Bringing a dog into your life is a wonderful decision to make. A special furry friend can give you endless joy, love, companionship and fulfillment. But there is another huge benefit to owning a dog that you may not have considered. What if we were to tell you about the numerous health benefits of owning a dog – would this persuade you to take the leap? We think it might!
When you give a dog a happy life, they will give so much back. No matter how old you are or the breed of dog you have, owning a pup could do wonders for your health – both mental and physical.
So let’s dive into the incredible health benefits of owning a dog!
Dogs need regular exercise to keep their bodies and minds in tip-top condition, and so do humans. According to NHS guidelines, adults between the ages of 19 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week and be physically active every day.
Now let’s be realistic – it’s not always easy to keep up with these guidelines and unsurprisingly, not all of us do the recommended amount of physical activity!
However, a study conducted in 2019 found that dog owners were four times more likely to do the recommended amount of exercise than people without dogs. Getting out and about with your dog is a great excuse to do regular exercise and keep your body fit and healthy. Even a short and leisurely stroll with your four-legged friend is enough to get your blood pumping and muscles moving, which is incredibly good for you physically and mentally.
A Healthy Heart
When you make room in your heart for a special canine soul, there is a significant chance your heart will be much healthier!
Scientific research shows that dog owners are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, which is a common cause of heart disease and heart attacks. Healthy blood pressure can also be linked back to other health-related benefits of owning a dog, such as improved fitness and lower stress levels.
What’s more, as a dog owner, you are more likely to have healthy cholesterol levels and lower quantities of triglyceride (a type of fat stored in your blood). High cholesterol and triglyceride levels can lead to dangerous heart problems.
Whether in the countryside or the city, dog walks are great for toning and building muscle. Going out for a walk with your four-legged friend can be a brilliant full-body workout, strengthening muscles in your legs, core and upper body.
There are many benefits to keeping your muscles in good condition, including a reduced risk of developing arthritis plus improved balance, coordination and circulation. Using your muscles on a regular basis can also help to protect you from injury.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Having a dog is a very effective way to keep your weight in check. When you are responsible for an active creature who needs regular exercise, you’ll have no choice but to get out and about, keep that heart rate up, use your muscles, and ultimately, burn calories.
Walking a dog is a physical activity that everyone can do. Unless your pup is particularly cheeky and tends to take you for a walk rather than the other way around, you are generally free to set your own speed and stride. You can also choose where you walk, so you might opt for a less strenuous route (on flat terrain, for example) and build up to routes that are more physically challenging.
Another bonus is that this is a free form of exercise; you won’t need to pay a fee or invest in expensive equipment or clothes.
Lower Risk of Stroke
Due to many of the health benefits we’ve already discussed, owning a dog significantly lowers your risk of suffering a stroke – a dangerous condition that occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.
Combined with other more general contributing factors such as age and lifestyle choices, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity are all factors that place people at higher risk of having a stroke. Science tells us that owning a dog can help to prevent some of these health issues, which is good news, as it therefore reduces the risk of a stroke occurring.
Although it’s perfectly normal to feel stressed sometimes, suffering from too much stress can be detrimental to your health. Common symptoms of stress include a rapid pulse, chest pain, irregular breathing, stomach problems and headaches. Your emotional wellbeing and cognitive abilities also suffer when you’re feeling stressed, and most sufferers find that it’s a difficult cycle to break free from.
All dog lovers will agree that spending time with a loving, gentle and adorable pup is enough to calm you down, manage your anxiety and help you to overcome challenging times. It’s unsurprising then that dog owners are less likely to suffer from debilitating stress, and when they do need to cope with a stressful situation, having a dog nearby can help to keep symptoms at bay.
When you own a dog, spending quality time with them, playing, walking, having a cuddle or just being near one another can significantly lift your mood and leave you feeling lighter and happier. This is because interacting with a dog that you love actually has a physical effect on the body, boosting ‘happy hormones’ including endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. In other words, all of your body’s natural feel-good chemicals!
Because of the wonderful effect that dogs have on our mood, it’s no wonder that dog owners are less likely to experience depression – a serious mental illness where sufferers can experience low moods for long periods of time. So, by bringing a four-legged friend into your life, chances are they will help to make it a happy one.
There is a school of thought in the medical world that suggests that early exposure to allergens may decrease the risk of children developing allergies. Studies conducted in Sweden indicated that having a family dog reduced a child’s chances of developing the inflammatory disease asthma. Crucially, the studies revealed that babies living with a family dog throughout their first year were 13% less likely to suffer from asthma. How incredible is that?
Want to Give Something Back?
Has this article convinced you to bring a dog into your life? If it has, we hope that you will consider adopting a rescue dog!
Need some help getting prepared?
Here at DoggyLottery, we are passionate about supporting rescue dogs. Research by the Dogs Trust revealed that 130,000 dogs are being abandoned each year in the UK, but we fear this number has risen astronomically as a result of the pandemic.
Adopting a rescue dog is one of the most meaningful and impactful ways in which you can support rescue dogs and the rescue centres that care for them. Becoming a dog owner can bring so much joy and love into your life, and you can enjoy incredible science-backed health benefits too!
If you are as passionate about rescue dogs as we are, you can also play our fun weekly dog lottery game. When you play the DoggyLottery, you could be in with the chance of winning a brilliant cash prize, all while supporting the vital work of dog rescue centres. Thank you for your support!