Owning a Dog is Good for Your Health

by Melissa Keen

A Swedish study has looked into the ways dogs could have a positive effect on our health – and it’s positive news for us dog lovers!

Those who own dogs were shown to have better responses to stress in that their blood pressure and heart rates don’t soar during times of strain. They were also shown to have fewer heart attacks, lower cholesterol levels and to be overall fitter due to higher levels of physical activity.

And that’s not all – some dogs can “sniff out” certain cancers of the skin, breast, bladder, ovary, colon and lung. And they’re not only great for us but for our children too – studies have shown that children who grow up with pets are less likely to suffer from allergies and skin conditions such as eczema. These same children are also less likely to have days off from school than those who don’t have a dog in the household.

The biggest overall impact was on those who lived alone; the study says that owning a dog could potentially relieve social isolation and depression, both of which have been linked to heart disease and early death. Having a dog in the house could be just as positive for us as living with other people, plus it makes life “more meaningful” as we have something to care for and tend to each day. For example, if we get sick and end up in hospital, having our beloved pet at home waiting for us gives us more motivation to get back home faster.

Whilst Sweden as a whole is not particularly dog-oriented, there are those who hope the study will show how important dogs can be to our lives.

The study is to be taken with a pinch of salt, however, as it is an observational study – they’re able to note certain associations, but not the causes. For example, it may be that people who are healthy enough in the first place tend to have dogs as pets.

The study also showed that most health benefits came from having larger dogs, such as retrievers or pointers, not “toy dogs”. It’s also important to note that just owning a dog does not garner all these health benefits – it’s the fact having a dog forces us to be more active.

As if we needed any more reasons to love our dogs!

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