The Amazing Health Benefits of Having Dogs

April 4, 2012

Dogs bring us many things including laughter, kisses, cuddles, headaches, joy, frustration and a slew of other feelings. While they seem to be there for us emotionally and can make us feel better when we’re down, according to the Huffington Post, they can also make us feel better when we are sick and prevent us from getting sick at all. Here are a few ways in which dogs keep us healthier.
Bringing your dog to work can lower stress:

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Research has shown that allowing employees to bring their pooch to the office has a positive physical and mental effect on them. A study measured hormone levels and recorded the mindset of a company’s workers who brought a dog to work, had a dog but didn’t bring the dog to work or didn’t have a dog at all. While stress hormones were similar for the three groups in the morning, they were very different by the end of the day. The conclusion: dogs not only kept stress hormones down, but they made employees more positive.

Dogs can help prevent allergies:

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It seems exposure to dogs at a young age can actually help prevent pet allergies later in life. Science has also shown that children have lower rates of childhood eczema when raised with dogs. Sounds like a solid case to get your kid a dog.
Dogs lower cholesterol:

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According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dog owners have lower levels of triglyceride and cholesterol in their bodies.

Dogs relax you and reduce blood pressure:

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When you’re heart is racing and your stressed or anxious, all you have to do is to hug or pet your dog and your body will relax. Interestingly, studies have shown that even being in the same room as your pup can do the job. Ever wonder why there are often aquariums in a doctor’s office waiting room? It’s because even being nearby a fish tank can have a calming effect.
They force you to exercise:

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Force may be a strong word, but dogs definitely get you out and about providing you with more walking, running and activity then you’d have otherwise. The CDC recognizes that having a dog can get you outdoors more and even help you socialize more frequently.

They help you survive heart attacks:

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According to the National Institute of Health, some very high quality studies have concluded that having a dog improves cardiovascular health, thus preventing a heart attack from occurring in the first place. One particular field study found that out of 421 adults who experienced a heart attack, those who had a dog were significantly more likely to be alive a year later. Pretty amazing.
They’re like free therapy:

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As far as your mental health is concerned the National Institute of Health acknowledges that having a dog as a child helps in the development of empathy. Often, when children are asked who they go to with their problems, they answer their pet. Children with autism are often better at interacting with pets and may learn the skills they need for human interaction. Additionally, clinicians at hospitals and other clinical settings admit people are less anxious, in a better mood and positively affected by therapy dogs.

Though it seems obvious that our dogs make us all-around happier, it’s nice to know that they also improve our health. Thanks to all those dogs out there that keep us well!

Sources: Info from Huffington Post, National Institute of Health, cdc.gov, main image via Max and Mittens

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