Live Longer With A Canine Companion

If you’re a dog lover like Ira Riklis and have a canine companion, then you know how wonderful they are. Dogs are there for you when you are sick or feeling down. They get excited every time you walk in the door, no matter if you’ve been gone for the entire day or just five minutes. It’s all the same to them. Dogs are not only our best friends but having them around can actually benefit your health and extend your life.

Cardiovascular Benefits

People who own a pet, particularly a dog, are at a reduced risk of having cardiovascular disease. A report by CNN stated that individuals who live alone and have a canine companion decrease their risk of death by 33 percent and a cardiovascular-related death by 36 percent. Their risk of a heart attack was reduced by 11 percent. Protection from cardiovascular problems is a result of regular interaction with a pet, such as going for walks and playing.

Social Interaction

People who own pets can more easily interact with others. A pet can be an instant icebreaker when it comes to a conversation because the one thing most people have in common is a love for animals. Dogs who have a friendly disposition attract strangers, and in turn, make their owners available for interaction. A person who would not normally come up to you and start talking might have a reason to do so if you have your pet with you because your pet provides a comfortable interaction that would otherwise not be possible. You can also interact with fellow animal lovers at dog parks, outdoor cafes that are pet-friendly and online communities dedicated to the discussion of pets. So, owning a pet can contribute to an active social life and may even help you make new friends.

Stress Reduction

Have you ever noticed that just being around your pet calms you down? According to, the very act of petting or playing with an animal reduces the stress hormone, cortisol and increases the hormone oxytocin which is responsible for reducing stress. This is one reason why animals are used to manage stress for individuals with disabilities. Watching a cat sleep can even lower your blood pressure allowing you to feel more relaxed. Because animals have such a dramatic impact on stress levels, they can help extend the life of a heart attack survivor by at least a year when they own a pet.

Elevate Mood

No one is more excited to see you than your pet, especially if that pet is a dog. Dogs have a way of learning your schedule and will anxiously await your return, often looking out the window or waiting by the door. And, every time you walk through the door, it is like they are seeing you for the first time. Even if you’ve had a bad day, coming home to such a wonderful greeting is guaranteed to lift your spirits and make you forget your troubles. Pets add so much meaning to our lives because they are always there when we need them. We want to take great care of them because what they give back to us is unconditional love.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 36.5 percent of U.S. households own dogs and 30.4 percent own cats. This data shows that dogs and cats are among the most popular pets for individuals and families. However, other animals provide life-extending health benefits. Which animal you choose depends on your preferences. Some people find comfort in owning birds, fish, horses and a variety of other animals. Each animal has its own personality that makes it special and finding that perfect companion will have immediate as well as long-lasting benefits for your health.