Owning a dog may be a huge responsibility, but the act pays dividends in companionship, joy, and even health! The following article discusses ways being a dog owner can improve your wellness and mood.
Dogs make us happy – that’s one of the main reasons they were bred. They serve us, demand we play with them, tune into our ailments and appear to offer compassion. (Though they’re probably wondering if you’re well enough to take them for their walk!)
The positive effects of dog ownership aren’t only anecdotal, either. A recent study conducted in Sweden found that the research subjects who owned dogs lived an average of 20 percent longer than those who didn’t own dogs. (I’m hoping that number grows exponentially depending on how many dogs one owns!) While the study didn’t determine exactly why dogs have this effect, the following facts may help explain the phenomenon.
- Having a dog encourages social behavior and engagement. Responsible dog ownership dictates that dogs be walked regularly, and the act of walking dogs brings you out into the world and among other people. Loneliness is one of the most devastating psychological conditions, and it can render you susceptible to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. It is believed to affect between one-quarter and one-half of people in the United States. Dog ownership can help alleviate feelings of isolation.
- Having a dog forces you to exercise! Dogs don’t walk themselves! While certain breeds require more intense exercise than others (unless you want a perfectly round and sickly whippet, you’ll need to give them long walks daily), all dogs will need you to get up and walk them at least once per day. This is good for your cardiovascular health and weight management.
- Having a dog makes you happy. It’s been found that being around dogs enhances feelings of relaxation and reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol, helping to improve your mood.
- Having a dog improves your immune response. Dog ownership has been known to facilitate the release of a chemical called oxytocin, which supports the immune system and even spurs feelings of contentment.
- A dog may rescue you during a crime or catastrophic event. While not every dog has the makings of a little hero, dogs have been known to rescue their owners in diverse perilous circumstances.
If you want your dog to live long enough to lengthen and enrich your life, you’ll want to make sure to keep them in tip-top shape. Dogs can succumb to a variety of conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and DCM. Zignature, Blue Buffalo and Nutrish are great pet food options that can help keep your dog energized and healthy.
I’m a doggie blogger and proud pet parent of two gorgeous rescue mutts, who may save me from a burning building, but could only prevent a robbery by licking the perpetrator to death.