Science Proves Owning a Dog is Good for Your Health

It’s no secret that finding a friend in man’s best friend is one of the greatest joys in life. On top of their undying affection and constant company, there is in fact a hidden benefit that comes with owning a dog. While you may think that there are already types of dogs that provide real benefits to those in need – such as guide dogs for the visually impaired or seizure alert dogs for those with epilepsy – the average domestic dog actually provides a significant impact on our mood and health.

Perhaps you've heard of the benefits on our health that come from owning a dog, but don’t be surprised if you haven’t. While the happiness that comes from the day-to-day interactions with your dog is basically common knowledge to you and every other dog owner in the world, recent scientific studies have actually proven many differing factors in both mental and physical health.

Here are some of the benefits that scientists have found through vigorous research into human-animal interaction:

  • Pet owners are less likely to deal with anxiety, panic disorder and depression
  • Blood pressure in stressful situations is much lower in pet owners
  • Going for a walk, playing fetch or simply spending time with a pet raises the level of dopamine and serotonin – two chemicals in the brain that control mood and the ability to relax
  • Pet owners have lower levels of triglyceride and cholesterol – two major indicators of heart disease
  • Heart attack patients that own pets are more likely to survive longer
  • Elderly pet owners (over the age of 65) make 30% fewer trips to the doctor or hospital

The main reason for the therapeutic effects that come with having a canine friend is that it fulfills one of our most basic human instincts – touch. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that wouldn't crack a smile at a pup’s waggling tail, or a kiss or two. In fact, even some of the most seasoned criminals have shown some long-term changes in their overall behavior after interacting with dogs (and other animals as well). On top of ailing loneliness and stress, dogs are a great foot-in-the-door to a healthier lifestyle – which when combined with the companionship of a dog can increase your life overall.

One example of the impact it has is that it can increase social interactions. If you find yourself more of an observer in social situations, a dog can be really good for the small talk that leads into big conversations. Let’s say you’re out and about for a walk, and you just so happen to pass someone walking their dog as well. The two dogs begin to interact, and you both share a brief laugh or a smile. You could say “What a beautiful dog you have there. What breed is it?” To which they would reply “Oh, she’s a German Sheppard”. See – it’s that simple. Dogs are great conversation starters because they give two strangers something obvious in common.

If this all sounds appealing to you; and you truly want one of man’s best friends as a sidekick to your everyday life, you should first evaluate your current lifestyle to see if owning a dog is a viable option for you.

Some aspects you should take into consideration can include who lives in your home, or what type of free time you have.

Do you have any small children that might be frightened by a dog? Get your children involved in the adoption process. Bring them to a local kennel or an Ontario SPCA branch, and let them choose what dog best interacts with them and you.

Do you work nights? Maybe you have an inconsistent schedule? If you have responsibilities that need to be followed through on, looking into a local dog boarding facility to house your dog for a night or two, or even having a family member or a friend look after them might be an option. Many dog boarding facilities offer large acres of land for free roaming, other dogs to play with and “camp counselors” to play with too.

Remember – a dog is not just a pet, it’s a lifetime commitment to unconditional love. Make sure to devote the same amount of time, love and care that they devote to us.


Briana Cameron is a marketing specialist and blogger travelling between Barrie & Toronto a lot. She is a true dog lover and finds a Toronto dog boarding camp makes things easier on her and her dogs while she travels.

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