How Dogs Can Improve Your Physical and Mental Health

October 17, 2017

Dogs are not only the most loyal companions, they are also here to help you reduce stress, cheer you up when you are feeling blue, take care of the children, and warn you when strangers are approaching. Just being around your dog and petting them decreases your stress levels and helps you relax.


There are several ways dogs can significantly improve our lives, both mentally and physically. They provide on-demand care and psychological counseling to people from all walks of life. Below are seven ways dogs can improve your physical and mental health.

1. Dogs provide a sense of calm

Dogs can reduce stress, in turn, improving our overall health. Dr. David Niven, author of “100 Simple Secrets Why Dogs Make Us Happy” stated that dogs reduce our stress levels nine times longer than the amount of contact. This means that for five minutes of contact therapy time with your dog, you are improving your health for 45 minutes.


These loving compadres are also known to comfort patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and lower blood pressure for those with heart disease. These types of service dogs come in all shapes and sizes, Labradors are a common service dog breed.

2. Dogs are great exercise buddies

Most dogs need daily exercise, helping their owners get healthy workouts simultaneously. Canines are very powerful motivators, forcing you into a routine. My dog knows he’s going on a walk after I get home from work every day and makes sure to remind me by jumping on my lap and licking my face.


Most of the time, the pace at which dogs walk meets the criteria for moderate or vigorous exercise. The fresh air is also a bonus, benefiting your heart and mind. Depending on the size and breed of your dog, you can take them on other adventures such as running or hiking. Dogs love the outdoors, so no matter where you take them or what you do, they will have a great time.

3. Dogs are socially supportive

Dogs can also be a social support, especially for shy owners. There are many social activities centered around dogs, especially in urban and suburban areas, providing both the pooches and their owners with opportunities to interact with others in the community.


Social interaction is one factor that contributes to a healthier life. Dogs can make breaking the ice with a new person much easier. You don’t need a cheesy pickup line if you have a friendly furry companion at your side!

4. Dogs build immune systems

Studies have shown that children raised around dogs have stronger immune systems than those who grow up with no pets in the home. The constant presence of the pooch’s fur can help children build up their respiratory system, resulting in lower incidences of asthma and allergies. Naturally, dirty dogs are the perfect tool to help children grow up to be healthier adults.

5. Dogs have a great sense of humor

Laughter is healthy for all of us. Dogs provide comic relief when it is most needed. They are extremely patient with people and allow themselves to be used as entertainment. Who else would let you play dress-up, take pictures, and post them all over the Internet?


Once they figure out what makes you laugh, they are very intuitive and continue the behavior, causing you to laugh even more. They love the attention they get, so they don’t mind if they end up as the butt of the joke. As long as their owners are laughing, all is well with the world.

6. Dogs love senior citizens

Our canine friends are extremely good for senior citizens. In addition to providing older owners with a purpose to live in caring for their dog, they also benefit Alzheimer’s patients. According to Dr. Lynette Hart from the University of California, Davis; Alzheimer’s patients have less anxious outbursts when they live with dogs.


One trip to the nursing home and a service dog can be the highlight of many people’s week. Some insurance companies will even ask clients who are over 75 if they have a pet as part of their screening interviews.

7. Dogs have a nose for cancer and other ailments

With their strong sense of smell, some dogs can detect early stages of cancer. They can use their powerful sniffer to smell lung and breast cancers in a person’s breath. This is true for any cancer that lives just below the skin as well, located throughout the body.


Experts believe that dogs can identify chemical traces in parts per trillion, allowing them to detect skin cancer when sniffing skin lesions, as well as prostate cancer when sniffing urine.


It is amazing how many ways dogs can help improve our lives. They are not just loyal companions, but they are also one of the most critical caretakers a person can have. Some would argue that they are more than man’s best friend; they are our saviors!

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