August is National Dog Month! This year, after millions of Americans brought home a dog during the pandemic, more people than ever are celebrating their furry members of the family.

Even before the spike in dog adoptions due to Covid, more and more Americans have become pet owners. In 2021, about 70% of American households had pets, a 25% jump since 1988.

This trend is partly because Americans are having children later and getting pets in the meantime.

With so many pups in households across the country, plenty of people would be happy to tell you how fun it is to have a dog around.

But did you know there are physical and mental health benefits of owning a dog, too? Having a canine companion can reduce blood pressure, help you be more social, and reduce anxiety and depression. And the benefits don’t stop with you — owning a dog helps your whole family stay healthy and active.

Getting a dog might be a great decision for you and your health — not to mention the pup you bring home. Discover why.

1. Having a Dog Keeps You Physically Healthy

Study after study shows the positive link between owning a dog and improved physical health.

Having a dog is linked with a 24% reduction in early death from any cause. It’s not necessarily the dog that can save your life (though many pet owners might disagree). Instead, it’s the healthy habits required to keep a dog content that benefit your physical health.

Dogs require daily walks, which can keep your heart, blood pressure, and cholesterol healthy. And while your dog is getting a tour of the neighborhood, you’re strengthening your muscles and bones, especially in your legs.

Dog owners are more likely to exercise for two and a half hours per week, the standard recommendation for physical activity. And because dogs benefit from routine, you may find yourself building a routine that helps you, too.

Routines can reduce stress and improve sleep. And if you’re able to build healthy habits into your routines, even better.

2. Dogs Decrease Isolation and Depression

Although working from home is convenient, offers flexibility, and cuts down on commute time, there’s one significant downside: loneliness.

People in the U.S. were already feeling more isolated in recent years. With more people working from home, the trend has gotten worse. But dogs can help.

One of the best mental health benefits of owning a pet is companionship. Dogs provide companionship that reduces feelings of loneliness. The bond between a human and their dog creates something special called “social recognition.”

The feeling of social recognition means you identify your pet as being important to you and belonging to you, similar to the bond between a parent and a child. That bond can reduce feelings of isolation and depression and boost feelings of wellness.

Cuddling and interacting with your dog can boost oxytocin, the hormone associated with love and social bonding. And the unconditional love dogs provide gives you a sense of purpose.

Plus, dogs can provide ways to connect with other humans, too. Many people meet friends and neighbors through their dogs and at the dog park. When people see you with a dog, they are more likely to feel a sense of trust towards you.

3. Dogs for Anxiety

Before the pandemic, anxiety rates in the US were rising. Now they’re even higher.

Having a dog is one way to cope with anxiety.

Dogs are known to make people more resilient to stress. Dogs live in the moment — they’re not worried about to-do lists or an interaction they had yesterday. When you’re with them, you might find yourself more present.

Interacting with animals has been proven to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as blood pressure. And dogs engage in something magical for humans of all ages: play.

You might think only children need to be playful, but playfulness is essential in adults too. Being playful is known to reduce anxiety. Having a dog who loves tug-of-war, fetch, or playing a game of chase can spark your own playful side and instantly put you in a better mood.

4. Dogs Keep the Whole Family Healthy

With the right temperament and training, many dogs are a loving addition to the family. Owning a dog can also be a fun way to teach your children responsibility.

Dogs bond to children in meaningful ways, providing companionship and unconditional love that’s different from the relationships they have with friends and other family members. Pets can even help children develop emotional and social skills.

And there’s an added benefit to having a furry friend in the house: it could reduce your child’s risk of breathing issues.

Some studies have shown that children exposed to dog allergens during the first year of their life have a reduced risk of asthma and allergies. All that pet hair under your couch could actually be doing some good!

5. Therapy Dogs Help People with Special Needs

There’s been a surge in therapy dogs in recent years, and for good reason.  

For generations, service animals and emotional support dogs have been helping people with special needs. Therapy dogs can help people of any age cope with mental health disorders like depression and psychological trauma. When therapy dogs are brought into hospitals, they reduce patients’ stress and anxiety.

Highly trained service dogs can also help people with various special needs, including autism, diabetes, hearing impairments, seeing impairments, mobility impairment, epilepsy, and more.

If you get a trained service dog, you’ll be bringing home a companion who improves your quality of life.

Improve Your Health with a Dog — and Telemedicine

If you’re considering getting a dog, there might be even more benefits than you’d previously considered. Besides being adorable and entertaining, the companionship of dogs — and the physical activity they require — can translate into healthy changes for your mental and physical health.

Your dog can be one of the many ways you keep your health balanced — but be sure to have a team of doctors you can call, too.

myCallADoc offers telemedicine services to people all across the U.S., whether or not you have insurance. If you’ve gotten used to spending time at home with your dog while you work, going to the doctor doesn’t have to be any different.

Our board-certified physicians are available 24/7, right from your home. (And as much as we love your pets, our medical care is just for you!)

Learn more about how telemedicine works and see if it’s right for you >


This article is not intended as medical advice. Always check with your doctor before embarking on a health and wellness plan.

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