The health benefits of owning a dog have long been known, but not so clearly understood. People with pets, particularly active ones like dogs, naturally have a better lifestyle and are more active on daily than their non-pet owning counterparts.
New research has delved into the exact benefits, however, with two new studies done by a Canadian and a Swedish research team further quantifying the health improvements seen in dog owners.
The main bulk of research from these respective two studies is the increase in lifespans. In fact, there is an estimated 24% reduction in risk of death amongst dog owners from any cause of death, and a 31% reduction of cardiovascular related deaths amongst dog owners.
The increase in life expectancy increases for those living alone. Single dog owners were 33% less likely to die of a heart attack, and 27% less likely to die from stroke.
The biggest reason for this reduction is the simple fact that dog owners are generally more active, as they need to walk their dog on a regular basis once or even twice a day. Dog owners are also more likely to go on hikes and spend more time outdoors, where they can enjoy the benefits of exercise and nature more fully.
Improved Social Connections
Dogs are incredibly emotional creatures. It isn’t a mistake that many people today would consider their dogs their children. Not only do they require a lot of care and attention, but they also give it back. These social connections can help fight loneliness and similar anxieties in those who live alone, and thus improve their mental health and life expectancy.
Improved Mental Health
Caring for another being can help give those suffering from a variety of mental illnesses structure and routine. Those with depression find it easier to get out of bed when they have a dog that needs to be walked. Those with anxiety find it calming to care for their dog and even enjoy a physical reaction when they pet their dogs.
It can be particularly beneficial if dogs share the same traits as their owners. A person with anxiety should look to rescue a dog. Together, both owner and dog can work through their anxiety. Additional treats like CBD for dogs or CBD for people can be useful and a great tool to use, but even that doesn’t replace the benefits of just being together. It is the companionship, routine, and exercise that will provide the biggest benefits to both parties.
Routine is where bodies are their healthiest, and dogs demand this. The benefit beyond the regular daily walks and hikes is simple: when you have a routine that you need to follow for your dog, you can combine your own routine in the process. This means that those with dogs can build better, healthier routines in all aspects of their lives, and improve their health outlook in the process.
Dogs have been bred to be our companions and the benefits they offer are wide reaching and directly impact our health and wellbeing. Doctors everywhere need to be more aware of the holistic benefits of owning a dog and be open to encouraging patients to take on the responsibility of a pet as part of their treatment.
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