1. Improve heart health
Dogs don’t just fill your heart; they actually make it stronger. Studies show that having a canine companion is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health and fewer heart attacks.
2. Keep you fit and active
Health experts recommend that adults get about 2 hours and 30 minutes worth of moderate exercise per week. Dog owners are way more likely to hit that goal.
3. Help you lose weight
Want to drop a few pounds? Grab Fido and get hoofing. Research has repeatedly found that daily dog walks help you lose weight, since they force you to into moderate physical activity for 10, 20, and even 30 minutes at a time.
4. Improve your social life
As we age, it becomes harder to get out and meet people. Not so for dog owners. Researchers have found that about 40 percent make friends more easily, possibly because the vast majority—4 in 5, according to one British study—speak with other dog owners during walks.
5. Reduce stress
There’s a reason therapy dogs are so effective: Spending just a few minutes with a pet can lower anxiety and blood pressure, and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurochemicals that play big roles in calm and wellbeing.
7. Stave off depression
It’s widely believed that dog owners are less prone to depression than the dog-less, largely because they seem to help in so many other areas of health and wellbeing.
8. Prevent grandkids’ allergies
Back in the olden days (the ‘90s), experts believed having a dog in your home contributed to children’s allergies. Fortunately, recent research shows just the opposite is true: Dogs and cats actually lower a child’s chance of becoming allergic to pets—up to 33 percent, according to a 2004 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
9. Reduce doctor visits
If you’re over 65 and own a pet, odds are you seek medical help about 30 percent less often than people who don’t have a pet.
10. Battle disease and injury
It’s believed that owning a dog can help detect, treat, and manage a variety of illnesses and debilitations. A few examples:
- Some dogs have been trained to sniff out skin, kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer, among others.
- Service dogs are known to benefit people with everything from traumatic brain injury to autism to rheumatoid arthritis, increasing mobility and promoting independence.
- Alzheimer’s patients are soothed by dogs, whose companionship also seems to mitigate emotional flare-ups and aggression.