Why Get a Dog? Better Health, for One Thing

Why Get a Dog? Better Health, for One Thing

A dog can be your best friend—and a benefit to your health as well. Here are some ways owning a dog can keep you hale and hearty in mind as well as body:

• More exercise. Just walking the dog gets you out of the house, but most dog owners do more than dash out for a few minutes once or twice a day. You’ll take longer walks and get more exercise once you’re outside with your pooch.

• Better mental health. Studies suggest that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression and other mental health problems. The affection they get from their pets is one factor, along with the need to focus on their pets’ welfare and be more active.

• Illness prevention. Dogs may have the ability to smell cancer in your body, detect low blood sugar, sense foods that their owners are allergic to (such as peanuts), and help people through seizures. Some of these talents require specialized training; others may be at least somewhat instinctive.

• Allergy resistance. Children growing up in a house with dogs seem less likely to develop allergies later in life. Check with your pediatrician, of course, and research which breeds are best suited for young children before going to your local shelter.

• Happier social life. When you’re out on walks and exercising with your dog, people will naturally gravitate toward you to ask questions about your pet. Many people form meaningful friendships within their group of dog owners.