Health benefits of owning a dog

  • 15 March 2018

Whilst there are the obvious benefits of owning a dog such as companionship and security, an increasing amount of research suggests that owning a dog actually has a wide range of physical and psychological benefits.

We took a look at all of the latest research and found that the benefits really are stacking up. From fitness to immunity, the advantages of dog ownership have been deeply researched by various studies throughout the world. We've packed it all up into a neat little list for you below.

1. Owning a dog can make us live longer (and healthier!)

A recent study of 3.4 million people in Sweden, showed that owning a dog was associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The most interesting research was related to those aged between 40 and 80 who lived with a dog but not with other people - these results showed a decrease in the chance of death by 33% and chance of death by cardiovascular disease was 36% lower. Furthermore, their risk of heart attack was decreased by 11%. For couples, there was a significant correlation between owning a dog and lower blood pressure. Dog owners don't have cause to go to the doctor as much either!

2. Owning a dog makes us fitter

study of more than 2,000 people on the benefits of dog walking found that people who regularly walked their dogs were less likely to be obese than those who didn’t own or walk a dog. In the elderly participants, this also meant they were more mobile at home

Collectively, Australians save approximately $3.86 billion annually on our own health expenditure by owning a dog.*

3. Owning a dog helps us stress less

There has been a great deal of research into whether dog ownership assists in the management of stress. One such study found that dog ownership positively affects endocrine responses as indicated by changes in the levels of cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine. Put simply, our reaction to stress is processed differently and results in a reduction of stress related feelings.

4. Owning a dog increases stimulation of socialising

It turns out that pets actually increase our approachability and make us appear to be trustworthy. Walking a dog makes us especially open to new relationships and friendships and is a great way to meet new people.

5. Owning a pet reduces allergies & boosts immunity

Whilst it may seem counterintuitive that owning a dog actually reduces the chance of developing allergies, studies show that having a dog during early childhood actually decreases the risk of developing allergies and asthma. Furthermore, living with a pet boosts immune systems in children by exposing them to bacteria that they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to. Cool hey? 

There are also some studies being conducted on the health benefits of dogs with Alzheimer's sufferers and children with Autism. Furthermore, due to the many various health benefits of pet ownership the RSPCA maintains that a recent study on pet ownership in Australia indicated that we save approximately $3.86 billion annually on our own health expenditure. It appears the benefits keep mounting in favour of the dog!

If you're considering getting a dog, make sure you do your research on what breed would be best for your lifestyle. VÖOST supports an 'Adopt, Don't Shop' policy. The RSPCA Australia or RSPCA United Kingdom are great places to start.

* RSPCA Website