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Dog Days are Here, and Should Remain

By Krista Elliott

Ever since man first domesticated dogs (or was it the other way around?) we've been spending our lives with these four-legged, furry companions. From Rin Tin Tin to Lassie to Benji, to the dogs of your childhood, all the way to the pooch lounging on your couch as you read this, dogs have provided companionship, entertainment, help, and awe-inspiring loyalty. 

A good dog owner makes sure that they do their best to take care of their dog's health, so that Rover (do people actually still name dogs Rover?) lives a long and healthy life. However, what you may not realize is that your dog is doing quite a bit to improve your health, both mental and physical. So while you're giving your dog its best chances for a long and healthy life, your dog is doing the exact same thing for you. 

How Dog Ownership Makes You Healthy

There are various ways in which one can benefit from pet ownership.

  • Time for Walkies - There's one thing that all dog breeds need in order to stay healthy and fit, and that's exercise. Some breeds just need a few strolls a day to go and do their business. Other dogs, like border collies, require multiple lengthy walks or runs every day to burn off their considerable energy. Either way, owning a dog requires putting on your running or walking shoes numerous times a day, getting you out and about. And surprisingly, multiple short bouts of exercise has shown to be better for your endurance and your cardiovascular health than one long session. 
  • Calming Care - Dog ownership is shown to reduce not only anxiety and stress, but also pain levels. In one interesting study, fibromyalgia patients "spending time with a therapy dog instead of in an outpatient waiting area at a pain management facility showed significant improvements in pain, mood and other measures of distress."
  • A Helping Paw for Depression - Having a dog has shown to be helpful for people with mild to moderate depression. A dog's unquestioning love and company, combined with its need to go outside multiple times a day, can provide a boost to people with depression. Having another living creature to hold can provide great comfort. And in some cases, having the responsibility of caring for their dog has provided a reason to keep on going even when things were at their lowest. 
  • Social Butterflies - Having positive social interactions is good for our emotional health. However, striking up a conversation with people can be awkward and daunting. Visiting the dog park with your pooch is a low-pressure way to meet new people and bond over the cute and funny things your dogs do. You may wind up making new friends, or at least reducing any social isolation you may feel. 

Yeah, so their breath may be stinky, and you may have to carry their poop in a plastic bag. But the benefits of having a dog far outweigh the drawbacks. So if you have a dog, go and thank it for making your life better, and give it an extra scratch behind the ears for all the ways in which having a furry friend has helped your health. 

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