The 5 Surprising Health Benefits Of Owning A Dog

The 5 Surprising Health Benefits Of Owning A Dog

By Sirena Van Schaik | Monday Monday Staff -    2018-03-14

For anyone who owns a dog, I am sure that it comes as no surprise that there are benefits to dog ownership. Dogs offer us more than just their love and there really are so many benefits that owners aren’t even aware of. So let’s look at 5 health benefits of dog ownership that may surprise you.

1) Boost your Immune System

The first benefit of dog ownership we are going to look at is the fact that dogs actually boost your immune system.

I know, it’s a bit crazy to think of that, but studies have shown that dog saliva, found in drool or when your dog kisses you, actually helps the immune system in humans. The reason for this is because the bacteria found in dog saliva are similar to bacteria found in the human gut.

This increase in the bacteria, specifically acting as a probiotic, leads to a boost in the immune system. Dog owners can see a reduction in allergies and even fewer sick days. That news is sure to make everyone want to steal a few kisses from a beloved canine.

2) They Keep You Active

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Dogs, after all, need to be walked and that gets us outside and active. However, the amount of extra walking the average dog owner may surprise you.

In a 2006 study by the University of Victoria, Canada, dog owners walk an average of 300 minutes per week. Compare this to people who don’t own dogs at 168 minutes per week, dog owners are walking almost double.

That is a lot of walking, which has a great impact on the overall health of dog owners.

In addition to keeping owners healthy, another benefit of dog ownership is that it keeps the whole family active. Another study by the American Journal of Public Health found that children with dogs participate in more physical activity than children without. Finally, regardless of your activity level, almost all dog owners participate in moderate to medium levels of activity, if not more.

3) Reduce the Incidence of Eczema

Although this benefit of dog ownership has less to do with adults, it is definitely worth looking at. Studies have shown that children who live with dogs from infancy are less likely to develop eczema.

If you are not aware of what eczema is it is a condition where the skin becomes rough and inflamed. It is extremely itchy and, at times, blisters can occur with bleeding.

Children raised with dogs were less likely to develop eczema by the age of four. While studies are still early on this health benefit of dog ownership, it has shown positive results.

4) Aid in Healing

We are all aware of therapy dogs, so it should come as no surprise that dogs aid in healing. They are believed to work as social catalysts, which encourage better mobility and recovery.

Other studies have shown that owners who interact with their dog experience a reduction in pain.

In addition, dogs help us feel better and this increased feeling of well-being can have an effect on our recovery time. Simply put, an added benefit of dog ownership is having a companion beside you as you recover from being ill. And that companion will have you feeling better in no time; even if it’s by lifting your spirits.

5) Reduce Stress

Which brings us to our final dog ownership health benefit, reducing stress.

As with all of our dog ownership health benefits, science has proven it. In studies, five minutes spent with a dog can lower your cortisol, which is our stress hormone. Another study has proven that dog owners de-stress much faster than spending time with their spouse. So after a hard day at work, going home and spending a few minutes with your pooch will help you leave behind your stress.

The health benefits of dog ownership are endless. In fact, studies are constantly being conducted and more information is being gathered to prove that dogs really are man’s best friend. And that friendship comes with more perks than looking at their sweet faces every day.

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Sirena Van Schaik

Sirena Van Schaik is a full time writer who loves the written word and dogs alike. Originally from the mild climes of British Columbia, she now resides in the extreme temperatures of Southwestern Ontario.

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