Dogs offer more than just companionship. If you’ve got a furry friend already, you likely have quite a few reasons to thank your dog. If you’re considering getting a pooch, check out these surprising benefits of having a dog.

1. You’ll exercise more.

Owning a dog can motivate you to exercise every day. On those days when it might be easy to skip a workout, looking at your dog standing by the door waiting to go for a walk can give you the push you need to get out there. Taking your dog for a 30 minute walk every day can greatly improve your health.

2. You’ll feel less stressed.

There have been lots of studies that have shown how dogs decrease stress levels. Petting your dog, playing with your dog, and simply watching your dog can reduce your stress each day. Research shows that dog ownership reduces stress hormones and the effects usually outweigh the stress caused by caring for a dog.

3. Your social life may improve.

Not only does walking your dog help you to get exercise, it might also help you get a date. People are more likely to stop and talk with you when you’re walking a dog. Going to the dog park or taking your dogs to run errands can also lead to strangers striking up conversations with you about your dog.

4. You may detect cancer sooner.

A dog’s amazing sense of smell can be used for a variety of purposes, including cancer detection. Many dog owners have reported their dog sniffing, licking, or nudging spots that later turned out to be cancerous. One of the unexpected benefits of having a dog is that it may even save your life by helping you to detect cancer.

5. Your kids will be less likely to have allergies.

Children who are raised around a dog are less likely to have allergies. In fact, living in a home with a dog can help kids grow up to have an increased immunity to pet allergies later in life.

6. Your heart will be healthier.

Studies have shown that petting a dog lowers a person’s heart rate. Therefore, dog owners are more likely to have a healthy heart. In fact, some research has shown that dog owners are much more likely to survive a heart attack compared to non-dog owners. Male pet owners in particular tend to experience a reduced rate of heart disease.

7. You’re less likely to feel depressed.

The benefits of dog ownership extend to your mental health as well. Dog owners are less likely to be depressed. Dog owners who have been diagnosed with clinical depression aren’t likely to be as depressed as other people. Caring for a dog helps relieve symptoms of depression and encourages people to be more positive.

8. You can grow old gracefully.

Dog ownership benefits elderly people in many ways. Alzheimer’s patients have fewer outbursts when there is a dog in the home. Caregivers of elderly patients report less stress. Dogs offer wonderful companionship for the elderly as well.

9. Your risk for general illness decreases.

Dog owners experience fewer health problems. Dog owners tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels compared to non-dog owners. Dogs expose their owners to a lot of germs, which can help build up a human’s immunity to disease. As a result, dog owners get sick less often and less severely than non-dog owners.

10.  You’ll feel safer.

Dogs can be an effective home security system. Studies show that barking dogs deter burglars. Just knowing that you’ve got a dog who can use its keen sense of hearing to detect anyone prowling around can help increase your sense of security, which is good for both your mental and physical health.

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Featured photo credit: Happy little girl playing with dog via Shutterstock

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