5 Health benefits of taking care of (and bonding with) your dog

By: Jasmine V.

Nothing beats having a friend you can depend on. When times get rough and life becomes a challenge, it’s a great feeling to come home to a furry friend who will always be there to love you unconditionally. They remind you that you have so much to live for and that no matter what, everything will be just fine.

Aside from the emotional support our pets have to offer, they can benefit multiple areas of our health as well. Bonding with a dog can give you a sense of connectedness, responsibility, an active lifestyle, and stronger overall health. To better understand each of these health benefits, let us explore them together!

1. Connected companionship

Bonding with your dog can guarantee you have a loyal and loving companion for years to come. More specifically, when it comes to mental health, the time spent with your dog can even reverse the effects of depression and feeling alone.

Dogs are very sensitive to their owner’s emotions. They can sense shifts that take place as soon as they happen! For example, a dog may lean themselves against you in the nick of time when you are feeling under the weather, or curl up beside you when you’re feeling overwhelmed—showing their support for you in their own way. Dogs also tend to rest right at your feet or somewhere on your lap. This can be uplifting and comforting, reminding you that your roll dog is ready to support, love, and be right by your side, every step of the way!

2. Lower your stress

Stress can certainly make people feel overwhelmed and anxious but researchers have found that bonding with dogs can lower the stress hormone cortisol and as a result, people feel happier. Petting your dog regulates your breathing, lowers your blood pressure and regulates your mental activity. When playing with your dog, your body releases two chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, which both play a role in stress management and can improve your overall health.

3. Maintain a healthy weight

Spending quality time with your dog often means going out and getting your steps in. Aside from the necessary outdoor walks, there are many other activities you can do with your dog, such as yoga, visiting local parks, or maybe even swimming. Over time, your body will begin to adjust to a more active lifestyle, toning the muscles that are now active. Before you know it, you will feel healthier just from spending time with your furry friend!

As you grow older, bonding with your dog creates a lifestyle where limited range of motion is a thing you’d never have to worry about. Having a pup drives you to explore the great outdoors, which at the same time improves your physical body. Just the thought of your dog’s support in your physical health creates a healthy life guaranteed!

4. Unity for immunity

Since dogs spend a great amount of time outdoors, they can bring different kinds of germs and bacteria home with them. Surprisingly, this can actually have a positive impact on the health of pet owners. These germs can spread to you or other pets in your home. Over time, a human’s immune system builds a stronger defense against these bacteria, making your body less susceptible to sickness or infection.

For parents with infants, having a dog around can decrease the risks for the development of allergies and even asthma. Studies show this is due to a gut microbe called Lactobacillus Johnsonii. Exposure to dogs can improve your child’s exposure to the external environment. So, regardless of age, the more time you spend with your dog the more your immune system improves.

5. Responsibility is rewarding

While having a dog is fun and ensures a lifelong companion, taking care of your pup is certainly a big responsibility. The closer you become to your dog, the more you can intuitively pick up on their needs and wants.

Making your dog’s health and wellbeing a priority will help you feel fulfilled. Knowing you are not just living for yourself but are responsible for another life can be rewarding. Just like humans, your dog will need routine check-ups with their vet to keep them as healthy as possible. Beyond just routine care, your dog may become sick, injured, or suffer from conditions that require more urgent care, which can come with unexpected costs.

This is where pet insurance can help. Having pet insurance is great for first-time pet owners since it can cover a significant percentage of vet bills. Having coverage grants you peace of mind, knowing you won’t have to skimp on care with a more cost-effective “Plan B” during health emergencies—you’ll get the best care for your best friend without draining your savings or charging up a high-interest credit card.

Just as important as having pet insurance is knowing how to use it! If you choose pet insurance, sign up as soon as you get a dog to minimize the risk of denied claims due to pre-existing conditions. Know what per incident and yearly limits are, and the premiums and deductibles. You can customize plans to fit your needs, including choosing zero-deductible plans.

The bottom line

Spending quality time with your dog can have even more health benefits than what we discussed in these five examples. The positive impacts on your health will continue through every adventure as long as your pup is by your side. Consider that a prescription we all can benefit from.

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