The Health Benefits of Having a Dog

Dogs are fun, cuddly and playful. But your pup does much than put a smile on your face. In fact, there are several proven health benefits to owning a dog. So much so, that one insurance company (Midland Life Insurance Company) include dog ownership as a factor in its medical screening for clients 75 years and older.


How can man’s best friend make you healthier? There are tons of ways:

  • Petting a dog lowers blood pressure and released a relaxation hormone in the body
  • Playing with a dog boosts serotonin and dopamine levels (brain chemicals that impact happiness)
  • Even just looking at one’s pet can boost oxytocin, the “feel-good” chemical of the brain
  • Dog owners are more likely to get regular, mild to moderate exercise
  • Owning a dog has been shown to help people lose weight and maintain a healthy body mass index
  • People with dogs have fewer visits to the doctor
  • Owning a dog can reduce your risk for heart disease
  • People who have had a heart attack live longer if they own a dog
  • Owning a dog leads to increased social interaction
  • Dog owners are less likely to have depression
  • In some cases, having a dog to care for can be more effective than medication for individuals with clinical depression
  • Babies who grow up around dogs are less likely to develop eczema
  • Babies in houses with dogs are healthier too, with fewer colds and ear infections in the first year
  • Kids with autism relate better to their classmates if there is a pet in the classroom
  • Alzheimer’s patients with a dog in the house experience fewer anxious outbursts
  • Dogs can even detect cancer, according to some studies and a growing number of anecdotes
  • Some canines can also smell it when their owner’s blood sugar drops—and sometimes nudge their owners to eat
  • Dog owners have been shown to be happier and more trusting, than people without pets

All of this is good news for dog owners, though the news that time spent with your pup keeps you healthy and feeling good may not be surprising to them. And if you’ve been considering getting a dog, these health benefits are a slew of great reasons to take action and bring a new furry friend into your home.