The Health Benefits of Dog Ownership


By Anna Lee

We love our dogs and they love us. As responsible pet owners we do the best we can for our furry friends and they repay us in kind. We also know that laughter is the best medicine and dogs are very funny. Therefore, it makes sense that owning a dog is healthy for us! I am extremely lucky because Abby is a funny dog. She also knows how to melt my heart.

We know that pets enrich our lives. Recent scientific studies have begun to pin-point the ways that companion animals improve our minds and our bodies. Beyond walks and games of fetch, eager faces at the end of the day and many kisses, pets provide documented health benefits.

A 1993 report in the Harvard Health Letter explains that companion animals have more consistent behavior compared to our human companions and that they offer unconditional affection. The effect is lower blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety levels for pet owners. We repay our pets with love and attention. More than 60 percent of pets receive “as much attention as children,” according to the 1994 American Animal Hospital Association pet owner survey. In my house Abby receives 100% since we have no children.

Laughter has been proven to reduce stress, increase muscle flexion, lower blood pressure and boost immune function by raising T-cell levels. Laughter also releases the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, and increases emotional well being while decreasing feelings of depression. Dogs are natural born comedians; mine is and your dog mostly like is also. Abby makes my husband I laugh on a continual basis. With recent studies suggesting that depression is more deadly than many other chronic diseases, spending some time with a canine goof-ball might be the best health insurance available. If I am in a bad mood and Abby does something typically Abby, the bad mood lifts away!

Exercise – In a Columbia University Study participants lost an average of fourteen pounds when they started walking the dog for just 20 minutes a day five times a week. Dog owners are more likely than non-dog owners to walk regularly and longer. Taking responsibility for someone else’s well being is more compelling than looking out for your own health. I agree with that totally. I put off going to the doctor myself, but if Abby looks a little ‘off’ I call the vet instantly for an appointment.

Socializing – When we walk our dogs in the park or around the block people are more apt to speak to us. Dog lovers will naturally start up conversations. When we socialize with others we feel good about ourselves. We were on vacation a few years back in Chattanooga and visited Rock City. This is a huge mountain with all kinds of fun and interesting things to look at and squeeze through on the climb to the top. At the summit is a fantastic view of several states. That day there were many families with kids who had no desire to look at a view.

We sat down to relax and within seconds were surrounded by kids all wanting to pet Abby. Just watching their little faces made us feel better and Abby certainly didn’t pass up one kiss or pat on the head! Finally, parents realized the kids were having a better time with our dog because they were all on vacation and they missed their dogs back home. Rock City is pet friendly – check their website for more information on a great attraction! (www.seerockcity.com)

Sleep – I don’t know about other dog owners, but I know feel confident at night knowing my dog is in the same room snoozing – with one ear and one eye open! Our quality of sleep has a big effect on health. Lack of sleep has been linked to some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Now if I could just get Abby to sleep later than 6 AM I would be very happy.

All of the health benefits of canine companionship are good for us. Better brain chemistry equals better sleep. More exercise makes for less depression. Better sleep eases mood problems. And wet sloppy kisses can mend a broken heart!

Dogs are good for our health! Since they provide us such a beneficial service we need to make sure we take care of them in return. What better way to take care of your best friend than to feed your pet a premium food like CANIDAE?

Read more articles by Anna Lee

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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