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How Dogs Help You Stay Healthy

by Megha Anand

Dogs often referred to as “man’s best friend,” have been the subject of numerous scientific studies investigating how they can improve our well-being. In this Spotlight, we’ll go over how your friendly dog can benefit your health in general.

Humans and dogs have most likely shared a special bond of friendship and mutual support since at least the Neolithic period — but why has this bond lasted so long?

Dogs, on the other hand, are — and may have always been — truly valued companions, renowned for their loyalty and seemingly endless willingness to put a smile on their owners’ faces.

How they contribute to your wellbeing:

Lower stress: Studies have shown that petting a dog or cat can increase oxytocin levels and decrease cortisol levels, resulting in a more relaxed state. In addition, scientists have confirmed that dogs benefit from being petted in the same way that humans do. Dogs have been brought into airports, nursing homes, and even school campuses in recent years to help relieve stress and pressure.

Heart health: A study from the 1980s discovered that touching or even talking to a dog can lower blood pressure. Another study published in 2002 discovered that married couples who owned a pet had significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure levels than people who did not own a pet. Furthermore, a report published in 2003 claims that heart attack survivors who own pets are eight times more likely to live another year if they own a pet—this study confirmed similar findings by researcher Erika Friedmann in the 1980s.

More active lifestyles: Need to increase your steps or lose a few pounds? Getting a dog could be the motivation you need. According to the findings, 60% of dog owners who walked their pets on a regular basis met the recommended criteria for regular exercise. “There appears to be a strong link between owning and walking a dog and attaining higher levels of physical activity, even after accounting for the actual dog walking,” said the study’s lead author, epidemiologist Mathew Reeves. Of course, you should choose a dog that fits your lifestyle; for example, a very active dog would not be a good fit for a more sedentary family.

Fewer feelings of loneliness: Dog owners are less lonely because they feel obligated to get out of the house to walk their dogs and because the presence of a dog attracts attention. Dog owners are less dissatisfied with their social, physical, and emotional states.

Fewer allergies: According to the Department of Pediatrics, infants raised in dog-friendly households are far less likely to develop allergies. According to the department, “children who had a dog at home as newborns were much less likely to have allergic dermatitis (12% versus 27%) and wheezing (19% versus 36%) by their third birthday.” Additionally, researchers are investigating whether bacteria in a dog’s mouth have a probiotic-like effect on humans after licking their owners.

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