How a pet dog can help boost your health
Dogs have always been fantastic companions, but they're also great for your health. Were you aware that owning a dog provides owners with a number of positive health benefits?
Keep reading to learn how your dog can help lower your blood cholesterol levels, maintain mental wellness, reduce the number of your visits to the doctor and increase recovery times after illness.
1) A Healthy Body: Both Cambridge University and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) have published studies that showed pet owners have fewer visits to the doctor than non-owners and a generally superior sense of health. In addition, Medicare conducted a study of its elderly users that showed those who were dog owners visited the doctor less than their non-dog-owning counterparts.
2) A Strong Heart: Studies have shown that dog owners, as a whole, have lower cholesterol rates and blood pressure than non-owners. Both cholesterol and blood pressure are crucial to your cardiovascular health and can drastically affect your risk - positively or negatively - for heart disease and stroke.
One study from the New York State University used high-pressure stockbrokers as its subjects and showed that not only did stroking a pet reduce their blood pressure, but that reduction continued even when the animal wasn't there. Their conclusion? Pet ownership can lead to a sustained lower blood pressure.
In another study by the Baker Institute of Australia, pet owners were shown to have lower cholesterol levels and lower levels of triglycerides – a type of blood fat – in their blood than non-owners. Again, high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol can lead to heart disease and stroke.
3) A Healthy Mind: People who own dogs have also been shown to have better mental health than their non-dog-owning counterparts. A steady companion provides unconditional love, affection, a stabilizing presence, and a sense of responsibility that can be crucial to mental well-being
In fact, another study by UCLA found that of 1800 AIDS patients, those who did not own a pet were more than twice as likely to cite symptoms of depression. A study by the University of Pennsylvania showed that Animal Assisted Therapy can help with ADHD symptoms, Alzheimer's, and developmental disabilities. Dogs are also used with a number of mental health patients to ward off depression and episodic bouts.
4) A Speedy Recovery: One study at the City Hospital in New York reported that pet ownership so drastically affected survival rates that it surpassed the presence of friends or family in terms of impact.
There's a reason many hospitals and nursing homes allow pet visitation along with special animal therapy programs – it's been proven that patients will respond more easily to treatment and have a higher survival rate when therapeutically engaged with an animal.
Of course, an animal is more than a crutch or a form of therapy – it's also a wonderful and loving friend that requests little more than a little attention and meals. If you're looking for a companion, though, consider the health benefits and joy that a dog can offer into the life of someone who simply needs a reliable friend.