As far as I’m concerned, everyone could benefit from having a dog. I have only had Rocco for a year and a half, but I can’t imagine my life without him now. He may drive me nuts sometimes, but he’s a wonderful companion who comforts me when I’m sad, keeps me company when I’m bored, watches TV with me, and runs with me, just to name a few. Some may think that dogs are just pets (any dog owner knows that isn’t the case), but there are actually quite a few health benefits of living with man’s best friend.
1 – Petting a dog has been proven to lower your stress and anxiety levels, and therefore blood pressure levels
2 – Dogs need to be walked; walking your dog means you’re getting more exercise than just sitting on your couch when you get home from work.
3 – People with dogs have lower cholesterol levels; researchers aren’t sure why, but they’ve found a strong connection
4 – Dog owners tend to be happier. Researchers have even noted a significantly decreased suicide rate in veterans with PTSD. Many psychologists believe this is because dog owners have the responsibility to take care of someone that loves them.
5 – Dogs help people socialize. Not only will you frequent the dog park as a dog owner, but you also immediately have something in common with the other humans at the dog park – instant conversation starter.
6 – Dogs help to ease pain. Researchers think this happen in a similar way to Valium – if stress/anxiety levels are lower, pain is lower.
7 – Children raised with dogs have decreased allergies as adults. Many people think that they need to protect their children from allergens and therefore do not get a dog, but researchers have proven the opposite.
8 – Dogs help to provide structure to your life. If you tend to fly by the seat of your pants and struggle maintaining a routine, a dog will certainly change that. Dogs function best if they follow a routine; therefore as a dog owner, keeping your dog on a routine leaves you with a happy dog. I have a late sleeping dog, but for most dog owners, if you have a hard time waking up, your pup will likely break you of that bad habit.
These are just a few reasons why everyone needs a dog, but if you talk to any dog owner, I’m sure they will provide you with countless others. I must admit, the best part of having Rocco in my life is coming home to him. The endless love and kisses I get when I walk through the front door is incomparable to anything else.
Alix Terpos PT, DPT