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How dogs help improve your physical and mental health

Wayne Whitehurst October 30, 2019

There’s no denying that the UK is a nation of pet lovers. Around a quarter of all households own at least one dog, and it’s easy to see why. Dogs are loyal, loving and lots of fun to be around. But, are you aware that they can also do amazing things for your physical and mental health?

Physical Benefits

Research has found a number of physical benefits of having a dog. Here are some of them:

Dogs Keep You Active

Dog owners won’t be surprised to hear that their four-legged friends help to keep them active. It’s a rare dog that doesn’t love to go for walkies, whatever the weather, and that means you have to put your shoes on and head out too.

Studies have shown that older people who have a dog tend to have lower BMIs than those who do not. They also visit the GP less and do more physical activity in general.

The stronger the bond between human and dog, the more walking the human is likely to do too!

Dogs are Great for Cardiovascular Health

Looking after your dog, whether you’re heading off to buy his favourite wet dog food, chasing him around the garden or going on walkies, means that you’re very active and being active is good for your heart.

According to the American Heart Association, having a pet dog reduced your chances of getting cardiovascular disease or having a heart attack or stroke. This is not only due to the increased activity, as mentioned above, but also because petting, hugging and playing with dogs releases stress-reducing hormones that can help your body and mind to relax.

Dogs Combat Loneliness

Loneliness is a major cause of poor mental health. Humans are sociable animals and we need to feel a connection with other living things to be mentally healthy. Having a dog around is a great way to help with this. Of course, when you have a dog, more people approach you in the street or park for a chat too.

Dogs Protect Against Allergies

Some studies suggest that exposing babies and children to dogs and other pets at the earliest possible opportunity will help to stave off common allergies and allergy-based illnesses such as asthma and hayfever. A lot of people worry about having a dog because they could cause allergies, but they are just as, if not more, likely to help children avoid allergies too!

Prevent Depression

Depression is at epidemic levels right now. So many people are suffering that it is unreal. One thing that has been shown to help alleviate and even prevent the onset of depression is dog ownership. 

If you own a dog, you are less likely to become seriously depressed in the first place, and if you do suffer from the illness, you are likely to be able to manage it far better with the help of your four-legged friend.

Dogs are wonderful creatures for their company and loyalty alone, but when you add in the benefits they bring to your physical and mental health, dog ownership starts to seem like a no-brainer for anyone who can give a dog a loving home.