Dogs are man’s best friend for good reason! They’re loyal companions, fun playmates, always excited to see us and can be fierce protectors. On top of all the snuggles, or perhaps because of all the snuggles, dogs are impeccable at keeping us healthy!
To any dog parent, it’s obvious how much better we feel when we see our dog after a long day of work or enjoy the peace we gain going for an evening walk with them. But science tells us that these benefits are more than just a feeling—it turns out being a ‘dog person’ and having one or more dogs in your home can have a positive impact on your health. Here’s some of the amazing ways dogs make us healthier.
Increased physical fitness and exercise
If you’re a dog family, chances are you’re going for walks more often than families without a pup. There’s been a lot of research that shows just how much more likely dog people are to meet their exercise needs.
- A study out of Michigan State University found that people who walk their dogs are 34 percent more likely to walk at least 150 minutes a week than someone who doesn’t.
- Another study out of the UK said dog people are 4x more likely to meet their 150 minutes of physical activity per week than non-dog people.
It’s clear---dogs make great exercise partners - IF they’re loose leash walking and it’s a fun adventure for all! If your dog is struggling with leash pulling on your walks, check out this How to Leash Train Your Dog article from professional dog trainer, Irith Bloom.
Chronic disease prevention
Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are terrible illnesses that can lead to serious medical complications. Did you know walking your dog can help prevent these diseases?
According to researcher Cindy Lentino,people who walk their dogs are less likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol compared to people who didn’t have dogs. While there are a lot of factors that can contribute to any of these chronic diseases, it’s pretty amazing that a leisurely walk with your dog can help so much.
Pro Tip: Daily walks are GREAT for our health, but they can get a bit boring for our pups. Try incorporating something new or different along your walk. Find out if your dog might like to try his paw at scent work with #5 on our list of fun ways to stimulate your dog’s brain.
Improved mental health
Dogs can be an incredible source of comfort and motivation and caring for one (or two or three!) can help our mental health tenfold. Our pups provide a sense of security and the companionship of our four-legged furbabies can do wonders for easing anxiety, curing isolating vibes, and even boosting our self-confidence!
Plus… Did you know that kids who grow up with dogs experience a lot of social-emotional benefits too? According to researchers at the University of Western Australia, kids can see these benefits:
- Self-esteem boost: Dogs offer unconditional love and total acceptance. They don’t care what we look like and don’t hold our weaknesses against us. Having a best bud that never judges you and is always happy to see you is great for yours and your kid’s self-esteem.
- Developing responsibility: Taking them for walks. Giving them fresh water. Making sure they are fed on time. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with taking care of a pet. Kids with dogs in the home can take on some very important caretaking responsibilities, a skill that’ll help them in every area of life.
- Increased empathy: Dogs rely totally on their humans. When kids live with a dog, they’re along for the highs and the lows of their bud’s life. With the guidance of their parent or guardian, kids learn how to empathize with others and how to handle their emotions in healthy ways.
- Less behavior issues: Turns out kids who learn to play properly with their dog transfer that skill to playing appropriately with other children. Researchers discovered that young children with dogs are less likely to have issues with their peers and less likely to show behavior issues overall.
If you have a dog and you want to improve your health, you’re barking up the right tree! These benefits are only the beginning. Scientists are continually uncovering health advantages of a furry best friend. If you’re interested in learning more, take a peek at Harvard Medical School’s Get Healthy, Get a Dog report.
As dog people, we don’t need more reasons to love dogs, but it’s nice to have such a fact-backed pros list! If you’re looking for a way to thank your best buddy for all the walks he’s taken you on, a wholesome, all-natural treat is the way to go!
Our Big Bite dog biscuit comes in four nutritious and delicious flavors—peanut butter, cheddar, chicken and lamb and rice. But be warned… They’re so delicious, you’ll probably have to wipe up a little drool.