by Geri Walton ~ November 9th, 2008
If you’ve ever thought about getting a pet, numerous studies have shown you could be healthier if you own a dog. According to one 2008 UK study, older adults benefit physically when interacting with dogs, and a study by Hayley Cutt from the School of Population Health at the University of Western Australia found dog owners are seven times more likely to exercise because their more willing to take their dogs for a walk. In fact, people with dogs exercised fifty-five minutes longer than those without dogs.
Many other studies have also shown the health benefits of dogs. For instance, Dr. Deborah Wells, whose study was published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, (2007), 12, 145-156, concluded, “dogs can have prophylactic and therapeutic value for people.” Wells conclusion was supported by many other studies that show dogs help prevent illness and significantly reduce coronary heart disease risks. She also found dogs don’t just prevent health problems, they also facilitate and speed recovery from illness.
Wells also noted that “over the years, research has shown that animals, and in particular dogs, can ameliorate the effects of potentially stressful life-events (e.g. bereavement, divorce), reduce levels of anxiety, loneliness and depression.” Moreover, they indirectly eliminate loneliness because when people are walking their dog, they’re more likely to have conversations with people. Dogs owners were also noted to respond more positively to psychological and depression therapy when their dogs were present.
Beside improving physical and psychological health, dogs offer companionship. The American Kennel Association (AKA) claims dogs are often considered beloved family members and can greatly enrich a person’s life. A dog can also bring a wealth of new friends and new activities when a person gets involved in social organizations, takes walks, or attends obedience training. Yet, maybe one of the best reasons to get a dog is because when your dog wags its tail, you automatically get a smile on your face.