Your dog loves you, but is loving them good for you?
Coming home to your canine wagging its tail can instantly make your day. Being a dog parent comes with some responsibilities, but the unconditional love your canine shows you can make you feel pretty great. Having a constant companion doesn’t hurt either, especially during the pandemic.
But did you know having a dog can have health benefits, too? The possible emotional benefits of a hanging around a hound are well-documented—it can help you relieve stress, lower anxiety and even reduce feelings of loneliness. Some studies have even shown that dog owners have lower blood pressure levels and reduced risk of death.
In fact, dogs are even brought to hospitals to visit patients to provide a much-needed dose of familiarity and joy. The team at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton even gets calls from physicians for a dog to stop by a patient’s room.
“These dogs really benefit the health and well-being of our patients, their families and our team members,” said Catherine Buehler, who oversees the volunteer program at Aurora Grafton who are certified in animal-assisted therapy. “Every day those dogs are walking down the hall, people feel calmer.”
In a hospital setting, seeing a dog can evoke a sense of calm and familiarity. Volunteers with certified pups check in with nurses on various floors to see who might enjoy saying hello to a furry companion. Petting and talking to a dog can provide an emotional boost for patients. And, for many patients who feel a loss of control, being able to show love to a dog during their stay helps them feel empowered and safe.
The pros of having a pup at home go beyond just emotional well-being. Having a dog can help you stay more active and keep you moving. Some physical therapists even use dogs to help people work on their mobility.
So give Rover or Fido an extra squeeze today—and make sure to take a long walk together. You’ll both feel healthier and happier.
About the Author
Ben Hoekstra is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked in marketing and PR for various Milwaukee nonprofits and received his master’s degree in Corporate Communications from Marquette University. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and all things Milwaukee.