Want to enhance your health and happiness? Just add a dog (or two!)

This post by Dr. Marc DuPéré and Catherine Cameron

IMG_7453As animal lovers, and with dogs as members of our families, it made sense for my friend Dr. Marc DuPéré and I to collaborate on this feature. Just as so many other dog owners have discovered, ours make us healthier and happier!

Today we’re sharing eight reasons to open your heart and home to a furry friend of your own.

  1. It’s not just Fido who will benefit from the walks – you will too!
    A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found dog owners are 34 percent more likely to be more active. In fact, dog owners get almost twice as much mild-to-moderate intensity exercise as those without dogs. Canadian adults need at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping exercise every week for health benefits… brisk walking, jogging, and playing with a dog makes this a breeze.
  2. A dog will get the kids moving. Teens with dogs average an additional 32 minutes of physical activity a day. Given only 5% of Canadians children and teens are active enough for health benefits, we need to do all we can to help them engage in active play and other forms of exercise.
  3. Unconditional love. A recent study from the University of Guelph found having a pet around had a positive effect on the physical health of those ages 65 and older. How could it not? The physical activity, great companionship, and the unconditional love a dog so willingly offers, is therapeutic for us all!
 Dr. DuPéré’s two Italian Greyhounds keep him company as he does is gardening and my Golden Retriever, Daisy, is great company on my outdoor workouts.
  4. Outdoor activity in every season. Those with dogs don’t hibernate – we simply can’t! As a result, we’re more likely to engage in and enjoy outdoor recreational activities in every season and to reap both the physical and mental health benefits of exercise in nature. Exercise in nature is medicine!
  5. Pets turn us into social magnets. Have you ever noticed the crowd that forms around someone with a puppy? Trust us – you’ll get to know and make friends with people of all ages and abilities in your community when you have a dog.
  6. Healthier kids. Research from the journal, Pediatrics, suggests kids who live in a home with a pet during their first year, are more likely to be healthier than kids in pet-free households. It seems exposure to pets early in life (preferably in the first six months) can stimulate the immune system to do a better job of fighting off infection. Babies with dogs at home typically have fewer colds and ear infections during their first year than babies living in pet-free homes. They may also be less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma.
  7. Drug-free stress management. A long walk or a soothing cuddle with a dog is the perfect antidote to stress. Both help lower blood pressure and reduce the release of the stress hormone, cortisol.
  8. A more meaningful life! People with dogs are typically happier and less lonely than those without. Dogs have a way of bringing more laughter and love into any home. How about yours?

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