Guest Post by Jessica Brody.

There is something so special about coming home to the unconditional love of a four-legged friend. The excited barks, intrusive hugs and cuddles, slobbery kisses and continual acceptance permits more than just a good feeling. In fact, developing a relationship with man’s’ best friend can be one of the best things you do for your health and mental well-being. Below are five healthful reasons you should own a dog.

photo credit: agnesliinnea

5 Healthful Reasons You Should Own a Dog

  • Stress relief: The seemingly simple acts of cuddling, petting and gazing into your pooch’s eyes can trigger the release of oxytocin (aka the love hormone) in the brain, helping you feel less anxious and stressed. The companionship, trust, and love of just being around a dog has therapeutic abilities and can be especially helpful to those suffering from PTSD and autism.
  • Social interaction: According to a study published at NCBI, social interaction can make you feel better inside and out, dogs can certainly be a social icebreaker. Taking your canine out for walks, hikes and strolls around the dog park can help start conversations with other dog-lovers. You can also meet new people when you take your dog to the pet stores, pet/owner related classes and other such pet-events.
  • Physical health improvements: Jogging, walking and playing with your fur-baby regularly can drastically improve your physical health. Exercising with your pal can improve the integrity of your joints and muscles as well as help you detox harsh toxins and burn calories. And according to the American Heart Association, dogs can also help lower blood pressure levels as well as triglycerides and cholesterol levels, which can make the heart healthier while decreasing the risk of stroke and heart disease
  • More meaning to your life: Caring for a dog can drastically improve the quality of your life. Because you now have a furry friend that needs, wants and values you, you will start to feel more important and want to do more productive things with your time.
  • Combatting Depression: Dogs have the almost-magical ability to ward off symptoms of depression. A study posted on the Animal Society Institute states that people with dogs laugh more than people without. Additionally, interacting with your pooch can be the perfect distraction to your emotional woes. Doing so can help release good-mood endorphins, reducing tension and positively alter your mood.

Finding a Dog that is Right for You:

There is no one size fits all when it comes to dog-ownership, therefore, it is important to step back and look at your lifestyle to make the right choice between breed, activity level, age, and size of the dog. Consider factors such as your current finances, the size of your house or apartment, the other members of your household and your available time. If you have a busier schedule you can always hire a dog walker or a pet sitter to take care of your dog when you are away.

Additionally, when you narrow down your preferred dog-breed choice, you should start looking in places such as shelters and rescue organizations to find your new pet-friend as rescuing a dog will help save a life and cut down on puppy-mills.

So, as you have learned, owning a dog can truly add meaning and longevity to your life, the unwavering love you will receive from your dog-friend is something that can inspire hope, compassion, and self-confidence. However, that love must be returned. It is important to show your dog that you value them also. Therefore, you should treat your dog well by feeding him/her with high-quality food, grooming regularly, playing with them often, and by sporadically spoiling him/her with treats, toys, and love.