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Dogs and Our Health: The Benefits of our Furry Friends

For thousands of years, dogs have been domesticated and bred to have qualities humans deemed suitable–a literal transformation from wild animal to man’s best friend. They are our companions, friends, family, and service dogs. That feeling we get when we see our furry friend jump with joy, give us a kiss (and accidentally hit us with that wagging tail!) is well known. The health benefits of dog ownership, however, is often less talked about. Here, we round up the scientific evidence of how dogs can significantly enhance health and quality of life.

Dogs Enhance Physical and Mental Health
• Dog owners reap amazing cardiovascular benefits, including lower cholesterol and reduced blood pressure.
• Dog owners have a lower likelihood of visiting the doctor.
• Dog owners have a lower likelihood of being on medication for sleeping and heart issues.
• Dog owners have a lower likelihood of health deterioration after losing their significant other.
• Dogs help fight depression.
• Dogs allow humans to have responsibility, purpose, and support.
• Dog owners feel safer outside when walking their dogs.
• Having a pet can save you money on health care due to less frequent doctor’s visits–a result of greater, more stable health.

Dogs Have Big Benefits for Children
• Children who have dogs at home are more active. This leads to a more physical and healthier lifestyle.
• Children who owns dogs generally become more nurturing adults.
• Children with pets have higher self-esteem.
• Children with pets have an enhanced immune system and experience less allergies than children who are not around pets.
• Dogs make children feel safe.

Dogs In Hospital and Nursing Homes
• Dogs helped patient become more responsive, alert, and happier.
• Residential dogs in nursing homes resulted in less fatigue, less depression, and increase in vigor for patients.
• Residents of nursing home socialized more with each other when dogs were present.

Dogs Can Prevent Illness and Injury
• A study showed that dog owners experience less minor injuries than non-dog owners.
• Pet owners have lower risk factors for coronary heart disease.

Dogs Can Speed Up Recovery From Illness
• Dog owners are more than 8.6 times more likely to be alive after a heart attack than non-dog owners.
• Pets allow humans to cope better after learning they have a major illness.
• Pets allow humans to feel like they have a sense of support before, during, and after their illness.
• Recently widowed women with dogs are on less medication and experience less symptoms of disease than their non-dog owning counterparts.

Dogs Provide Unspoken Therapy
• Dogs help soldiers cope with post traumatic stress disorder.
• Some programs allow dogs to be trained for the disabled by prisoners. This help boost the prisoners’ self-esteems and teaches them nurturing skills.
• Dogs are a great stress relief for students during exams.