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Health Benefits of Owning A Dog | Research Backed

Is this fur ball that follows me around like a shadow, constantly looking at me with those puppy dog eyes no matter what age they are, really that healthy for me? Routine situations like leaving them at home is an everyday mini heartbreak.Don’t even start us on holidays where we try and think of any possible way to bring them with us and instead feel guilty as hell when they give us that aforementioned puppy eyes when we slowly close the door behind us, hearts breaking ever so slightly again. 

We all know that’s just because we love them so much! Read on…

Rosalie Dench

Rosalie Dench | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine

Rosalie is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Rosalie click here

Connect with RosalieLinkedIn

It is a popularly held belief that dogs make our lives better, especially if you ask a dog owner! We wanted to take some time to look into this concept a little deeper to see if there is scientific research to support the idea that there are actual health benefits from canine companionship.

What we found was surprising, even to us! We found 15 ways in which research has shown positive health effects from time spent with dogs!

Although much of the research on how pups effect our health has been done in clinical settings with therapy and companion dogs, there is plenty of reason to believe that dog ownership can have positive effects on our health as well (1, 2, 3).

With rising healthcare costs, the positive effects of dogs on our overall health and their role in assisting in the work of healthcare professionals continue to be avid areas of scientific study (4, 5, 6). In this article, we will be breaking down some of that research for you.

We will start by looking at the physical health benefits of dog ownership and companionship followed by a look at their contribution to better mental and emotional health outcomes. Then we will look at the special contribution dogs are making in the quality of life for a variety of special needs populations. Finally, we will look at the larger social impact of canine companions in our lives.

THE PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF DOGS

Many of the researched benefits of dog ownership include improving our physical health. Many people are already aware of the benefits to heart health that spending time with animals can bring. However, the positives go well beyond that.

1. Dogs Decrease Blood Pressure & Lower Heart Rates. (78)2. Dogs Lower Stress Levels. (9).3. Dogs Promote Increased Levels Of Physical Activity And Have Positive Effects On Rates Of Obesity.(2122).4. Dogs Reduce Allergic Sensitivities & Asthma In Children. (31323334).5. Dogs Assist With Pain Management.(37383940).6. Dogs Help Diagnose Disease & The Onset Of Dangerous Symptoms (42).7. Dogs & Their Positive Effects On Rehabilitation. (505152).

THE MENTAL & EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF DOGS

The health benefits of owning dogs goes well beyond the physical domain. In fact, the benefits of dogs in helping people with psychological disabilities have been well documented in scientific research as well (53).

8. Dogs Can Positively Impact Feelings Of Loneliness & Social Exclusion. (575859).9. Dogs Positively Affect The Development Of Social & Life Skills In At Risk Children.(626364).10. Dogs Help With Depression. (65, 676869).

DOGS BENEFITING THE SPECIAL NEEDS POPULATION

When we think about the benefits of dog ownership, it is important to recognize the critical role dogs play in the lives of the special needs population.

11. Helping Seniors Stay More Active. (707172).12. Alleviating Some Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s & Other Forms Of Dementia.(7475).13. Benefits Of Dog Ownership For Other Special Needs Populations. (78).

SOCIAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF DOG OWNERSHIP

So far, we have focused on the benefits of dog ownership on the lives of individuals. However, because the impacts of canines on our lives are so far reaching, there are larger social aspects of the benefits of dog ownership worth mentioning.14. Decreased Overall Expenditures On Health For Society As A Whole. (878889).15. Dog Ownership Promotes Social Activity, Strengthen Neighborhood Bonds & Increase Sense Of Belonging To The Community. (939495).

Conclusion

The conclusion is clear: There are plenty of researched backed health benefits of owning a dog. Not only do dogs bring joy and purpose into our lives, but their companionship may also be making us healthier and overall better human beings.

The physical benefits for dogs in terms of lowering blood pressure and heart rates are perhaps the most well researched direct benefits of dog ownership. However, as we have seen, research also suggests that canines improve our physical health by encouraging more physical activity, helping us heal, benefiting our immune development, and assisting in the detection of potentially dangerous conditions.

Our emotional and mental health is also improved by dog ownership. Depression, loneliness and feelings of social isolation are all too common problems for people in the modern world. Canines have a positive impact on all of these conditions. In addition, at risk youth may be particularly well served by programs encouraging interaction with dogs.

People with special needs are perhaps most directly served by dog ownership. As we have shown, people with a variety of disabilities have drastically improved quality of life as a direct result of the service dogs in their lives.

The wider social impact of canines is an area of research that is promising and demands more inquiry. It is possible that even those of us that choose not to have dog in our households may still be benefiting from their presence in our communities and neighborhoods. Moreover, the potential healthcare savings on a large scale may even warrant government programs to promote dog ownership in some cases.

Join In The Conversation!

We hope you have found this article informative and helpful. Please feel free to pass on the good news about the benefits of dog ownership by sharing this article. We also welcome your comments below if you have other studies that you think are worth including, or if you have a personal story on the subject that would add to the conversation!

Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) – Professional Dog Trainer

Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.For more info on Sharon click here

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