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The Various Health Benefits Of Owning A Dog

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A lot of people would like a pet, but there always seems to be at least one person in the household who doesn’t agree with it. While it is important to come to a mutual agreement within a family, if you happen to be the one who is pro-pet and you are trying to convince the one who is reluctant to accept it, the following information may be of benefit to you. You see, the fact is that owning a pet, particularly a dog, is actually good for your health. It has long been known that it is important for children to own a pet, because it teaches them about care, responsibility and independence. However, the fact that pets are good for everybody’s health has long been overlooked. So what are some of these health benefits?

Having a Pet Can Lower People’s Chances of Getting Allergies

One of the main reasons why people are often reluctant to have pets is because of allergies. While it is certainly true that someone who is already allergic will have a terrible time if a pet is introduced to the household, pets can actually help reduce the chances of getting allergies, which is very important particularly if you have children who have a genetic disposition that increases their likelihood of developing allergies.

University of Wisconsin-Madison pediatrician James E. Gern has conducted a number of studies that demonstrate having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. In fact, his research — as published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology — shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.

If you have children, therefore, getting a pet in the house is actually doing them a favor in terms of their long term health.

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Having a Pet Is Good for Your Heart

There are many reasons why having a pet is good for the heart.

Heart attack patients who have pets survive longer than those without, according to several studies. Male pet owners have less sign of heart disease — lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels — than non-owners, researchers say.

While this is true for all pet owners, dog owners will see even greater benefits. This is because dogs require frequent walks, which means people have to go outside as well and get moving. This increase in fitness is incredibly beneficial for overall health, but particularly heart health as it is low impact and low intensity cardio.

Dogs Fight Depression

This is another very important benefit of having a dog. You have probably heard of registered service dogs, such as guide dogs for the blind and alert dogs for people with epilepsy. However, there are now also so-called ‘therapy dogs’, which are basically well-behaved dogs. The presence of a dog, particularly with its warm and gentle love, helps people reduce levels of anxiety and depression.

Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than non-pet owners. Even for those people who do become clinically depressed, having a pet to take care of can help them out of a depressive episode, in some cases more effectively even than medication.

The presence of a dog is sufficient to lower anxiety and depression levels. Actually having to take care of one, however, is even more effective. This is because owning a dog means sticking to a routine. It means caring for the well-being of someone else, someone who is almost ridiculously grateful for that care. It means getting out of the house to walk the dog and always having a trusted companion. It is the perfect way to feel happier and get healthier, in other words.

They Reduce the Chances of Eczema

Just as dogs can help reduce the chances of getting allergies, they can also reduce the chances of eczema.

However, preliminary research showed that children were significantly less likely to develop eczema by age 4 if they began mingling with dogs at infancy. The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2011, followed 636 children and found the rate of eczema was lower among kids who lived with a family dog.

Interestingly, it was even determined that if children were known to be sensitive to allergens from dogs, they still would not start to develop eczema in the presence of a dog, and some even noticed an improvement. It is very important to understand that this was a reasonably small-scale study and that the results have not been peer reviewed yet, but it is certainly promising in terms of people who have issues with their skin.

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Dogs Help You to Stay Connected

Dogs have been called absolute date magnets, which is true if you are actually looking for a date. And even if you are happily in a relationship or if you intend to stay single for the rest of your life, dogs can help you to stay socially connected.

Maintaining a social network isn’t always easy as you grow older. Retirement, illness, death, and relocation can take away close friends and family members. And making new friends can get harder. Dogs are a great way for older adults to spark up conversations and meet new people.

If there is a green area near where you live, you are guaranteed to see dog walkers there. Dog owners tend to be part of a little community. Their dogs start to play with each other and the dog owners start to strike up a conversation with each other as well. They are a truly amazing social tool and, particularly with elderly people, have even been known to help reduce isolation.

As you can see, if you were thinking about getting a dog but someone else in your household is not overly keen on the idea, you now have all the information you need to change that person’s mind. You will, in actual fact, be doing him or her a favor by getting a dog.

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Written by Ingrid Macher

Certified Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Motivator - I have a passion for helping people change their lives. I started out helping my friends and now I give advice and tips to perfect strangers who have now become my friends. I love what I do and I wouldn’t change my life even if I could. This kind of happy is truly a gift and I’ll do whatever it takes to be able to give this gift to others.