• Dogs are scientifically-proven to benefit us in a number of ways and improve our overall health (both physical and mental).
  • For one, pet owners tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure because they’re more inclined to get out of the house and stay active.
  • Owning a pet can also lead to stress reduction, as simply petting your dog releases feel-good hormones.
  • Your pup also makes you feel less lonely, which leads to a boost in self-esteem.
  • And if you have kids, you can rest assured they’ll reap these benefits as well!

Fur baby, floof, cuddle buddy, or BFF—no matter what you call your furry companion, it’s the undeniable truth that dogs have magical healing properties. Or at least every loving dog owner claims. Some of the non-believers out there may ask for proof. So here are the hard, scientific facts.

Being a dog owner is a rewarding experience unlike any other. Dogs offer companionship, daily exercise, and someone to come home to each evening. But a dog is man’s best friend for more than just these reasons. In fact, dogs have been shown to provide overall health benefits for their human companions. Check out below why a man’s best friend is good for the heart—literally!

Pups Reduce Blood Pressure

According to information shared by the CDC, pet owners tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure. This doesn’t mean that pets directly lower blood pressure. That would hint that they do actually emit some sort of supernatural power (which still hasn’t been disproved). However, having a dog encourages owners to get out of the house more on walks, chase Buddy for the sock he stole, and get up periodically to satisfy the pat-demanding pooch.

More exercise results in overall lower blood pressure, which leads to better health and wellbeing. Most pet owners know that dogs need to be walked, and see it more of a necessary obligation than something they can avoid. Pet owners are more inclined to go on daily walks if their furry friend depends on it, similar to prioritizing your human children’s needs above your own. This movement helps reduce blood pressure.

Four-Legged Friends Alleviate Stress

People who own pets tend to have higher levels of overall wellbeing than those who don’t. Stress can be alleviated by owning a pet, which may explain why watching animal videos on YouTube is often an equally satisfying alternative after a long day.

In fact, the simple act of petting your dog can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels. Pets are sometimes even used as therapy in hospitals, rehab centers, and senior homes. Science shows that dogs are just as apt at providing much needed social support as humans, combating loneliness and anxiety. Dogs are non-judgmental and will accept you as you are. What’s not to like about that?

Doggies Boost Self-Esteem

Dogs have rightly earned the coveted title of man’s best friend for several reasons. At the end of the day, when you are tired and worn-out, there is nothing better than coming home to someone excited to see you (even when your roommates, partner, or kids may not be). Dogs help reduce loneliness, which according to several sources, is becoming a modern-day epidemic.

We live in an age when the United Kingdom recently appointed a Minister of Loneliness to help citizens cope with emotional isolation. Having a friend to talk to, who unconditionally loves you back isn’t such a bad idea in a time when most social interactions are left for the Internet.

Fido Makes Your Kids Healthier Too

Do you have precious childhood memories running after the family dog? Children have much to gain from early exposure to animals. In a study about dog allergies and eczema, it was found that kids with dog allergies who were raised around dogs were less likely to suffer from eczema, a condition that makes skin itchy and inflamed, later on. On the other hand, children with cat allergies who grew up around cats were several times more likely to have eczema a few years down the road.

Of course, children also enjoy the same benefits as adults, including reduced stress, increased fitness, and a more positive sense of self. Childhood may be one of the toughest phases for self-esteem, and dogs are always there to remind you that you’re someone’s favorite person.

Your Pride and Joy Boosts Fitness

What better way to get your daily exercise in than a walk with your dog? Several studies have shown that dog owners have higher levels of fitness than those who are missing out on one of life’s greatest joys. Dogs require daily exercise, and many dog walkers get in their steps with their furry friends. Physical and mental health are directly connected, so those daily walks can actually be having a domino effect for your health. Is it really possible to power through a Netflix binge when Frankie is staring longingly out the window? No, because you’re a good dog parent.

Dogs look out for us without even meaning to. There is no one more loyal or pure-intentioned than your four-legged friend. They provide us with essential health benefits, many of which we barely even think about. Feeling down? Give that good creature a pat.

*Brett Farmiloe is a contributing writer for Online Counseling Programs, an online resource for counseling degrees, mental health education and related professions. He is also a backyard chicken farmer who frequently contributes content to Forbes and Huffington Post.*

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