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Happy National Dog Day! 5 Ways Our Canine Companions Keep Us Healthy

Happy National Dog Day! 5 Ways Our Canine Companions Keep Us Healthy

Today is National Dog Day and whether you have a scrappy Chihuahua or a slobbering Great Dane, your four-legged companion is sure to provide plenty of health benefits (and love, of course!) Here are just five of the top ways our furry friends keep us healthy:

1. They keep us active.

Dogs need exercise and for many of us, that means daily walks. This is true for any age, but especially for seniors! A study published in the journal Gerontologist found that seniors who walked dogs had "lower BMIs, fewer activities of daily living limitations, fewer doctor visits, and more moderate and vigorous exercise."

2. They improve heart health.

Multiple studies have shown that having a dog is linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels. All of these benefits contribute to better cardiovascular health (and fewer heart attacks).

3. They reduce stress.

Just a few minutes of cuddle time with your pooch can lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety, and increase the "calm" neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine. 

4. They can lower a child's chance of pet allergies.

A 2004 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that dogs (and cats) in the home can lower a child's chance of becoming allergic to pets by up to 33%! They may also help kids develop a stronger immune system.

5. They can soothe those with illness, injury, and diseases.

From traumatic brain injury and autism to depression and Alzheimer's (among others), dogs can help reduce feelings of fear, sadness, aggression, and worry.