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The Health Benefits of Owning a Dog

By Stepy Kamei

When you walk down the street going about your busy day, do you ever find yourself perking up a bit and smiling a little easier if you see a dog coming your way? Whether or not you consider yourself a "dog person," most people will agree that even just passing by a happy dog can do wonders to boost their spirits. Of course, any dog owner will be happy to tell you that owning a pet is one of the great joys of life. Once again, this isn't necessarily something that "dog people" will simply say over and over again without any meaning behind it. That's because numerous studies have shown that people who own dogs, or at least spend a significant time around dogs on a regular basis, tend to experience a wealth of benefits to their physical and mental health. Read on to learn more about the (sometimes surprising) health benefits of owning a friendly canine companion.

Dogs Can Improve Your Physical Health

Many dogs love to cuddle up to their favorite humans, and we like it too! That's because it naturally releases the hormone oxytocin, which is known to reduce stress and generally boost a person's mood. Furthermore, scientists have found that the seemingly simple act of petting a dog can actually physically lower a person's blood pressure in real time. That's a pretty powerful health benefit for such a small yet sweet gesture.

Furthermore, dogs tend to be physically active, which encourages us to be more physically active as a result. Dogs should receive at least one long walk each day, if not more. These walks can provide great exercise for us humans as well!

Dogs Provide Helpful Boosts to Mental Health as Well

This shouldn't be such a surprising fact. Dogs have been revered for thousands of years for their simple yet easy ability to cheer us up. Furthermore, spending time with them outdoors can keep us from feeling depressed or anxious, as outdoor activities tend to combat stress and boost our mood naturally. Simply put, dogs are naturally loving creatures who provide consistent companionship and enough gentle prodding for us humans to stay active and optimistic throughout the day.

What if You Can't Own a Dog?

Unfortunately, not everyone can commit to owning a dog, even if they want to. Maybe it's too much of a financial strain, or your living situation does not allow for pets. If you're unable to comfortably take care of a dog, it's in everyone's best interest to avoid taking on that commitment, at least for the near future. Still, you may want to consider volunteering at your local shelter for some quality dog time. You'll be providing dogs with companionship and helping them adjust to human contact -- making them more suitable for adoption -- and you'll feel great knowing you're helping out dogs in need while soaking up some quality dog time!

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Weston, Fla. 

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