Our dogs are often beloved companions but there are some surprising benefits to having them around other than just having a pet. Our canines bring with them some impressive health benefits just from sharing our home with them.
Wondering what they are? Read on and we’ll share the good news about making sure that you’ve got the rundown on how a dog can positively impact your health.
1. Improved Immune System
Our immune systems are essentially powered by exposure. With a dog in our lives, we find that there’s constant exposure to low levels of bacteria that we may not normally come in contact with. They may also bring in allergens like pollen at low levels, depending on where they’ve been romping around outside.
While this may be an issue for people with autoimmune issues, it’s actually a bonus for healthy individuals. These low levels help to strengthen our immune system in the long run.
Many people use hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, and other methods to clean themselves. While these methods are great for some of the riskier actions we take in our lives, overuse can cause our immune system to falter. It requires exercise just like our bodies and minds.
Dogs definitely provide that little bit needed to keep our immune systems in the right shape to keep us healthy.
As a bonus, children who grow up with dogs actually have lower incidences of asthma and allergies as they grow into adulthood. This is likely due to regular exposure to the low levels of irritants that a dog brings in with them.
2. Lowered Incidence of Depression and Anxiety
Dogs, even those who aren’t necessarily being used as service animals, are associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression. The cause isn’t precisely known, at least in the studied sense, but it makes sense to anyone who’s had one.
A dog provides companionship, decreasing the amount of isolation sometimes felt by people. Their company also provides us with unconditional love. Your dog doesn’t care if you’re a bit wiggy, it just wants to be with you most of the time.
They also help provide people with a sense of purpose. A lack of purpose is one of the most frequent problems in those suffering from low mental wellbeing and just knowing that it’s time to feed, water, and walk the dog can make a huge difference in your daily thoughts.
3. Keep You Fit
For those who don’t get a lot of exercise during the day, a dog can be a wonder. Just walking them for the twenty minutes or so a day most breeds require is quite a bit of activity for those with sedentary jobs and hobbies.
If you’re willing to take things particularly far then a working dog like a Border Collie makes a great running and adventure buddy.
The sky’s the limit on this one. Particularly athletic breeds can often outpace their masters and encourage a bit of friendly competition. Besides, it also means you don’t necessarily need to find a human workout partner for early morning or late-night workouts.
4. Increased Opportunities for Socialization
Socializing with other humans is vital to our health. It helps to decrease stress and isolation is one of the symptoms of many mental disorders like depression. Dogs can help quite a bit.
People are much more likely to stop and talk to someone with a dog, after all. At dog parks, it’s not uncommon for owners to have lengthy conversations with each other while their dogs play and generally have a good time.
For seniors, they’re actually recommended for just this purpose. Those without nearby family may find themselves at a loss for ways to interact with people. A dog offers just that reason.
But the truth is that most people simply experience a lot more friendly interactions with strangers when they’ve got a canine in their life.
5. Improved Heart Health and Longevity
Interestingly, owning a canine and regularly interacting with it is associated with better heart health.
It actually seems to work across the board. There are improved triglyceride levels, better blood pressure, and fewer fatal incidents like heart attacks.
The reasons still aren’t perfectly clear but the study was extremely wide, covering 3.4 million people so the effects are hard to contest in the long run.
Oddly, dog owners just seemed to have fewer fatal incidents in general, even accounting for changes in socioeconomic status, smoking, and other factors that are sometimes problematic.
The effects were particularly pronounced in those who lived alone.
What does that mean? Owning a dog seems to be associated with both better heart health and overall longer life. As if you needed more reasons to love your dog’s presence.
6. Adding Structure and Purpose to Your Life
Having a dog can help to add some structure and a sense of purpose to your life. While everything may be falling apart otherwise, our pets still need to be taken care of.
The truth is that many people have trouble finding some real level of purpose in their lives. Without that sense of purpose, it’s hard to gain a good footing. When our pets provide us with unconditional love in exchange for a bit of tasty nourishment, water, and affection it’s hard to deny the mood-boosting benefits.
Dogs and Our Health
Dogs are amazing animals. They love humans, serve useful functions within our society, and are a central portion of many people’s lives. They also help us with a surprising array of benefits to our health and the results are both scientifically backed and extremely effective in the end.
So, if you were on the fence about getting a dog… why not take the above factors into account as well. It may just be the best decision you’ve ever made!
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