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7 Benefits of Having a Dog: Improved Health, Mood and More!

If you have the time, patience, and money to care for a dog, there are many wonderful benefits. Here are seven of our favorite examples.

Quick Takeaways

There are many benefits to having a dog. These include physical, mental, and social benefits, such as:

  1. Improved cardiovascular health
  2. Reduced anxiety and stress
  3. A more active lifestyle
  4. Lower risk of childhood allergies
  5. Reduced feelings of loneliness
  6. Reduced risk of depression
  7. Dogs can teach empathy

We’ve all heard the expression “a dog is a man’s (or woman’s) best friend.” But the benefits of a dog go far beyond companionship. In fact, adopting a dog can have a positive impact on your physical fitness, social life, and mental health.

“The families I work with all have one thing in common – they adore their dog,” says Rebecca Morello, IMDT dog trainer. “This love touches so many parts of their lives, and they often tell me they couldn’t imagine life without them!”

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of having a dog. We’ll also discuss some of the drawbacks, as it’s vital to have a realistic picture of dog ownership before adopting.

The Dog Comes First

At The Dog Clinic, we firmly believe that a dog’s well-being and health should always be a primary concern – not an afterthought. While there are many wonderful benefits to owning a dog, please make sure you are ready and able to commit the next 10+ years of your life to meeting your pet’s emotional, health, and financial needs.

7 Benefits of Adopting a Dog

1. Improved Cardiovascular Health

A dog is good for your heart

There appears to be a link between cardiovascular health and owning a dog. In fact, the American Heart Association has concluded that owning a pet – particularly a dog – is likely to be associated with improved heart health and lower blood pressure.

It’s not known why this is the case. Perhaps the extra walks maintain a healthier heart. Or it could be that the companionship of living with a dog reduces stress. Whatever the reason, your canine friend may protect you from future heart disease.

2. Reduced Stress & Anxiety

Having a dog can help reduce stress and anxiety

Research has shown that petting or playing with a dog for just a few minutes has a positive effect on anxiety and stress. This is because stroking a dog increases dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, which all play a crucial role in mood regulation.

Bringing your dog to work may even increase your productivity. A calmer and happier employee gets more work done, which is why many offices are hosting “bring your dog to work” days.

The good news is that your dog also gets a boost when you stroke them!

Of course, it’s important to remember that adopting a dog can cause stress too. “Many studies show the positive impact dogs can have on our stress levels,” says Morello. “But there are also challenges and difficulties – particularly if they are unwell or struggling with anxiety.”

“Three of the most common stresses I see affect my clients are financial, behavioral, and grief when the dog passes away,” adds Morello. “I don’t mention these sources of stress to put people off dog adoption, but it is essential to have realistic expectations.”

3. A More Active Lifestyle

Dog owners tend to have more active lifestyles

An obvious benefit of caring for a dog is more walks and time spent outdoors. The amount of exercise a dog needs varies depending on breed and other factors, but most dog parents get at least 30 minutes of extra exercise each day. As your dog needs this exercise, it’s also impossible to skip – unlike the gym!

Aside from helping your mental health, regular exercise may also help lower your cholesterol, decrease the risk of obesity, and prevent diabetes.

A dog can also improve your social life. You’ll meet new people on daily walks, which can start relationships or just get you talking to different people. An active social life is essential for well-being, so this is a major benefit of being a doggie parent.

4. Lower Risk of Childhood Allergies

Family pet

Surprisingly, living with a dog may reduce the chance of a child developing a pet allergy. This might sound counter-intuitive, but exposure to pet dander as a child grows up seems to help their immune system tolerate it.

There’s also some evidence that living with pets can boost a child’s immune system.

5. Prevent Feelings of Loneliness

Dogs are known to help with loneliness

Another benefit of owning a dog is that it can help with feelings of loneliness. A dog can’t replace a human relationship, but many people feel as close to their pets as their loved ones. A dog really does become part of the family!

It’s also wonderful to have a companion who never judges or criticizes. Your dog will love you regardless of your successes or failures – they just want to be with you.

Dog ownership can also open new social opportunities with other dog parents. People with dogs are often seen as more approachable, so spontaneous conversations on walks are more common.

6. Reduce the Risk of Depression

A dog on a mountain

Aside from reducing stress, living with a dog may also help prevent depression. This is a positive side-effect to many of the other benefits in this article, including lower stress, reduced anxiety, increased exercise, and better health.

Studies have also shown that taking responsibility for another human or animal can improve mental health. So, the act of caring for your dog could have a positive effect on depression.

7. Your Children (And Maybe You) Will Have More Empathy

Shaking hands with a dog

The unconditional love of a dog has been shown to increase the empathy of young children. In the study, researchers found that children who grew up with dogs had the highest scores for “pet attachment,” and also had more positive feelings towards animals.

This makes sense. If a child grows up with a canine companion, it’s natural for him or her to develop a deeper understanding of animals and their behavior. While this is possibly true for every type of pet, children develop stronger and longer-term bonds with dogs.

Even so, while dogs can make brilliant companions for children, it’s important to teach your kids how to interact politely with a pet. This is vital for both the child’s and dog’s safety. We’ve written an in-depth guide to keeping children safe around dogs if you’d like to learn more.

It’s also vital that dogs are not bought specifically for children. Even the most enthusiastic child is likely to lose interest in the day-to-day care of a dog, and children cannot be expected to be responsible for another living being. Only adopt a dog if you, as a parent, are prepared to provide the care.


There are many benefits to being a dog parent. Improved cardiovascular health, a better social life, and a lower risk of depression are just a few examples. And the main benefit is that you get a new best friend!

Adopting a dog isn’t always the right decision though. A dog is a long-term commitment who requires lots of attention, money, love, and time. You should only consider adopting if you can fully meet your pet’s needs for the rest of its life.

Don’t despair if you can’t commit to adopting a dog though. There are other ways to gain the benefits, such as dog-sitting, volunteering at a local dog shelter, or downloading pet walking apps. And, when you’re ready to adopt a dog, you’ll have much more experience caring for one.

These are just some of the benefits of having a dog. Have you experienced any others? Let us know in the comments section! You may also want to read our article about whether you’re ever too old to get a dog.


Richard Cross

Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.
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