The health benefits of owning a dog

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On the occasion of International Dog Day, an online family doctor service has compiled the health benefits of owning a dog.

The commentary, compiled by Push Doctor’s Chief Medical Officer Dan Bunstone, focuses on why dogs can have a positive impact on our health, well-being, mental health, and long-term fitness.

Mr. Bunstone, who is also the director of the Chapelford Medical Center, shared the following information:

How Owning a Dog Can Improve Your Mental Health and Wellbeing

“There’s a reason dogs are called man’s best friend. They ensure camaraderie, a sense of responsibility and can help keep us motivated and active.

“Research from Duke University has shown that a dog can cause the release of oxytocin, a hormone that allows us to form a strong bond with our pet.

READ MORE: International Dog Day: 100 cute pictures of our furry friends of our readers

“Not only does this reduce feelings of loneliness, but a dog’s awareness of human distress signals – which has led to its useful role as therapy dogs – helps it comfort or distract us during times of high stress or anxiety.”

Teddy and Nana

How Owning a Dog Can Improve Our Moods and Happiness

“Dog company has been shown to increase our levels of dopamine and serotonin – the hormones that help us stay calm and relaxed.

“Also, just a few minutes of contact with a dog can lower levels of cortisol, the body’s own ‘stress’ hormone which, when high, can lead to increased adrenaline levels in the body, which can cause symptoms of anxiety.

“Aside from the hormones, owning a dog can also improve our social interactions.

“A study by Emery University has shown that dog owners are more confident with their pets and are therefore more likely to get into conversation with new people they meet while walking.”

Ozzie and his owner

Ozzie and his owner

The influence of a dog on our fitness

“Having a dog can certainly keep you active.

“BMC Public Health has reported that 87% of dog owners achieve the recommended amount of physical activity per week – 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise – while only 47% of non-dog owners achieve this amount.

“One study found that two-thirds of dog owners took their pet for a walk at least once a day and were less likely to cancel their fitness plans than those without a dog.

“This not only includes going for a walk – dog owners have been shown to spend 69% more free time on physical activities at home, which has a positive effect on their fitness and general health.”