Reading that title, you’re probably inclined to think that adopting a dog is good for your health because you’ll be more likely to go for walks. And you’d be right. Getting out and walking is good for your health in more than one way. Not only is it good for your physical health; it’s good for your mental, emotional and even social health as well. But there are other reasons why adopting a dog is good for your health. And some of the benefits are unbelievable!
In addition to the commonly considered physical benefits of owning a dog, dog ownership has many other health benefits too.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always had a dog. From my first pet — a German Shepherd named Shar, to our most recent dogs — a Poodle named Mia and Jack Russell named Emmy. We actually adopted Mia from the RSPCA and she’d had a tough life. When we first brought her home, she was so used to not having food that she practically inhaled her food and then threw it up.
There are many reasons why adopting a dog is good for you and your family. If you have children, the process of choosing a dog from the Council Pound or RSPCA helps to develop social justness. And once you bring your dog home, the accountability of looking after it develops responsibility and empathy in your children.
And while these might be compelling reasons to adopt a dog for your children, there are many reasons why adopting a dog is good for you too. Especially for your health.
Why Adopting a Dog is Good for Your Health
- Having a dog boosts your immune system
Research from the University of Arizona found that the saliva from your dogs mouth can actually help you to develop healthy bacteria colonies in your body, which boost your immune system. They’re like a walking and barking probiotic machine.
- Dog ownership lowers blood pressure and reduces stress
People who own dogs have less dramatic physiological response to stress, as measured by heart rate and blood pressure. Scientists believe this is due to the positive feelings that pets induce, along with their ability to help us put our problems into perspective.
- Having a dog can reduce anxiety and worry
Through a more positive perspective, and enhanced feelings of wellbeing, owning a dog reduces anxiety and worry. With anxiety disorders being one of the most common mental disorders, and on the rise, owning a dog is an effective strategy for reducing the negative emotions and debilitating effects of anxiety.
- Being a dog owner improves your self-esteem
If you’re worried about the responsibility of taking care of a dog, most people find it comes instinctively. As you carryout the day-to-day responsibilities that come with dog ownership, your confidence and self-esteem improves.
- Owning a dog can increase your social network
As you take your dog for walks, or even better to the dog park, you meet new people. Owning a dog can really enhance your social life. Forget Tinder and LinkedIn; I’ve known people who’ve had new relationships and careers start at the dog park.
- Dogs increase your performance
This is the big one for me. A study in the journal, Hypertension, showed that people with dogs were more capable of performing tasks correctly than those without dogs.
- You're saving a life (and that feels good!)
While comprehensive data is difficult to come by, it is estimated that roughly 20,000 to 30,000 dogs are put down each year in Australia. Shelters like the RSPCA can’t keep dogs forever. So when you adopt a dog, you could be saving its life. And that has to feel good.
Adopting a dog is a very rewarding experience; and if you have children, it can help to develop many desirable attributes and skills in them too. In addition to the commonly considered physical benefits of owning a dog, dog ownership has many other health benefits. From improving your immune system and self-esteem, to increasing your cognitive performance and social life, adopting a dog may be one of the best things you can do for you and your family.
Question: Do you own any pets? If so, what type of pets do you have? How do they affect the quality of your life? Leave your questions and comments in the discussion section below.
Disclaimer: Before you run to your closest dog shelter to adopt, please consider your position to commit to an animal. Do your research. Consider what kind of dog would best suit you, your family and your home. Make sure you know what it means to look after an animal for the entirety of its life.
[Image source: Smart Family Pets]
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