Yes! Dogs can help improve our health

Not being a pet owner myself, I was very intrigued to learn about the ability of dogs to help improve our physical and mental health. Thank you, Brandon Butler, for introducing me to these special qualities. Please go to Brandon’s website to find out more.

How Dogs Improve Our Health

by Brandon Butler

Photo credit by Pexels

Dog owners have told us for years that their pets are more than just companions. Who hasn’t heard the story of a dog that has saved someone emotionally? But is it true? It turns out that even science supports the theory that dogs can improve your mental, physical, and social health.

The Physical Health Benefits of Dogs

We don’t commonly think of dogs as being beneficial to our physical bodies, but they can be. Here are a few ways how:

  • Dogs require daily walking and exercise and that means you need to walk with them. You’ll be building muscle as you learn to control your dog and getting exercise along your walk.
  • That daily walk can frequently expose you to sunshine, which benefits your Vitamin D intake. That can help stave off negative emotions like depression.
  • A recent study shows that exposure to pets at an early age may prevent allergies and asthma in babies and young children.
  • Another study showed that petting a dog seemed to help lower blood pressure, slow heart rates, and regulate breathing. It even reduced stress hormones.

Still not convinced that a dog can help your physical health? Watch this touching story at Mutual Rescue of Eric O’Grey who was so sick and obese, his doctor had no hope for him. He adopted a rescue dog, Peety, who helped transform Eric into a healthy man.

The Psychological Benefits of Dog Ownership

Along with the emotional benefits of good health, dogs can in fact provide a psychological benefit to the people they befriend.

  • Unlike other pets, dogs are renown for their unconditional love. This allows them to provide companionship and a much-needed emotional bond for people who are lonely or isolated.
  • As mentioned, they help reduce stress.
  • They are great fun! Playing with your dog can bring you plenty of joy.
  • They can help you create friendships with others, as reported in this article from Harvard Medical School.

Therapy Dogs For Mental Health

While you can adopt any dog, you might want to consider a therapy dog. This is not the same as a service dog. Those dogs are highly trained and regulated to help people with disabilities in some way, such as guide dog for visually impaired people.

Therapy, or “comfort,” dogs are not rigorously trained and you do not have to be disabled to own one. These pets provide their owners with emotional support. People with a diverse range of mental health problems such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety have benefited from therapy dogs.

Dog Walking Is Just As Good

Not everyone can take on the commitment of raising a dog, but there is another option for you: dog walking. This activity not only provides similar benefits, such as exercise and sunshine, it can also be a source of income.

But the best part is that dog walkers meet others who also love dogs. Walking several dogs at once is sure to get people talking to you! As you become familiar with the dog’s temperament and the owners’ wishes, you may even allow people to pet them.

Setting up a walking schedule and route will help you encounter the same people regularly. That is one way to start building friendships. Plus, it will give you great experience should you one day decide to adopt your own dog.  This article from The Odyssey Online has even more on the benefits of becoming a dog walker!

Dogs can improve your physical, mental, and social health. Even less exposure, like petting or dog walking, can encourage you. Consider the benefits of bringing a canine companion into your life.

About the Author: Brandon is a dog lover and vet tech. He loves helping pet owners by sharing advice on FurandFeathers.info.

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