8 Ways Dogs Can Improve Our Health

golden retriever high fiving human hand

A dog can be a wonderful addition to our families. They make us laugh, are happy to see us, give us plenty of cuddles, and encourage us to play. In addition to everything that makes dogs great, they also make us healthier and enrich our lives. Here are a few ways dogs can improve our health:

1. Less Stress and Boosted Mood

There’s a reason dogs make great service, support, and therapy animals. Dogs help you stress less and boost your mood. The simple act of being in the same room as your dog can calm you down. And, petting your dog can lower your blood pressure and help you relax. Petting and cuddling your dog often soothes your dog and also soothes you too.

Plus, dogs boost your mood. Our pets bring us joy, make us happy, and love us unconditionally. Whether making you laugh with their comedic antics or making you have fun with some playtime, spending time with your dog makes you feel better. They’re also always willing to listen to you and offer you plenty of cuddles.

2. Improved Overall Health

Dogs require activity and exercise, which often means more exercise for you too. On top of regular exercise, your dog also helps you have a healthier heart. Due to walking more and stressing less, you’re less likely to develop heart disease when you have a dog and it can even help keep your cholesterol in check. Even if you’ve already had heart problems, having a dog around to keep you company and keep you active helps you heal and live a longer life.

3. Better Social Life

Dogs can also help you gain a better social life. At the very least, you have to leave the house to take them on walks. Dogs, especially those that are open and friendly to strangers, attract people and can help you connect with them. In addition to making contact out on walks, you also have opportunities to socialize with other dog owners by going to puppy training classes, dog parks, or dog-related events.

4. Sense of Security

We take care of our dogs and they take care of us too. Several people who live alone worry about intruders or burglars. Dogs, even if that’s not why you got them, often help ease this worry. Intruders and burglars are less likely to break into a house with a barking dog.

They’re looking for an easy target and a barking dog makes things more complicated. Aside from providing a sense of security for your home, snuggling with your dog can be like a security blanket for your soul. Just spending time with them can make you feel less lonely.

5. Improve Mental Health

Dogs often love unconditionally. This unconditional love may help with improving your mental health. Dogs will listen to you talk, even if they can’t respond. Plus, petting your dog can also help calm you.

Taking care of your dog also can help with mental health since it takes you out of yourself. Walking your dog, grooming and feeding them, and spending time with them can take your mind off of other things. These activities can be a welcome distraction and give you a sense of purpose.

6. Encourage Exercise

Another way dogs can improve health is by encouraging you to exercise. Dogs need to exercise daily or they can become bored, which may lead to destructive behavior and is one of the signs your dog isn’t getting enough exercise. Even getting out the door for just a 15 to 20-minute brisk walk with your dog each day is beneficial to your health.

Walking with your dog also allows them to explore their environment in a safe way. They’ll want to do plenty of sniffing on your walk, so make sure you have time for that. Letting your dog sniff is a great way to help them learn their environment and is a useful dog walking tip.

You can also bring your dog along on more intense athletic adventures. There are a lot of ways to exercise with your dog. Take your dog hiking or swimming, as long as they are fully grown and can handle that level of exercise. You can even do yoga (sometimes called doga) with your dog. You can try this at home on your own or look for classes at your local gym or community center.

6. Build Stronger Bones

Exercising with your dog isn’t just good for your cardiovascular health, it can also be good for your bones. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that builds your muscles and strengthens your bones. This is important because strong bones mean fewer breaks and injuries as you age. Getting out in the sun to walk your dog also will help you take in enough vitamin D which is also great for bone health. Just make sure to apply sunscreen first to protect your skin!

7. Soothe Chronic Pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, you probably know that certain types of pain can respond well to heat. Snuggling up with your dog can offer an excellent source of heat. If you have pain in a specific area, encourage your dog to sit next to you or even on you, if they’re small enough.

Their body heat can offer some relief as well as some much-needed company. Depending on your dog, you may even find them cuddling up to you during a flare-up on their own after sensing your stress.

8. Detect Medical Emergencies

If you or a family member have a seizure disorder or diabetes, your dog can be trained to alert you of upcoming episodes. There are many things dogs can smell that humans can’t and they can be trained to alert on certain changes.

Dogs can be trained to sense blood sugar drops. They can alert you of the change, allowing you time to find a snack to stabilize your blood sugar. Dogs can also be trained to notice epileptic episodes. They can be trained to either nudge you or bark to alert others to someone having a seizure. Dogs can also be trained to lie down next to the person having a seizure to protect them from harm.

Dogs can improve our health in many ways and certainly improve our lives simply by being in them. All of these and more are also how dogs help the elderly and help us all. Be sure to give your dog some extra love and care to return the favor.