Owning a dog can have many health benefits for adults and children

Pooch might not only make a great pet, man's best friend could improve heart health, depression, anxiety and keep a family active

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Dogs have long been known as 'man's best friend,' but the phrase may take on new meaning because a series of studies suggests six ways owning a dog can be good for people's health.

Dogs and a Common Childhood Illness

Children who grow up with dogs could be protected against RSV. In a study done on mice, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found house dust from homes with dogs may actually have a protective effect against respiratory syncytial virus or RSV.

Previous research linked dog ownership with a lower risk for asthma in children.

Dogs and Anxiety

Many people believe that animals can have a calming presence that soothes a person in a time of crisis. A study from the Medical College of Virginia supports this belief. Researchers found that animal therapy significantly reduces anxiety levels for hospitalized patients with mental health issues. Animals proved even more helpful than conventional recreational therapy sessions.

Dogs and Heart Health

A study in the American Journal of Cardiology of heart attack patients found dog owners are six times more likely to survive another year than patients who didn't have dogs.
Research also shows a pets are linked to reduced blood pressure in children and adults.

Dogs and Depression

According to research in Australia, dogs could have a benefit to people living in nursing homes. The study looked at elderly people living in nursing homes with visiting and resident dogs. The resident dog group showed a decrease in depression and significant increases in vigor were found in nursing homes with visiting dogs and resident dogs.

Dogs Can Keep a Family Active

Some might see walking the dog as a chore, but this responsibility may be as beneficial to a family's health as well as the dog's health. A study from the American Journal of Public Health found dog ownership is associated with higher physical activity in adults and possibly children. The study found children from dog-owning families spent more time doing light or moderate physical activity than children in families without dogs.

Dogs keep you away from the doctor's office

An Australian study suggests people who own pets typically visit the doctor less often and even use less medication. In addition, the Austrailian Companion Animal Council said pet owners can have lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

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