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7 Health Benefits of Having a Dog: Vet Approved Facts

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Ashley Bates

7 Health Benefits of Having a Dog: Vet Approved Facts

VET APPROVED

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg  Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Once upon a time, human beings domesticated canines to help them complete tasks. Some of these pups were tasked with hunting, others with guarding, and a laundry list of other duties. Even though they worked amazingly well at their jobs, modern dogs have a much different prospect list in life.

Dogs are some of the most emotionally intuitive creatures we don’t deserve to know. They shower us with love and affection completely in unwavering loyalty. It’s no surprise that this unconditional love has serious positive impacts on our health.

Science is on our side. We compiled seven proven ways dogs benefit our mind, body, and soul—and we can’t wait to tell you about it.

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The 7 Health Benefits of Having a Dog

1. Having a Dog Around from Birth Helps Lessen Allergy Risks

It can be really heartbreaking for some folks to figure out that the dog is the cause for their suffering. We have gone so far as to accommodate the canine-human relationship and create hypoallergenic dog breeds. While no dog is ever 100% hypoallergenic, we’ve sure tried to make it happen.

If you know someone who has had problems with allergies, the only thing you can do from this point forward is to expose your future children to pets as soon as possible.

Some research suggests that the earlier you were exposed to dander allergies triggered by cats and dogs, the less likely you are to be affected. This starts in childhood. So, if you are bringing any new babies on board, having a pet in the home will decrease their risk of having severe symptoms.

A cute puppy beside a cute baby
Image Credit: SarahRichterArt, Pixabay

2. Dogs Help with Chronic (and Mild) Loneliness

If you’ve ever loved a dog, you know just how much they can be equal or better company than some people you know. There’s nothing like relying on your dog after a heartbreak or cheerfully romping around the house after work.

This companion gives life purpose and equal partnership of affection and understanding. People can count on their dogs to be loyal, constant parts of their life, health permitting. If a person has a dog to come home to or share their life with, they are less likely to feel isolated.

This can significantly help with people with depression, confined people, and older folks who can’t quite get around like they used to. Pets can really bring out the light in someone, and dogs might be the best for the job.


3. Dogs Reduce Anxiety

Have you ever been in a complete frenzy, and your dog will come to comfort you and offer you peace? This is no accident. Dogs can feel when our emotions are elevated, and console us accordingly. Some dogs are naturally more inclined to do this than others.

Dogs can sense serious changes in our moods. If they can tell you are erratic or anxious, they might have a naturally calming effect, willing to stand by you through this challenging emotional time.

Research has shown that you can lower your cortisol stress hormone just by petting a dog. Combating anxiety, it releases the hormone oxytocin in your brain. This is the same chemical that bonds mothers to their babies.

If you’ve never owned a dog before, you might not understand the magnitude people feel for their canine companions. So, when you say that you feel like your dog is your son or daughter, you aren’t joking. It’s the same type of bonding experience.

Dogs can make you feel safe and loved in the same breath. There’s nothing that quite eases anxiety like knowing your dearest friend who’s going to be there for you through thick and thin is wagging their tail beside you.

woman hugging dog
Image By: Christin Lola, Shutterstock

4. Dogs Reduce the Risk of Heart-Related Problems

Heart-related issues are some of the most common, affecting about 20.1 million adults. It is a severe epidemic that can affect males and females but tends to be higher in men.

Isn’t it amazing to know that dogs actually help reduce the risk of heart problems? A study showed that dog owners are 31% less likely to die from heart-related issues than people who don’t have dogs. Interestingly, people with previous heart-related problems had a 65% reduced risk of death.

So, when you say that your dog has your heart, melts your heart, or any other effect you might describe, just know that they are, indeed, impacting your heart health.


5. Dogs Promote Exercise

Dogs require quite a bit of exercise per day. We need plenty of it, too. Some very high-energy breeds require over 2 hours of exercise, while less active dogs can exercise as little as 45 minutes a day. It really just depends on your dog’s personality and activity level.

Dogs still promote healthy exercise, even if you have a rather relaxed pooch who doesn’t get up and run around a lot. Getting up to take your dog out to the bathroom or on a jog around the park is essential.

Because they need this interaction, you get out and start releasing some endorphins too. It does both of you good to get some fresh air.

woman jogging with golden retriever dog
Image By: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

6. Dogs Can Make You More Appealing to the Opposite Sex

If you’re a single person, you might really enjoy this one. Having a dog around you when you’re out on the town makes you more desirable to potential mates.

Studies show that dogs make people appear to have certain qualities: responsibility, trustworthiness, and empathy. Regarding dating sites, women seem to be more drawn to men with dogs in their profile pictures than those without.

So, if you’re getting a bit lonely and need a wingman, ask your dog to help you out, and snap a picture.


7. Dogs Help Those in Need by Offering Acts of Service

Dogs are the real workers of the world. If they’re not helping us with duties, they are helping us emotionally. Dogs walk hand-in-hand, always loyal and ready to be at our sides at the snap of a finger. We can train dogs to do some pretty outlandish things.

Some are on certain rescue teams to save people in dire situations. Others can sense a diabetic attack coming on and warn their handler. There is a difference between service and emotional support animals.

Service dogs have had extensive training from professionals to complete a specific task. For example, a service dog might be trained to lead someone who is vision impaired. Another dog might help emotionally ease the sometimes challenging symptoms that can come along with autism.

However, emotional support animals don’t have any professional training. They simply exist as they are and do an excellent job doing it. These dogs are companion animals at heart, helping their owner

through the thickest of the thick.

girl hugging her pyschiatric service dog
Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Let’s face it; dogs are just terrific. They have transformed the lives of people all across the globe with their devoted companionship and loving affection. Most would agree that we don’t even deserve them.

Our dogs are there for us sometimes when those of our own species fail us, when we go through heartbreak, and when we’re having the time of our lives. The only negative thing about loving a dog is that we don’t get to love them long enough in this life.

 

Featured Image Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

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