Can Owning a Dog Increase Life Expectancy?

As the saying goes, "dog is man's best friend," and now we have proof. Pets, especially dogs, can help you live a longer life. Various studies by the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association and universities confirm that dog ownership can help you live a longer, healthier and more productive life.

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Cardiovascular Health

Dog owners get more exercise just by taking their dog out for a walk. The American Heart Association says that 54 percent of dog owners are likely to get the recommended amount of exercise for good health. All this exercise lowers cardiovascular risks and cholesterol levels, making pet owners more healthy and more likely to live longer lives.

Lower Blood Pressure

Due to the calming effect petting a dog has on people, dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure than those who do not own pets. Dog owners lower blood pressure also may be due to the amount of exercise they get.

Socially Connected

Dogs can help you stay socially connected, which is vitally important for people who are at risk of social isolation. Walking with a dog often leads to more conversations and more connections with people. The National Institute of Health states that people who have more social contact and more friends live longer and are unlikely to decline as quickly as those who do not.

Anti-Depressant

Studies done at St. Louis University and Miami University by psychologists showed that pet owners were less likely to suffer from depression, had higher self-esteem and experienced less loneliness. When people see dogs, their brains release endorphins, which are natural antidepressants.

Visiting Therapists

Dogs are used more and more for therapy in hospitals. Although few studies have been done on therapy dogs and the effects on patients, most clinicians say they can see the benefits, according to the National Institutes of Health. Dogs help patients by reducing their anxiety and improving their mood. These benefits clearly help patients heal and may help improve the prognosis for their illness.

By M.B. Lachlei


References
The Atlantic: Live Like Royalty: The Many Health Benefits of Dogs, Man's Best Friend
Vetinfo:The Health Benefits of Owning a Dog
Organic Authority: 4 Reasons to Get A Dog, For Your Health
Animal Planet:Can owning a pet help you live longer?
NIH News In Health: Can Pets Help Keep You Healthy?
Reuters:Pets may help cut heart disease risk: American Heart Association
CBS news: American Heart Association: Pets, Especially Dogs, Good for the heart

About the Author
M.B. Lachlei is an award-winning author of more than 30 pet and science-fiction/fantasy books. She is also the publisher of Sky Warrior Books.