Dogs have been our companions for centuries. We look after them, provide them with food, toys and a comfortable bed. What do they give us in return?

You might be surprised at some of the  benefits of dog ownership

Dogs Keep Us Active

Not surprisingly people who own a dog tend to walk more. Regular walking is one of the most effective ways of becoming more active, losing weight and improving health and fitness. It is often our dogs that give us the encouragement to walk every day.

Studies have found that dog owners walk twice as far as non-dog owners over the period of a week.

Even just being out in the fresh air with your dog can increase your mood and self esteem.

Dogs Can Improve Your Social Life

Physical fitness is not the only way that dogs help us. Walks are much more of a social occasion when you have a dog with you. Dogs are a natural conversation starter so people are much more likely to stop and speak to someone with a dog than a person walking on their own. This makes it easier for dog owners to meet people and make new friends.

Dogs Can Reduce Stress

Every day life can sometimes be quite stressful and our dogs help us unwind and relax. Dogs provide companionship, they are always pleased to see us when we come home and they are always there to listen to our problems.

Not only does stroking your dog helps to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol it increases mood boosting hormones such as serotonin and dopamine which promote calm and relaxation.

Dog Owners Are Healthier

Apart from the benefits of more physical exercise dogs keep their owners healthy in other ways. People who own dogs tend to have fewer visits to their GP and have fewer minor health problems than non dog owners.

Dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure compared to non dog owners. Dog owners also show fewer cardiovascular problems and lower cholesterol than non dog owners.