Physical Health Benefits of Having a Dog

The Surprising Physical Health Benefits of Having a Dog

In the United States, over 63.4 million households have pet dogs. It’s quite obvious that they’re beloved pets, with cats coming in second with a number of just 42.7 million.

Maybe you’re not sure if you should bring a puppy into your household. Or maybe your family members need some convincing.

In that case, here are all the health benefits of having a dog. By the end of this article, anyone reading will think that owning a pup is a no-brainer!

You’ll Be More Active

Only 24% of adult Americans get sufficient amounts of exercise in their daily lives. This means that 3/4ths of us either get very little exercise or have sedentary lifestyles.

In any case, you’re probably not in the best shape possible. While it’s easy to be lazy when all you have to take care of is yourself, it’ll be tougher to slack off when you have to care for another living being.

For example, it’s easy to postpone a workout at the gym in favor of chilling out with a pizza and a movie. But when you own a dog, you have to walk it daily at least once or twice so it can stretch its leg and eliminate some waste. Just getting up and going for a walk with your pup can be highly beneficial.

Not only that, but dogs will require stimulation to be happy. They’ll want to play fetch with a ball or Frisbee, which can also help you become more active.

These activities can be a lot more fun with a furry friend rather than on your own or with human friends. You’ll find yourself looking forward to the next time you get to go on a walk or toss a ball!

They Provide More Motivation to Be Active

Not only do dogs motivate you to get off the couch to spend time with them, but they also motivate you to do even more.

A study found that dog walkers were more likely to participate in other types of physical activity, such as gardening, sports, or dancing. On average, they got 30 more minutes of exercise than people who don’t own dogs.

As you can see, owning a puppy can be the jumpstart you need to a more active and fulfilling lifestyle.

Having A Dog Decreases Your Chance of Diabetes

It’s true that type 1 diabetes is usually the result of your genetics. But type 2 diabetes may be influenced by your lifestyle and environment. So while you can’t really prevent type 1 diabetes, you can definitely take preventative measures when it comes to type 2 diabetes.

Eating healthy and exercising regularly can help decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. However, owning a dog can help even more.

As we’ve mentioned above, dog owners tend to be more active. Not only that, but they can also improve your emotional well-being. Together, these 2 factors play an important role in warding off diabetes.

Havig A Dog Decreases Your Chance of Cardiovascular Disease

In America, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. Considering that our nation is very overweight and/or obese, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

When you lead a more active lifestyle by walking and playing with your pup, this can help decrease your chance of cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that dog owners have lower sympathetic nervous system activity and increased parasympathetic nervous system activity.

What does this mean? It means your blood pressure recovers quicker after stressful situations and you’ll have lower reactivity to stress.

When you can keep physical stress off your heart, then this will keep it healthier. As a result, you’ll have much better heart health.

Having A Dog Lowers Your Blood Pressure

In the above section, we already covered that owning a puppy can decrease your chance of cardiovascular disease.

But more particularly, being in this demographic can lower your blood pressure. And it’s not just from getting more physical activity in.

There have been studies done that show when someone pets a dog, their blood pressure drops. It’s believed that this phenomenon happens because we have affection towards and bonds with our pets. So it should come as no surprise that petting them would result in a calming effect.

Having A Dog Decreases the Chance of Asthma in Kids

If you have children in the house, then they’ll also reap some physical health benefits of owning a dog.

A study found that if kids are exposed to dogs or farm animals at a young age, they’ll have a lower risk of asthma by age 6. For example, if you have a dog in your household for the first year of your child’s life, they’ll have a 13% lower risk of asthma by the time they go to school.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly why exposure to pets and farm animals at a young age reduces the chance of developing asthma. However, the numbers don’t lie.

It’s suggested that this might be proof that “a little dirt never hurt” and that children should not live in a sterile environment. Early exposure to bacteria and other microbes could facilitate a stronger immune system.

They Can Save You From Danger

If you or a loved one has some sort of disability, then a service dog can save you from physical harm. For example, if you’re blind and/or deaf, your service dog can be your eyes and ears. If there are steps, inclines, holes, or cars coming up, a service dog can help you navigate from one place to another safely.

At home, service dogs can perform tasks for you that’d otherwise be risky. For example, they can fetch items and equipment for you so you don’t have to navigate around your house if you aren’t able-bodied. They can also assist you with balance as you get around so you don’t fall over or trip on anything.

Here are some other ways they can help you stay safe; more importantly, the health issues they can detect for you.

Asthma

There are usually some warning signs right before you have an asthma attack. But at times, they can be so subtle that you aren’t aware of it until it’s a full-blown attack.

A service dog will pick up on those small changes and let you know so you can prepare yourself and use an inhaler as needed.

Seizures

Some service dogs can be trained to detect seizures before they happen. That way, they can lead you somewhere safe where you won’t hurt yourself or cause danger to others when you’re seizing.

In addition, they can wake you up if you become unconscious and also help lead you around afterward when you feel physically weak. If it’s serious enough, service dogs can also seek medical assistance on your behalf.

Low Blood Sugar Levels

As you may already know, dogs have a very acute sense of smell. Service dogs can detect differences in your scent whenever your blood sugar levels become low.Should this happen, your service dog will alert you to take your diabetes medications. If needed, they can also get help from medical professionals.Heart Attacks, Strokes, and Other Cardiovascular Issues

On the same level of blood sugar levels, dogs can detect nuances in your blood pressure and cardiac activity. If they sense anything out of the ordinary, they can immediately alert you so you can get somewhere safe and dial 911 if necessary. These few minutes or hours can literally save your life.

If you feel like you or a loved one would benefit from a service dog, you can always apply to get one.

Help With Autistic Family Members

Often, autistic individuals may suffer from health conditions. However, being on the spectrum means they may struggle to communicate discomfort or other health problems they may be having.

An autism service dog can help your family members manage their health conditions by communicating for them. They can be especially beneficial for children who are still learning how to deal with being autistic and how to communicate better with others.

You’ll Have Fewer Trips to the Doctor

A study found that pet owners who were over the age of 65 had 1.07 fewer doctor visits a year than those who were petless.

What’s even better is if you own a dog (as opposed to a cat or other animals), this number drops even further. Dog owners have 1.29 fewer doctor visits a year than those who don’t have pets.

You’ll Live Longer

Have you heard people say that pet owners live longer? It’s not a myth; it’s actually a fact!

More specifically, dog owners live longer than others who don’t have any pooches in their household. A study found that dog owners have a 24% lower chance of death from any cause.

When you consider all the above health benefits that come with being a dog owner, it’s no wonder that this special group of people has a higher chance of living longer.

Havig A Dog Strengthens Your Mental Health

Although this article is talking about the physical health advantages of having a dog, you have to understand that your mental health plays a big part in your physical health.

Did you know that 30 million adult Americans (or over 18% of the population) have some sort of anxiety disorder? And that in 1 year, 15.7 million adult Americans (or over 6% of the population) have at least 1 major depressive episode?

Of course, it’s normal to go through ups and downs in your life. But sometimes, they can be so debilitating that it majorly affects you.

For instance, people in depressive episodes will commonly stop performing basic hygiene habits. As a result, this can lead to a deterioration of health.

For people with anxiety, they can be so affected that this impacts their cardiovascular health. This can put them more at risk of things like heart attack and stroke.

When you own a dog, this furry friend can help you through both depression and anxiety.

With depression, you’ll be more motivated to get things done and take care of your pet. In addition, they can provide support in some very dark times.

With anxiety, a pet’s companionship can help melt away stress. In turn, this can relieve stress on your cardiovascular system and decrease your chance of developing issues.

Battling the Effects of Loneliness

It may sound strange, but it’s true: loneliness kills. People over 70 who are isolated and lonely have a 30% higher chance of dying than those who have an active social life.

As we get older, it gets harder and harder to socialize and many of us end up living alone in either our own homes or senior communities. Loneliness can take its toll on our mental health, which can cause our overall health to deteriorate.

You don’t need to be a senior citizen to feel the detrimental effects of loneliness. But it can easily be fixed by becoming a pet owner.

While dogs certainly can’t replace human interaction, they can definitely provide some companionship and be a source of happiness. This can also motivate you to take better care of yourself so you can be there for your puppy.

Reap the Health Benefits of Having a Dog

Now that you see all the health benefits of having a dog, surely this has convinced you to get a new pet for your family.

Or maybe you needed some backup to convince your loved ones that a puppy can be a great addition to your household. In that case, show them this article and they can’t deny all the benefits of dog ownership.

In the end, you’ll most likely end up with a new furry best friend. Do you or someone in your household need a service dog? Then get in touch with us now.