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The Health Benefits of Having a Canine Companion

The Health Benefits of Having a Canine Companion

Everybody loves dogs. They are great companions that provide unconditional love and protection for their human families. But scientists have reported some additional good news: having a dog is good for your health!

What are the health benefits of having a dog?

Dogs alleviate stress

According to a study done with 101 children ages 7 to 12, children respond better to stress with their dogs present than with their parents or no support figures. This proves that they are effective socio-emotional support for those under stress.

They are good for your heart health

Having a dog will definitely make you and your heart happy. While there is no literal or direct connection between a dog and a person’s cardiovascular system, various studies have shown that owning a dog can boost a person’s heart health in several ways.

One study showed that owning a dog can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dog owners tend to get more exercise than non-dog owners when they go out for walks and/or play with their pets, thus making their hearts stronger. Also, petting a dog triggers the release of “happy hormones” like oxytocin and serotonin. These can help lower a person’s blood pressure.

A study on dog ownership and survival found that the all-cause mortality rate is 24 percent lower for dog owners than it is for people without canine companions. Moreover, a dog owner’s risk of dying after a heart attack is 65 percent lower, while the risk of dying from a cardiovascular illness is reduced by 31 percent.

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Dogs help you maintain a healthy weight

Like humans, dogs need a good amount of daily exercise. Pet owners should take the dog out for a walk or playtime for about 30 minutes to 2 hours a day. This can help you stay active and fit, too.

Results from a study show that pet dogs play an important role in increasing the physical activity of their owners. The study also believes that this can have a communal effect. When more canine owners in the same community walk their dogs most days of the week, it will result in a more physically fit neighborhood.

They make you more sociable

Research shows that having a dog improves human-to-human relationships. It may not seem like it, but dogs definitely make you more sociable. People tend to approach others when they are with their dogs, as pets can make a person seem less intimidating. Dogs are also good conversation starters since pet owners tend to talk about their animal companions.

They can prevent accidents and injuries

Service dogs have been protecting and guiding people with disabilities since the 1920s. For people with impaired vision, service dogs act as their eyes and help them walk safely without getting into an accident.

Dogs can also protect people with seizures and anxiety attacks from potential harm during their episodes. According to research, a canine nose can smell upcoming seizures and anxiety attacks. This is because their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than that of humans.

Dogs can detect certain diseases

A dog’s sense of smell is undoubtedly one of their best qualities. Usually, dogs are present in airports and other public spaces to ensure that there are no explosives or other illegal items in the area. But did you know that some dogs are also trained to detect diseases?

Disease-smelling dogs undergo training to hone their sense of smell when detecting certain diseases like cancer and diabetes in humans. Dogs can recognize certain illnesses by smelling volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are present in a person’s blood, saliva, breath, and sweat.

Key takeaways

Dogs are definitely man’s best friend. Not only do they provide good company, dogs are good for your health as well. A lot of studies have shown that there are several positive effects that a dog has on its owner. We thought that dogs were only something that we needed to take care of, but they were taking care of us all this whole time!

Learn more about Stress Management, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Effects of Pet Dogs on Children’s Perceived Stress and Cortisol Stress Response https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5400290/ Accessed October 8, 2020 Dog Ownership Associated with Longer Life, Especially Among Heart Attack and Stroke Survivors https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191008083121.htm Accessed October 8, 2020 Understanding Dog Owners’ Increased Levels of Physical Activity: Results from RESIDE https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2156050/ Accessed October 8, 2020 Having a Dog Can Help Your Heart- Literally https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/having-a-dog-can-help-your-heart--literally Accessed October 8, 2020 Get Healthy, Get a Dog: The Health Benefits of Canine Companionship https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/get-healthy-get-a-dog Accessed October 8, 2020 The Health Benefits of Having a Dog https://theheartfoundation.org/2018/03/09/the-health-benefits-of-having-a-dog/ Accessed October 8, 2020 8 Science-Based Benefits of Having a Dog https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/8-science-based-benefits-dog/ Accessed October 8, 2020 Pets Can Help Their Humans Create Friendships, Find Social Support https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/pets-can-help-their-humans-create-friendships-find-social-support-201505067981 Accessed October 8, 2020
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Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao Updated Dec 16, 2020
Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, M.D.