Health Relationships

5 Ways Your Dog Makes You a Healthier Person

Written by Kasey M. Fuqua

All the time you spend throwing a Frisbee, cuddling on the couch or taking your dog out to use the bathroom leads to a happy, healthy dog—and a happy, healthy owner.

Pet ownership is not a one-way street; while you care for Rover’s health, Rover is secretly improving your health, too. Every day your dog makes you a healthier person, helping you:

Perform More Physical Activity

National Institutes of Health research showed that people who own and walk their dogs regularly were less likely to be obese than owners who don’t walk dogs. By getting you up and out, Fido improves your bone, muscle and heart health.

For older adults, walking the dog can also improve mobility inside the home. Better mobility helps seniors avoid falls and maintain their independence.

Avoid Allergies

Many people have allergies to dog dandruff. However, children who grow up in homes with pets are more likely to avoid developing allergies and asthma according to multiple studies. Allergies increase a child’s risk of developing asthma, so reducing a child’s risk for allergies early in life can have huge benefits for their health as they age.

Enjoy Better Mental Health

Dogs rely on us for play, cuddles and food. Studies show this can lead to a sense of belonging among pet owners, which helps combat feelings of depression as well as low self-esteem.

Petting or cuddling with a dog also relieves stress and anxiety, which is why dogs are so often used as therapy animals with veterans, patients in hospitals and at nursing homes. Petting a dog releases certain hormones in the brain that can soothe an anxious mind.

Research even shows that people without any mental health concerns benefit emotionally from pets. Pet owners were more likely to have better wellbeing and be more well-adjusted than people who did not own pets.

Have More Social Contact

If you’ve ever walked a dog in the park, you know that other people are more likely to approach you, looking for a chance to give Fido’s head a scratch. Pet owners often have more opportunities for social contact with the neighbors and community. The more social relationships you have, the less likely you are to suffer health problems. In older adults especially, increased social contact can slow mental and physical decline associated with aging. 

Lower Your Blood Pressure

Those cuddles with your canine not only help you relax, they actually lower your blood pressure. Studies have shown that people with dogs have better cardiovascular health, including lower triglycerides and blood pressure. The combination of stress relief and physical activity work together to improve your cardiovascular function.

One study even showed that among people who had had a heart attack, pet owners were more likely to be alive a year later than those who did not own pets.

Though you shouldn’t get a dog for the health benefits alone, it’s good to know that all the love and attention you give to your pooch comes right back to you in the form of better health.

About the author

Kasey M. Fuqua

Kasey Fuqua has been writing for hospitals and healthcare publications for over five years. Her writing often inspires her to explore new habits at home, from baking healthier to trying different workout routines. She’s a firm believer in lifting heavy weights, enjoying the food you eat and getting eight hours of sleep.