As I was cleaning up our new pet pooch’s poop this morning (still in training but doing well, fair play to him), he looked up at me with an “I’m so adorable and innocent look”.  I couldn’t be annoyed with him, even though I still had to walk him and do everything else I needed to do, to get out the door.  What is it about dogs, or our pets in general, that brings out the best in us?  Of course it is their unconditional love and loyalty (and cuteness), but I think that somewhere deep inside, we also know that it is better for us to have them in our lives.

Studies prove what we thought

It appears that the latest studies are in agreement!  According to Harvard Medical School, they are showing that there is a growing body of evidence to prove that owning dogs is actually beneficial to both our physical and mental health.

Physical Health Benefits

The obvious one is that dogs encourage us to be more active.  On days when it is raining and miserable out, we might put off that walk, but if your doggie pal needs to get out, we will put on the waterproofs and brave the elements.  That movement is vital for our muscles, bones and detoxing.

Mental Health Benefits

Dogs help us to be more mindful and present, make us calmer and so reduce stress.  The studies show that people who own dogs have lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels and so lower risk of heart disease.

Pets provide companionship and this is one of the ways in which the benefits stretch to our mental health too.  Dog owners are less likely to experience feelings of loneliness, anxiety or depression.  The simple act of petting your dog can reduce feelings of stress.   When taking care of our dog, if you are like me, you are talking to your pooch, fully expecting some reciprocal communication.  Focusing on them and their needs, makes us more present and so able to enjoy the moment more.  Being present is also great for our digestion and overall health!


Basically, owning a dog might be one of the most physically and emotionally beneficial relationships in our lives!  That being said, I have been heartbroken when dogs we have loved over the years have passed away (Calli, Bailey, Amber, Sky and Barney – well now I’m crying!)  However, it was worth it.  You can only feel grief because you have loved, and so of course it was worth it.  They give you back tenfold what you put into them and can teach us how to be enthusiastic about and enjoy the simplest things in life.

Other Resources

How to Care for Your Dog’s Basic Needs (

Get Healthy, Get a Dog: The health benefits of canine companionship – Harvard Health

Photo by Lyn

Lyn Sharkey Nutrition
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