How dogs can improve your physical and mental health

Dogs provide unconditional love and companionship. Did you know that they also improve your overall health? Something as simple as petting your dog helps to decrease stress and anxiety.

Whether you have a small lap dog or a big, energetic dog, there are a number of ways your health will benefit from having a canine companion. In this article, we will discuss how having a dog can improve your physical and mental health.

Dogs are great exercise partners

It’s been scientifically proven that people who own dogs are more active. Dog owners on average walk or run more often than those without a dog. Whether you have a small dog that you take on daily walks or a bigger dog who is your running partner, dogs have the ability to get you off the couch and moving.

Labradors are a very popular breed of dog to go running with. Not only are they built to run, they also have a great temperament for running so you won’t have to worry about them darting after every human and animal you encounter on your run.

Dogs help reduce stress levels

If you’ve ever come home from a stressful day and felt the relaxing effects of seeing your dog’s smiling face and wagging tail then you’re well aware of this fact. It’s been proven that petting your dog releases the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin.

Dogs can also help people who are terminally ill, suffer from PTSD or have high blood pressure. It’s hard to stay stressed out when snuggling up with your furry friend.

Dogs have the ability to detect terminal illnesses

It has been proven that dogs have the ability to detect certain forms of cancer. While not fully understood, there are many documented cases of someone’s pet dog knowing something was wrong before their owner even goes to a doctor.

Some scientists believe that this ability can be trained to a high degree of accuracy and that certain breeds can be used to screen patients.

Dogs help to make you more social

Humans are social creatures and because of this we need to interact with other people in order to feel whole. Not only will your dog be a good motivator to get you out of the house, they are also a great conversation starter.

If you have trouble approaching strangers your pup will have no problem throwing you into a social interaction. This is especially true if you take your dog to a dog park. They will inevitably create a situation (hopefully a good one) where you have to interact with other people at the park. Many couples started out as strangers at the dog park until one day when their dogs crossed paths.

Dogs help to boost your immune system

Children who grow up in a home with a dog are less likely to develop allergies later in their life. While the mechanism that causes this to happen is not fully understood, it’s believed that early exposure to dog fur and the dust and grass they track around helps build immunity to allergens.

Dogs are natural comedians

Nothing puts you in a better mood than laughter. Dogs are endless supplies of silly behavior, quirky interests and comical antics. Usually offering them a treat will bring out the comedian in your dog as they attempt to persuade you to give them a snack by going through their routine of tricks.

You can also teach your dog a variety of tricks that are sure to get a laugh. It’s hard to keep a straight face when your dog is rolling over, playing dead or sitting pretty. Dog costumes also provide an endless supply of laughs and great photo opportunities.

Many breeds of dog make great service animals

Canines have a natural empathy towards humans, which makes them perfect animals for physical and mental assistance. Not only can they be trained to assist you in a variety of tasks, they also provide emotional support.

Labrador retrievers, german shepherds and poodles are examples of popular service dogs. Even if your dog is not formally trained to be a service dog, they can still provide you with mental and physical support.


While there are a wide variety of ways that dogs can improve your physical and mental health, there’s nothing more special than your personal bond with your four-legged friend. The joy they greet you with when you come home can easily flip your mood around.

Their enthusiasm to get outside and go for a walk or go to the park will help motivate you to get in better shape. Being that special person in their life improves yours and completely changes theirs.

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