Dog owners will attest that their lives have changed tremendously thanks to the arrival of their four-legged buddies. For many people, dogs are more than just pets; they are significant allies in the search for health and vitality.
A healthy heart’s best friend
Dogs are known to provide joy, but did you know they’re also beneficial for your heart? According to the American Heart Association, “owning a dog is associated with a 17 percent lower risk of death, especially deaths caused by cardiovascular disease, which were found to be 20 percent less likely.”
The canine fitness connection
The connection between dog ownership and physical activity is unmistakable. According to Dr. Glenn Levine, a cardiologist, “This is because most people who own a dog will take it for regular walks, and increased physical activity is clearly beneficial to cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular health.”
Cuddles for stress relief
Have you ever wondered why the presence of a dog feels like a warm hug for the soul? Dr. Levine adds, “It is not implausible to speculate that people who own dogs have one more companion, are less lonely if they’re living single, probably have less anxiety. We know dogs are a good ‘treatment’ for acute stress.”
Establishing a healthy routine
Dog ownership comes with regular care routines that provide structure and purpose. Dr. Levine notes that “the sense of responsibility we feel toward our pets can inspire us to take better care of ourselves, encouraging us to adopt healthier habits like smoking less, adhering to medication regimens, and attending medical appointments.”
Sharper minds with a furry friend
Cognition often declines with age, but dog owners are defying the odds. According to Erika Friedmann Ph.D., professor of psychology, “Dog owners had increased cognitive abilities as measured on two tests—the Boston naming test, which assesses language, and the Digit Symbol Substitution test, which correlates with a person’s ability to do everyday tasks.”
Creating social connections
Walking a dog may transform a solo trek into a social adventure. According to a participant in a 10-day British experiment on reducing isolation, “On the days she was accompanied by a dog, she had three times more interactions compared to the days she went about her activities alone.” Dogs become conversation openers, helping to create lasting connections.
While experts agree that adopting a dog should be motivated by love and responsibility, they also underline the importance of creating dog-friendly surroundings in age-friendly communities. From dog walkers to medical treatment, ensuring our canine companions’ well-being contributes to the health and pleasure of their owners. Our animal pals are staunch allies in the joyful adventure of life, giving vigor, joy, and friendship at every step.