As a devoted pet owner, you try your best to make sure your dog is living the healthiest life possible, with plenty of walks, regular check-ups at the vet and only the very best dog food. You do everything in your power to make sure he is healthy and happy, and as it turns out, your dog is returning the favor. Owning a dog—or even borrowing a friend's for an afternoon—can be extremely beneficial to your mental and physical wellness.
Here are 5 sneaky ways your pet is helping you live healthy. Once you know how much good your dog is doing for your wellness, you are going to love them even more (as if that's even possible!).
1. They boost your mood.
There's a reason that towards the end of the work day all you can think about is going home to your patiently waiting pup. It's because they are basically the best stress buster ever. Petting a dog can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers found that patients who had high blood pressure who also had pets could keep their blood pressure lower during times of mental stress than patients without a pet.
2. They help regulate your weight.
This benefit probably comes as no surprise if you have a pooch who can't get enough leash time. Daily walks with your pet give you no choice but to get moving, especially if your dog has lots of energy. Research conducted by the National Institute of Health found that dog owners responsible for walking their pet are less likely to be obese than those who don't own dogs at all.
3. They lower the likelihood of allergies.
You are not the only one who will benefit from owning a dog—your child's health could be greatly impacted as well. Having a pet in the home can lower a child's likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. Children exposed to animals early in life may even be less sick in general, as they tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.
4. They're good for your heart.
Your heart may feel like it's going to burst every time you come home to a happy dog, but your pup is actually proven to keep your heart in top shape. Dog owners have been shown to have decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This means a lower risk of having a heart attack down the road. If you have already suffered from a heart attack, research indicates that patients with a dog tend to have better recovery rates.
5. They help you make friends.
Spending time with people we care about is possibly the best way to live a happy, healthy life. While your dog can provide some pretty great company, they can help you meet new two-legged friends, too. Taking your dog out in public is a great icebreaker—a study by Britain's Warwick University found that 40 percent of people reported making friends much easier because of their dog.