How your dog may help make you healthier

How your dog may help make you healthier

Stressed? Pet your dog.

Feeling lonely and depressed? Talk to your dog.

Want to meet new people? Walk your dog.

The American Veterinary Medical Association found in 2016, 38% of American households owned a dog. Dog owners will likely be very happy to tell you all about their dog and the benefits of owning a dog. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists a host of health benefits pet owners can enjoy.

Whether it’s a lab, which topped the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular breeds of 2018, or a rescue mutt, there are research-backed ways that dogs are good for your health, your kids’ health and your neighborhood.

“There are therapy dogs for a reason,” says Rebecca Biskup, a massage therapist at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wis., and dog owner. “Dogs have been proven to help with physical issues like blood pressure and physical pain.”

Dogs can also help with emotional issues, too, Biskup says.

“Dogs do help on an emotional level, too, helping to balance emotions,” she says. “They definitely help lift your spirits and lower depression. How can anyone be sad with a ‘furbaby’ on their lap?”

Dogs can help:

One way to bond with your dog is massage, Biskup says.

“Just like acupuncture in humans, dogs have meridians that correspond to organs and health issues. Massage not only feels good but helps build that trust and love between you,” Biskup says. “Dogs have three stress points at the curve of their neck leading into their trunk, and massaging that area feels good.”

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Heather Collier

Heather Collier works in the public affairs and marketing department for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is based in Milwaukee.