Did you know that canines may lower the risk of you having heart diseases? If you own one, you're probably enjoying the health benefits of owning a dog without noticing it.
Cuddling with your dog work wonders on your heart and overall health and well-being.
And it's not just an assumption because it's backed by science and various studies conducted over the decades.
In this article, we'll talk about:
- how owning a dog can improve your heart and overall health
- what several studies say about the health benefits of owning a dog
- and how can you keep your canine companion healthy in return
So, join us as we rediscover the scientifically proven health benefits of having a furry companion.
Without further ado, let's get right into it.
7 Health Benefits of Owning a Dog (for Adults)
A national survey showed that most pet owners believe that companionship, love, and affection are the main benefits of owning a pet.
Dogs have this magical spell that can brighten up every dog owner's day.
But more than that, they can give you a sense of security and shower you with affection that decreases loneliness.
But owning a dog provides more profound health benefits to owners, according to science.
Here are the 7 practical benefits of dog ownership to your cardiovascular, joint, and mental health.
Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Owning a Dog
Dogs are called man's best friends for a reason — aside from the companionship they give, they bring a lot of happiness to their humans.
But did you know that having a dog is literally good for the heart?
Here are two ways dog owners benefit from cuddling and playing with dogs.
Decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Aside from encouraging our brain to produce hormones that can make us happy, dogs also do wonders for our hearts.
A study that involved 240 married couples revealed that dog owners had lower heart rates and blood pressure than non-pet owners.
Furthermore, another study about dog ownership and cardiovascular health backs the research previously mentioned.
It stated that dog owners were more to report physical activity and diet, and glucose at an ideal level than non-pet owners.
They also reported smoking at a poor level, which results in higher Cardiovascular Health scores.
And despite having similar body mass index (BMI) and socioeconomic backgrounds, pet owners had considerably lower systolic blood pressures than non-pet owners.
That's based on Australian research of 5741 participants who attended a free screening clinic.
Better recovery from heart attacks
One of the main health benefits of owning a dog is it helps people recover from heart attacks.
The study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, which involved 421 adults, provides proof that it's true.
Results showed that dog owners had a better one-year survival rate following a heart attack than non-dog owners.
Physical Health Benefits of Owning a Dog
Aside from making us happy, having a dog can also positively influence and impact our health.
It encourages physical activity and prevents obesity
Another significant health benefit of owning a dog is it prevents obesity and encourages physical activity.
If you have a dog, you're likely to be more active than non-dog owners since even the laziest breeds, commonly referred to as ‘couch potatoes,' need regular exercise.
Having a 30-minute walk with your fido in your daily routine can keep your body moving.
And playing with him outdoors like the game of fetch can help burn your excess fats.
That, in turn, lowers your risk of being obese.
Researchers discovered that dog walking correlates to lower body mass index and less frequent doctor visits for older people.
Additionally, a separate study of about 2,000 adults showed that dog owners who walked their dogs had lower obesity rates.
They're also more physically active than non-pet owners.
Joint Health Benefit of Owning a Dog
Since having dogs can encourage owners to become physically fit or at least exercise a few times a week, they're also helping their humans to improve their joint health.
Here's how it works.
Dog owners in their golden years have better mobility
An NIH(National Institutes of Health) research which observed 2,500 adults aged 71-84 also revealed that dog ownership is helping older people.
They discovered that adults who walked their dogs daily had more mobility inside their homes when in their golden years than non-pet owners.
That's because the weight-bearing exercise of walking with a fido can strengthen bones and muscles.
However, dog owners, especially the elderly, must be careful when walking with dogs that tend to jump on them since it could make you lose balance.
Social and Mental Health Benefits of Owning a Dog
If you're suffering from social anxiety, it can be challenging to talk and socialize with others.
On the other hand, people with depression may feel isolated and trapped in deep emotional distress.
But whatever mental distress you're going through now, we're sure the companionship a fido can offer can help you deal with it.
Dogs ease depression and loneliness.
Your bond with your pet can also be a source of emotional support.
Petting a dog and talking to him, walking him, and playing with him can also make you more relaxed.
That explains why pets, especially dogs, can help you deal with and recover from depression.
They can help build connections with others.
People with social anxiety and those who struggle to talk to others can benefit from having a dog too.
Just by walking with your dog in your neighborhood, you'll meet a lot of fellow dog lovers along the way.
Around 44% of Americans own a dog, and most dog owners share something in common: the love for these canine companions.
And this could help build connections and start conversations and consequently boost mental health.
Health Benefits of Owning a Dog for Kids
Like adults, children can also benefit from playing with fidos and gaining an amazing friendship that can help them grow and explore the world.
The advantages of having a dog for kids include the following:
1. Comfort children, especially the autistic ones
According to child psychologists, pets can provide comfort to children and help them develop empathy.
Moreover, dogs can help kids with autism in handling their emotions and dealing with social situations.
Spending quality time with a dog allows them to confront and express their emotions to the dog and its handler.
2. Keeps allergies away
Children exposed to cats or dogs from a young age have a lower risk of acquiring allergies.
Children who grow up with dogs have decreased asthma rates, according to research.
One hypothesis that attempts to explain this is that exposure to the dog's dirt and bacteria, which comes from their fur and paws, helps build their immunity.
3. Alleviates children's stress
Like adults, spending time with a dog can help stressed children or young people ease their stress.
Thus, it can help prevent mental and physical issues from developing.
However, some parents couldn't afford to have a pup in their home.
In that case, therapy dogs can be an excellent alternative.
Kids may cuddle with the dog without having their parents carry the responsibility as dog owners.
Therapy dogs are also helpful in alleviating the stress of students during exam weeks.
That explains why several dog therapy teams visit high schools and colleges often.
4. Helps overcome ADHD's limitations
One of the best health benefits of owning a dog is it can aid children with ADHD to cope and overcome their limits.
Pets like dogs can help them carry out some chores, create a plan and become responsible.
Additionally, kids with ADHD can spend their extra energy when they play with their furry companions.
As a result, it may be easier to fall asleep at night.
A child's connection with a dog is considered unconditional love.
So, aside from having a sense of security, having a dog can also help children with ADHD feel loved and learn about self-esteem.
How Dog Owners Can Make Their Dog Healthy In Return
Now that we know how dogs can make a difference in our hearts and overall health, you'd probably want to keep your furry companion for a longer time and spend more time with them.
If yes, here are some tips on how to keep them in shape and live a longer life:
1.Control the weight
Similar to humans, excess weight in dogs can burden their hearts and lead to several heart conditions.
So, it's imperative to create and implement a diet and exercise plan.
And according to Philip Fox, DVM and American Medical Center's head of cardiology care in New York, you need to work with a vet to ensure the slim-down plan developed was tailored to your vet's breed and size.
With that said, you need to be meticulous with what you feed your dog and the amount of treat you're giving.
Fox explained that people tend to overindulge in table meals and treats.
Furthermore, a recent FDA analysis links grain-free diets with the development of a potentially catastrophic cardiac disease known as canine dilated cardiomyopathy,
And clinical cardiologist and DVM Bruce Kornreich added that dogs on a grain-free diet tend to have bad-looking hearts with thin walls.
It couldn't create enough pressure to propel blood ahead.
This condition is called systolic dysfunction.
It's still unclear why it happens.
But what's clear is dog owners need to be skeptical when choosing the right type of diet for their fido.
2.Visit a vet regularly
Regular veterinarian checkups can detect congenital heart illnesses as well as age-related cardiac disorders, according to Fox.
But some signs indicate an impending heart problem.
If you observe any of the following symptoms in your dog, it would be best to take him to the veterinarian.
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Lung congestion
If you can find a congenital issue early, it will be properly diagnosed.
And if it's treatable and you can seek the appropriate treatment, you'll have the best outcome.
That explains why regular vet visit is crucial for every pet.
3. Protect him from heartworm disease
Heartworm disease that develops on a dog's organ and is spread by mosquitos has been found in every state in the United States.
It causes significant lung damage, heart damage, severe organ damage and can be fatal if not addressed.
Fortunately, you can control it with a once-monthly medication.
Heartworm is avoidable.
Thus all dogs, regardless of where they live in the country, should be tested and put on a heartworm preventative regimen.
As your dog gets older, he becomes prone to diseases such as age-associated mitral valve regurgitation.
This condition, also known as a leaky heart valve, occurs when the heart's mitral valve doesn't close tightly.
So, the blood flows back to the heart.
It can lead to congestive heart failure and “poor outcomes.”
Thus, you need to take your dog in for tests right away if you see your dog taking more than 30 breaths per minute, according to Fox.
Keep in mind that heart failure can develop over 24 hours.
So, consult your vet if you see them breathing more rapidly and with more effort.
Luckily, it is treatable with medication.
Final Conclusion About the Health Benefits of Owning a Dog
Adopting a dog has more health benefits than you've probably imagined.
The happiness and unconditional love they give can be a source of emotional and mental support.
On top of that, it can aid people battling depression to ease their loneliness and reduce cardiovascular diseases.
No wonder why they are widely used in courtrooms, airports, and schools as part of pet therapy programs to help stressed-out people cool down.
So, aside from having a healthy diet, why not try to adopt a dog if you don't have one yet?
You won't just have a health buddy, but you'll also find a long-term companionship that'll last your fido's entire lifetime.