Published: 12:00, 05 October 2017
There are so many good reasons to own a dog, the most obvious being that they’re great fun, they give you unconditional love in return for food, warmth and exercise, and of course they’re adorable.
But if you still need more persuading, check out these ways a household hound can actually make you healthier.
Hug your way to a healthy heart
Stroking your dog feels lovely, and has the added bonus of reducing blood pressure. Scientists put this down to the oxytocin hormone that is released when you bond with your pet. This 'hug hormone' is the same chemical that’s released when you’re hugging a baby or loved one and actually helps to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. So when you’re stroking your pup on the sofa this evening, you can bask in the knowledge that your heart is benefitting, too.
Boost your immunity
According to experts, our germ-free homes are making us less resistant to illness. By constantly disinfecting every surface, we’re limiting exposure to germs and preventing our bodies from building up immunity. Bring a dog into the home and you’ll also bring its germs in, giving your body a chance to build up some antibodies – problem solved.
Get everyday exercise
If you’re someone who procrastinates about exercise, you’ll certainly benefit from owning a pooch. Dogs need regular walks, so you’ll have no excuse not to get out and about for a stroll in the park. Add some ball throwing into the equation and you’ll easily tot up your recommended half hour of daily exercise without even thinking about it.
Beat the blues
Dogs are brilliant for focusing the mind away from our own problems. Instead of thinking about what’s making you feel down, your dog will force you to think about their needs instead. They require routine and plenty of exercise, which are both good for battling depression.
Meet new people
Ever noticed groups of dog owners chatting in the park? Chances are they originally struck up a conversation over their furry friends. Owning a dog is a great way to meet people and bond over tales of slipper chewing. If your neighbours are also dog owners, you could even head out together for a sociable walk with your respective hounds.
Improve your mood
When you’ve had a hard day at work, nothing beats coming home to a furry friend. A wagging tail and enthusiastic panting are the best antidotes to stress and will instantly cheer you up. If a positive mindset helps us to stay healthy, then having a dog at home will bring dividends.
If you’re allergic to dog hair, this might seem counter-intuitive. However, growing up with a dog in the home can actually reduce your chances of developing allergies. Some researchers have even found that children who are exposed to four-legged friends are less likely to have eczema.
Beef up security
A barking dog might be annoying for the postman, but it could work to your advantage by deterring burglars. Even a small dog can have a loud bark, and that might just be enough to put off a potential intruder. If your dog makes you feel safer at home, you’ll be calmer, more relaxed and less likely to suffer from stress-related illness.
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