Pets are good for your health. A 12 year study looking at nearly 3.5 million people showed that owning a dog was related to a lower risk for heart disease, stroke and heart attack.
Why do pets ( dogs particularly from this study) help our brain health?
Exercise- Having to walk your dog encourages regular physical activity. This is important for blood flow to our brains, reducing blood pressure and helping with stress and sleep. A study of more than 2000 adults showed that people who walked their dogs regularly were more likely to be more physical activity and less likely to be obese.
Helping with stress- who can resist those puppy eyes? Petting a dog can lower blood pressure and increase level of feel good brain chemicals (neuro- transmitters) dopamine and serotonin. This helps with feelings of calm and helps us feel happy and relaxed.
Having company- social relationships and networks are a key part of helping your brain and are one of our Noggin building blocks to better brain health. Having a dog has been shown to help with depression - the feeling of connection with your pet is key, as well as an increased social interaction that happens when you are out walking your dog or taking them to the park
Gut health- having a dog also means you are more likely to be spending time outside as well as cleaning up after then and washing their fur. This can increase our exposure to different types of bacteria and other bugs that are helpful for supporting our immune system. It’s great for kids too - even as a baby exposure to a pet can help with our natural gut bacteria which is important for overall health.
Dr Clara Russell