In case you need even more reasons to snuggle your dog, here are six scientifically proven ways dogs improve the health and well-being of those who love them.
- They relieve stress. Playing with your dog or even just petting a familiar dog lowers blood pressure and heart rate, slows breathing, and relaxes muscle tension, according to a 1980 study by Alan Beck of Purdue.
- They are good for heart health. Dog ownership is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels. And, dog owners who have heart attacks have better survival rates following the events, according to research from the American Journal of Cardiology.
- They protect children from allergies. Having a dog reduces a child’s risk of becoming allergic to pets by up to 33 percent, according to a 2004 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
- They reduce doctor visits. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that dog-owning seniors on Medicare “reported fewer doctor contacts over the 1-year period than respondents who did not own dogs.”
- They keep you social. A study at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University concluded that people who have a strong attachment to their dog report that they feel more connected in their human relationships and their communities.
- They encourage exercise. Dog owners are way more likely to hit the daily recommended amount of exercise. One Canadian study showed that dog owners walk an average of 300 minutes per week, while non-dog owners walk an average of 168 minutes a week.