In addition, dogs love to play catch with a ball and all of this activity leads to a more active and healthy lifestyle for the dog owner. More passive actions can help your physical health too; the simple act of stroking a dog can help to lower blood pressure.

Dogs and Children

Children that grow up in a dog (or cat) household are healthier than those who don’t; research has shown that children develop less allergies and a stronger immune system if they live with a pet. In addition, children with disorders such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) benefit from owning a dog because it helps them to learn self-esteem and to release excess energy. Children with autism also respond well to dogs as it helps them to deal with sensory integration issues (source: 27 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health).

Dogs and Social Interaction

Dogs are social creatures, and if you are out walking your dog, you can more or less guarantee that your dog will be the instigator in a conversation with anyone that you meet, whether they are also walking the dog or are alone! Dogs engage you with other people and animals and help to keep your brain active and alert in doing so.

Why You Should Own a Dog

Dogs are a responsibility and you should not take the decision to own a dog lightly. However, if you commit yourself to the responsibility, you will be repaid with a lifetime of unconditional love and untold health benefits. Owning a dog keeps you happy and healthy, both in mind and body. Just remember to treat him with the same respect and care that he gives you.


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