Five Well-Documented Benefits of Dog Ownership
- More Exercise – Anyone who has owned a dog has seen that pleading look –the anticipatory tail wag next to the door, the gentle whine or bark – all carefully constructed manipulation tools your dog uses to get you to take them for a walk so they can pee on everything that smells mildly interesting and terrorize the neighborhood squirrels. The National Institute of Health and Welfare claims that dog owners are more likely to get 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week.1 A study conducted in Minneapolis in 2011 found that dog-owners get about 15 minutes more of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.2
- Healthy Heart and Weight – The Centers for Disease control and the National Institute of Health have both found that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and levels of triglycerides (fatty acids associated with saturated and unsaturated fats). Another NIH study found that dog owners who walked their dogs were far less likely to be obese than non-dog owners, or dog owners that had someone else walking their dog for them. And research indicates that pet owners recovering from heart attacks tend to have better recovery rates.1
- Increased Social Interaction – Walking a dog down a busy street can spark conversations and social interaction, which is good for human mental stimulation. Training classes, dog parks, and even patios can serve as social venues for dogs and their owners. Dogs provide a common denominator for people getting to know each other. And social avenues aren’t limited to the real world – Dogster.com, and PetPop.com are both social networking sites where owners can swap photos, tips, and advice.1
- Reduced Risk of Allergies – A pediatrician at the University of Madison-Wisconsin found that having a pet in the home while growing up can actually reduce a child’s chances of developing animal allergies and respiratory problems later in life by 33 percent. It’s also been demonstrated that dog owners and their families have lower instances of eczema.1, 3
- Happiness and Stress Reduction – Companionship and exercise are contributing factors to an overall greater sense of well-being and happiness experienced by dog owners. Pet therapy programs are becoming increasingly common, especially for those suffering long-term illness and elder care fields. It’s been demonstrated that pet-facilitated therapy programs can increase people’s sociability and levels of self-care.4 And for the rest of us, dealing with the stresses of daily life, it’s hard not to smile and relax when you walk through the door after a tough day when greeted with the unconditional love and enthusiastically wagging tail of man’s best friend.
1 Sarah Grace McCandless, “Top 5 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet.” AnimalPlanet.com [http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/benefits-of-pets.htm] Accessed 8/20/2014.
2 “Kids with Dogs Exercise More” LiveScience.com, Feb. 8, 2011 [http://www.livescience.com/35458-teens-dogs-exercise-more.html] Accessed 8/20/2014.
3 Deborah Enos, “4 ways owning a dog can make you healthier.” FoxNews.com [http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/08/04/4-ways-owning-dog-can-make-healthier] Accessed 8/20/2014.
4 Brandi-Ann Uyemura, “The Truth About Animal-Assisted Therapy.” PsychCentral.com [http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-truth-about-animal-assisted-therapy/00010295] Accessed 8/20/2014.
Iris Tse, “7 Surprising Health Benefits of Dog Ownership.” Nov. 30, 2012, LiveScience.com [http://www.livescience.com/35463-seven-surprising-health-benefits-dog-ownership-110209.html] Accessed 8/20/2014.