It’s no coincidence that dogs are man’s best friend. Science has proven time and again the many physical and emotional health benefits of owning a dog. This August 26, salute your four-legged friend and all he does for your wellbeing on National Dog Day. Read on for Atkins list of reasons to celebrate National Dog Day.
1. Dogs encourage their owners to be more active.
Dogs require daily exercise, as anyone who’s ever been nudged repeatedly by a cold nose can attest. A Canadian study found that dog owners walked an average of five hours per week, whereas people who didn’t own dogs clocked less than three hours of walking per week.
2. Dogs are good for heart health.
Dogs do wonders for the heart beyond providing unconditional love. According to the American Heart Association, owning a dog is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Pet owners also have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
3. Dogs can help ward off allergies.
Exposure to dogs in infancy can lower a child’s likelihood of developing allergies and other respiratory illnesses by nearly 33%. Additionally, studies have shown that children exposed to animals early on have more robust immune systems. One theory is that dogs bring germs and bacteria into the house and in turn, the family’s children start to build up their tolerance.
4. Dogs relieve anxiety.
Many universities, including Harvard, have recently begun bringing therapy dogs to campus to help alleviate stress. During study breaks, students are encouraged to cuddle, pet, and hold the dogs, which can boost levels of serotonin and dopamine. Hospitals and nursing homes have long urged their patients to take advantage of Animal-Assisted Therapy or Pet-Facilitated Therapy.
5. Dogs can help their owners be more social.
Pooches can inadvertently encourage their owners to mix and mingle. For example, if you were looking for things to do with your dog, you might visit a dog park or outdoor café and strike up a conversation with other dog owners.