From researching the best dog food diets to becoming an expert on the specifics of your dog's breed, pet parents do a lot to make sure their pups stay healthy. This month, however, researchers at the American Heart Association discovered that dogs are returning the favour. After reviewing ten studies that were published between 1950 and 2019, they found that dog owners live longer than people who don't have dogs.
Yes, that's right. If you have a dog, there's a higher likelihood that you'll live a longer life. In fact, there's a 24% risk reduction for all causes of death. The result is even higher (31%) when it comes to cardiovascular health issues. Your dog is literally good for your heart.
One of the suspected reasons for this boost in heart health is the required exercise that comes with dog ownership. Walking your dog for 20-30 minutes per day meets the American Heart Association's recommended weekly activity of 150 minutes of moderate exercise. Next time you're feeling lazy but your dog is signalling at the door, remember that a walk will be good for both of you, and, of course, your carpet.
Another positive side effect from dog ownership is reduced stress, isolation and loneliness. A different 2019 study researching people with chronic back pain found that living with a dog resulted in higher levels of socialization with humans and lower rates of depression and anxiety. This makes sense to us. Many pet parents know that getting a dog is the quickest way to make friends in your neighbourhood or strike up conversation with a stranger at the dog park. All of these social interactions are good for your mental health.
Even if you take away the human element, dogs provide mental health support with their unconditional love. They have been found to be successful social supports for children, elderly and chronically ill people. If you're interested in getting a dog that's suited for mental health support, check out our list of the top 10 therapy dogs.
That being said, you shouldn't rush into dog ownership just because it's good for your health. There are a lot of responsibilities that come with being a pet parent and it's not a decision you should take lightly. A good place to start is Pawzy's dog breed selector tool which can recommend the best breeds for your lifestyle. It takes factors such as living space, activity level and size into consideration.
For anyone who already has a dog, cheers to a healthy life with your furry pal! Now that you've learned about how your dog positively influences your wellbeing, why not thank your dog with a treat and a belly rub? They deserve it!