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The Surprising Health Benefits Of Owning A Dog

It’s no secret that dogs are great. If you’ve ever owned a dog, or even just been friendly with the dogs in your neighborhood, then you know this to be true.

They’re happy, loving, little bundles of joy who can make even the worst day seem a little bit brighter with their enthusiasm and boundless love.

And even when they do things like pee on the rug and eat your socks, you can’t stay mad at them for long. In fact, sometimes their antics make for some pretty hilarious photos that all dog owners can relate to.

Everyone knows that owning a dog is great, even with the extra responsibility that comes with it. But did you know that having a dog isn’t just rewarding, but actually good for you, too?

It might seem obvious thathaving a furry pal as part of your family is good for you, but it turns out that dogs affect both our physical and mental health in incredibly positive and particular ways.

In fact, research done for more than 25 years has shown that living with pets provides a number of health-boosting benefits for you and your family. And it’s not just certified assistance or therapy dogs. It’s all dogs!

These health benefits of having a dog will make you appreciate your pooch all the more not that you didn’t appreciate them before! Read on to see what your dog is doing for you, without even realizing it!

Thumbnail Photo:Drew Bates, Toshiyuki IMAI

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Dog Benefit #1: Reduced Allergies

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Studies have shown that kids who grow up with furry pets have less of a risk of allergies and asthma, being exposed to the pet’s dander and fur at an early age.

A study showed that infants living in a home with a dog were about 14 percent less likely to have pet allergies, and they also recorded a reduced rate of eczema and allergic skin condition.

Dog Benefit #2: Lowered Blood Pressure

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Petting your dog after a long day is calming, as you know, but it also serves to lower blood pressure and keep it at a lower average rate.

A study of 240 married couples showed that pet owners had lower blood pressure and heart rates than those without pets.

Another study showed that people with hypertension experienced lowered blood pressure after petting a dog.

Dog Benefit #3: Eased Anxiety

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Dogs, even those without therapy training, are a calming presence in our lives.

For people with anxiety issues, dogs can serve to ground them and keep them in the present.

Spending time with pets has been shown to lower levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.

They also give people something positive to focus on other than their worries.

Dog Benefit #4: Increased Activity

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Dogs need to be walked and depending on their size, age, and breed, they can need quite a lot of walking and running!

Walking the dog means that you’re walking, too, and a dog who really has to pee is a great motivator for getting up and out.

Whether you’re taking a stroll around the block, running in the park, or throwing a ball, you and your dog are both beingactive.

Dog Benefit #5: Depression Management

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People dealing with or recovering from depression are, many times, advised to get a pet.

Besides their calming nature, pets also provide unconditional love and affection, which boosts the mood.

Their needs, such as walking, feeding, and grooming, also help those with depression find a sense of purpose and motivation.

Dog Benefit #6: Strengthened Bones And Joints

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Walking or jogging with your dog does more than get you in shape and manage your weight.

It’s also a great way to build up strength in your bones and joints, making them less susceptible to brittleness later in life.

This is especially important for women who are at risk for osteoporosis.

Dog Benefit #7: Improved Heart Health

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By getting you to exerciseand lowering your stress levels and blood pressure, it’s no secret that people with dogs tend to have better heart health than those without.

People who have hadheart attacks are also more likely to live longer if they have a dog, and men in particular are shown to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels if they’re dog owners.

Dog Benefit #8: Boosted Immune Systems

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There’s no delicate way to put it: Dogs can be downright gross. They like to chew on things, roll in things, and get into all kinds of nasty business.

And while hand washing and cleaning up are, of course, good things, being exposed to a little grime is actually good for you, as it kicks your immune system into action and bolsters you against more kinds of germs.

This is especially true for young children, whose immune systems are still developing.

Dog Benefit #9: Attention To Health

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Caring for a dog reminds us to care for ourselves, too.

Dogs that take medication can also help us remember to take our own meds, and to do so more regularly.

Visits to the vet might also remind you to make doctor appointments for yourself as well!

Dog Benefit #10: Social Opportunities

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How many times has someone asked to pet your dog, only to strike up a conversation?

Dogs are great conversation-starters, and walking your dog in public will bring you into contact with people you might normally never see.

Social interaction has its own slew of health benefits, and your dog is the perfect icebreaker.

Dog Benefit #11: Scientific Advancements

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Dogs and humans can get similar types of cancer, and studying cancer in pets has led us to better understandings and treatments of cancer in humans.

In addition, some labs are working to train “cancer-sniffing” dogs that can detect early stage cancers by smell alone, helping people get earlier diagnoses and treatment which is really amazing!

Dog Benefit #12: Improved Sleep

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Many people can’t imagine sleeping without their beloved pet nearby. The simple act of being close is comforting to many people, and in the winter, dogs add some extra warmth, too!

Some people don’t prefer their dogs to sleep on the bed, but still like having their dog in the same room. But either way, dogs are basically like a living security blanket for many.

If you always knew your dog was helping you out, let us know in the comments, andSHAREthese amazing facts with anyone thinking about getting a furry friend of their own!

Read more: http://www.littlethings.com/dogs-and-your-health/