Spending quality time with pets, specifically dogs, provides humans with companionship and can improve health. From a physiological standpoint, being with your dog can release feel-good hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin that elevate your mood. There are also other ways in which they can increase your health and  longevity.

Increased physical activity. Dogs are more likely than other house pets to beg for play or exercise, encouraging owners to take more frequent walks or exercise with their dogs. A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found dog owners were more likely to get mild to moderate physical activity during the week than non-dog owners, making them more likely to get the recommended 30-minute minimum of exercise per day.

Decreased allergy risk. Dogs may be a trigger for people with allergies, but they can reduce allergy risk for kids growing up with them. Pregnant women who live with a dog can reduce the likelihood of their child developing allergies. A 2004 study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found exposure to dogs in infancy, especially around the time of birth, can actually influence children’s immune development while reducing the probability of certain allergic diseases.


Photo credit: Sherrie Stille