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FACT: Owning a dog makes you happier AND healthier

Owner with her French Bulldog smiling
© Shutterstock

Dog owners already know what it’s like to have that special bond with a canine pal. But what you may not know is that having a dog can actually make you healthier too.

By Zoe Monk, 26 Aug 2019

Regardless of their breed, hanging out with your four-legged friend can do wonders for your wellbeing. Here’s how:

Improve heart health

Dogs just don’t make your heart swell with love. They make it stronger too. Having a dog has been linked to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and decreases your levels of triglyceride which helps your overall heart health and reduces your risk of heart attacks. A study of 3.4 million people found that owning a dog saw a 23% reduction in people dying from heart disease. Meanwhile, the study also found that people had a 20% lower risk of dying from any other condition over the 12 years of the study. But if that’s not enough, dog owners who do have a heart attack have a better chance of survival than non-dog owners.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Keeps you fit and active

Dog owners are more likely to hit the recommended amount of exercise each week. A study by Lintbells found that dog owners walk 870 miles on average every year with the pets. Nearly half of the 2,000 British adults surveyed owned a dog, and walk on average over 21 miles each week, 17 with their canine pal. That's around seven miles more than non-dog owners. Well someone’s got to walk them and it’s a great way of exercising and helping you lose weight.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Improves your social life

For some people, it can be difficult to get out regularly to meet new people. But dog owners tend to be more outgoing and will often meet people out on their walks and stop and chat. Dogs can be a great ice breaker and dog owners love to talk about them, creating a great conversation starter.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Reduces the risk of depression

Out of any other pet, dogs have been found to have the strongest link to reducing loneliness and depression. In one study, more than 80% of people said that after just one month of getting a dog, they felt a lot less lonely. Dog owners are thought to be less likely to experience depression as dogs can help in so many areas of our health and wellbeing. They help prevent isolation and loneliness and give people a sense of purpose, a reason to get up and out each day.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Boosts self-esteem

Growing up with a dog can increase self-esteem in children, according to a study by the University of Liverpool. The author of the study, Rebecca Purewal said:

 “Critical ages for the impact of pet ownership on self-esteem, appear to be greatest for children under 6, and preadolescents and adolescents over 10.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Dogs can catch cancer early

Your dog could save your life. It is no secret that a dog has an amazing sense of smell. But some clever canines are actually able to detect cancer. Several pet owners believe their dog saved their lives after the animal kept pawing, sniffing and even licking at an area of the person’s skin which was found to be hiding a tumour.

So there you have it. Owning a dog is good for your heart, mind and body!