(Dog) Fountain of Youth?
While raising a dog can be stressful at times — especially if your pup is a power chewer or likes to pull — it’s also one of the most rewarding and positive experiences you can possibly have. Dog ownership has a variety of proven health benefits that help enrich and lengthen our lives. Here are just a few ways our dogs keep us young.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Scala
1. Dogs Get Us Up
There’s nothing like a cold nose at your side to get you up and moving every day. Even on the darkest, most chilly mornings our dogs demand a walk or quick break outdoors. Sharing the first few moments of our day with our favorite four-legged family members is the perfect way to take in some fresh air and reset our body clocks in preparation for another busy day.
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2. Dogs Keep Us Moving
Who needs a gym membership when you’ve got a wiggly little friend in need of some exercise too? According to the New York Times, several studies show that dog owners are more likely to take regular walks and are more active overall than people who don’t have dogs. Fido can be a powerful motivator for getting off the couch and taking an extra-long walk or easy jog through the neighborhood to benefit his long-term health alongside yours.
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3. Dogs Keep the Whole Family Healthy
Nothing can take years off our lives, and the lives of our family, like a disease or illness. Fortunately, new research indicates that having a dog in the home can help keep everyone’s cold at bay.
According to the journal Pediatrics, children who live in a home with a pet during their first year of live are more likely to be healthier than those who don’t live in a home with a pet. Those with a dog in the home had 31 percent fewer respiratory tract infections and 44 percent fewer ear infections than children who didn’t live with a dog, research found.
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4. Dogs are Natural De-Stressors
There’s nothing better than a happy pup to come home to after a long, stressful day at work. A simple wagging tail and big smooch can bring an instant smile to our faces and help melt away our worries. According study in the journal Hypertension, the support we get from owning a pet can also help lower our blood pressure. The study found that among people taking ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure, having a pet seemed to help stabilize their blood pressure levels during moments of stress.
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5. Dogs Bring Out Our Social Side
Most dogs don’t think twice about approaching a friendly stranger, a cue many of us should learn from in new social settings. Our pets also make an easy conversation starter, helping to boost our confidence and self-esteem among new people. According to the Daily Mail, pet owners are generally less fearful and more extroverted than non pet-owning peers — the perfect elixir for making new friends and staying young.
6. Dogs Keep Us Company
As we age, dealing with loss and isolation can be a difficult and stressful task to overcome. Having a dog can help ease this transition and help us maintain a positive outlook while bringing focus to an elderly person’s daily routine.
Additionally, therapy dogs are another way hospitals and residential care facilities keep patients who are sick or dealing with a disability feeling motivated and independent. A trusty sidekick can go a long way in turning around a person’s attitude and keep them feeling young.