Dogs are adorable. But if that’s not enough to convince your family or partner and you’re looking for genuine reasons to get a dog, you’ll be glad to learn that having a pet dog can affect your health in many different ways — all good! 

Take a look at these top 8 health benefits of having a dog in your life.

Whether you’re convincing your family or thinking of getting a dog for your kids, these reasons to get a dog will settle the debate!

Top 8 Health Benefits of Owning a Dog

1. Dogs Encourage An Active Lifestyle

One of the biggest health benefits of having a dog is the drastic change in your lifestyle, which includes increased physical activity and more structure or routine to your day.

One study finds dog owners are more likely to meet their physical activity guidelines than people without dogs. Not only do dog owners walk more for recreation, but they also take longer walks than those who do not own dogs.

2. Dogs Make You More Social

Dogs encourage their humans to make more friends and help increase their social connections while reducing feelings of loneliness.

Here’s what Phil Tedeschi, a human-pet relationship expert and Executive Director of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work, says:

“Research suggests that our connections with dogs increase our social interactions, evidenced by more openness to others, initiating conversations, focusing toward other people, being more positive, increased physical activity and play, and more laughing.”

3. Dogs Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced risk of heart disease is one of the biggest health benefits of dog ownership.

Having pets around can help lower blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and cholesterol, all of which are markers of heart disease.

You can reduce your blood pressure and heart rate all by simply petting a dog or taking it for a daily walk. It also tells your dog how much you cherish them.

4. Dogs Help Boost the Microbiome

Early life exposure to household pets is shown to increase the diversity and richness of the human gut microbiome in infants and young children. A rich gut microbiome also helps reduce the risk of allergies.

However, this does not translate to swapping plates with your dog. Dogs cannot eat certain kinds of human food, which means their diet needs to be closely guarded. One such frequently asked query about foods you can feed your dog is can dogs eat cabbage? (The answer’s yes!)

5. Dogs Can Improve Happiness

Even having brief interactions with dogs can boost the release of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine in your body. These are all “feel-good chemicals” that are associated with promoting happiness and pleasure while reducing feelings of pain, depression, and anxiety.

These interactions can include positive social interactions like cuddling, playing, or even gazing into a dog’s eyes.

That’s right!

Looking into your dog’s eyes is reported to increase oxytocin in both the dog and the dog owner.

The more these happiness hormones release, the more they influence your habits.

Dr. Francoise Adan, psychiatrist and director of the Connor Integrative Health Network of University Hospitals in Cleveland, says, “Being happy doesn’t just make us feel better, it improves our health. It helps us eat healthier, be more active and sleep better.”

And the healthier your routine practices are, the healthier your body becomes.

6. Dogs Improve Older Adults’ Health

If you’ve been wondering what are the benefits of having a dog in older age, well, there are plenty! 

Older pet owners report better overall health and physical activity than non-pet owners. Pet ownership in older adults or regular contact with pets is also associated with better cognitive function.

Older adults not only benefit from the companionship of dogs but also gain a sense of purpose. They’re more likely to engage in socialization and less likely to be lonely. 

If you’re an older adult with a pet, then you’re 30% less likely to visit a doctor than if you were without a pet.

But the biggest benefit of dog ownership is seen in patients with Alzheimer’s, with 100% of the participants in a study reporting physical, behavioral, and psychological improvement after canine-assisted therapy.

These results prove that interactions with dogs could help patients suffering from Alzheimer-type dementia maintain their quality of life for a longer period of time.

7. Dogs Help Lower Stress Levels

One of the best benefits of having a dog is how easily it helps you release stress, no matter how bad your day is.

Stroking and petting a dog can make you feel less stressed and calmer, as can hugging, touching, or being in the company of your dog.

Studies have found numerous mood-boosting health benefits of a dog ownership, stating that caring for dogs can help relieve depression and anxiety while lowering stress levels.

8. Dogs Improve Coping Skills

One of the biggest health benefits of owning a dog is how supportive a dog’s company is to owners going through major life changes.

Whether you’re going through a personal loss, moving to a new city, or have recently lost your job, a dog can be a tremendous source of support and comfort. Dogs can provide owners with a sense of routine and structure that helps them manage life better during those difficult times.

The Bottom Line

From physical and emotional to mental benefits, there are many reasons to get a dog. However, owners must also realize the importance of taking care of their dogs. Giving your dog a safe and healthy environment will ensure your family and the dog can enjoy the benefits.

We hope this list of benefits of having a dog at home will help you convince your family to finally get a dog. Good luck!