Having a dog offers companionship, gives you an excuse to exercise, brings you happiness and provides entertainment. But did you know that owning a dog can also have potential health benefits, both mentally and physically, for you and your family? There is scientific evidence that touts some of the health perks of owning a pup.
Take a look at how these six ways having a dog could be good for your health.
1. Stay active
Dogs need to be exercised. They can’t be cooped up all day without having the chance to get up and run around. Having a dog encourages owners to take them for walks, play fetch, and get moving. And we all know how good exercise is for our mental and physical health.
2. Boost your mood
Of course your dog is a good companion, maybe even your best friend. Having a dog can actually help improve mood and prevent depression in men or women. Pet owners only need to spend 15 to 30 minutes with their pet in order to feel more relaxed and calm. Spending time with your pooch can also raise the chemical levels in your brain associated with pleasure and tranquility.
3. Relieve stress
Dogs have a calming effect on humans and can be good at helping us relieve stress. Studies have shown that people who have a dog actually experience less cardiovascular reactivity during times of stress. During stressful situations, dog owners’ heart rates and blood pressure tend to rise less and they return to normal levels faster than their non-dog owner counterparts.
4. Protect from heart disease
Dogs can do more than get you exercise and boost your mood. They could extend your life and protect you from deadly diseases. Owning pets is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, Dog owners have been found to have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and experience fewer heart attacks than those who do not have pets.
5. Detect cancer
Some dogs can sniff out and detect skin, bladder, breast, colon, lung, and ovarian cancer. Specially trained dogs have been reported to sniff out skin moles and even bite them off.
6. Make your kids healthier
Not only are dogs good for their owner’s well being, but also a family who owns a dog can have healthier children. Kids who grow up with dogs in their homes tend to have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema. These same kids also tend to have fewer sick days than those kids who don’t have dogs, according to Science Daily.
So the next time your furry friend digs in your garden or causes you to have a hefty veterinarian bill, remember all the health benefits he/she is bringing to your family’s life. On the other hand, if your children have been begging you to get a dog as a family pet, remember while it may need potty training, it could also help reduce the number of sick days for you and your kids’ experience.
This article originally appeared on huffingtonpost.com