Did you know owning a dog can do wonders for your health? As Dr. Chutkan mentions in her book, The Microbiome Solution, dog ownership and improved microbial health is well-documented. A study conducted in babies showed that infants who live in dog-owning households have more diversified gut bacteria and are less likely to develop allergies. In addition, school-aged children who have a dog possess stronger immune systems and are less likely to suffer from ear infections, asthma, allergies, and respiratory infections.
The health benefits of owning a dog don’t stop in the gut. Two studies recently published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes, showed that owning a dog improved recovery outcomes after a major cardiovascular event and lowered the risk of mortality in the long-term. This isn’t the first study of its kind. There’s a hefty amount of literature supporting the benefits of dog ownership on cardiovascular health. But how? Scientists believe there are many mechanisms at work here. Owning a dog:
1) Increases the likelihood of exercise, time spent outdoors, and social interaction (all characteristics associated with improved health)
2) Reduces stress and lowers stress-related high blood pressure
3) Improves mental health
From the gut to the heart to the mind, owning a dog results in better health outcomes. In fact, those who are over the age of 65 and who own a dog are 30% less likely to seek medical attention than those who don’t. Are you looking for a health-filled Christmas gift for a loved one this year? Maybe a dog is in order. Just be sure the receiving party is on board!