woman dog running desert dunesEveryone’s heard of the phrase that a dog is a man’s best friend. Did you know however, that dogs can actually help you live longer? According to an article on the Independent, a study conducted by Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association, determined that “dog ownership may be associated with longer life and better cardiovascular outcomes, especially for heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone.” The study evaluated a sample of 3.8 million people drawn from at least 10 different studies. Researchers concluded that individuals who owned dogs were 65% less likely to die following a heart attack. 

According to the study, “researchers found that compared to non-owners, dog owners experienced a: 

  • 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality
  • 65% reduced risk of mortality after heart attack
  • 31% reduced risk of mortality due to cardiovascular-related issues.”

In what ways can a dog affect your health?

Dogs can be beneficial for your health in two major ways. Physical and mental well-being. 

Physical Well-being

First and foremost, having a dog in itself, means you have to take it out for exercise. This in turn, will force you to be more active in your daily life. Taking a walk around the block for 30 minutes to an hour may seem rudimentary at first, but engaging in any physical activity once a day is required for the human body to function properly. A dog can be the first step into leading you away from a sedentary lifestyle which as we know, has many adverse health effects. Overtime, exercise won’t seem like such a hassle or challenge. It will transition into your daily routine because of your dog. As a result, you will take a more active approach on life, not just because of your dog, but because you enjoy doing it. And that will be because your dog will have nudged you in the right direction.

Mental Well-being

One often overlooked aspect of dog ownership is the fact that they can help boost your mental well-being. Yes, it’s true that owning a dog brings many hardships including potential property damage, veterinary bills, schooling, nutrition and the heartache when they leave us behind. However, all of these things combined are nothing compared to the value they bring in our lives. Dogs will bond with you for life, form partnerships, friendships and create irreplaceable memories. To a dog, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what you do for a living. They only think of you as their best friend and will give you the love and attention you deserve no matter what. 

Dogs can help with depression and better your social life

corgi-walking-desert-dunes-animal-hospitalHaving a dog around will decrease the isolation aspect that single individuals feel. This can lead to lower rates of depression. Having a companion that you interact and do activities with daily, is tremendously valuable to one’s emotional state. Humans do not thrive in isolation, they require connections and companionship. A dog can help in that department, especially for people who are recovering from a major health injury.  Dog owners experience less social isolation amongst themselves and more social interaction with other people. Taking your dog out for a walk around the block or even to let them run loose at a local park will lead you to meeting new people. You can find fellow dog owners and non dog owners to start conversations with and possibly even become friends. In addition, not only will you meet new people because of your dog, your furball can make new friends as well.

How a dog effects heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone

“Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profile in previous reports,” said Caroline Kramer, M.D. Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and an Endocrinologist and Clinician scientist at Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes at Mount Sinai Hospital. As a result of these effects, dog owners lived longer and faced less cardiovascular issues.

Having a dog drastically changes your life. Researchers believe that owning one can lead to better fitness and a healthier lifestyle overall. Having a companion can help ease the burden of loneliness. A dog will help guide you along the right path and open up new opportunities, you didn’t know you had. They are after all, man’s best friend.