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The health benefits of a dog


Halo – my exercise buddy

This gorgeous young pup joined us in December from a Greek rescue charity. I apologise to all my patients who have heard all about him, and have had regular updates. We adore him, and have benefited so much since he has joined our family.

Getting active with a dog

Apart from the obvious need to regularly exercise a dog, (most need at least half an hour walk a day) there are so many ways that owning a dog will get you up and out of your comfy sofa.

  • Getting down to play with your dog
    • Exercising a dog isn’t just about walking them. Most need to exercise their minds as well as their body. This can take the form of play through tug, playing fetch, or hide and seek. Each game requires you to move in different ways – throwing, pulling, bending and stretching. As you play you will use muscles that you would otherwise probably only stretch out in a formal exercise environment
  • Addressing the basic needs of your dog
    • Dogs never need to go out when you want them to. Or at least they seem to know when you are just nicely settled and then decide they need to go out to check out their garden. I find that Halo will often decide once an hour in the evening that he needs to patrol the garden to check out for any new smells, or intruders (of the animal kind), so I have to get up and move far more than I used to in the evening.
    • Picking up the poo, putting down his food – both require you to
      bend and stretch probably more frequently than you used to.
      Of course all dogs need walking and for me this has been the biggest benefit of all. I have upped my step count to an average of 14000 a day now (although those days Halo is in day care I really miss the longer walks)
    • The regular activity associated with owning a dog means that physical activity gets easier, and those joint aches and pains (although they may still exist) do seem to be less significant

Other health benefits of a pet

  • A greater immune system
    • Evidence suggests that those children who grow up around pets have a stronger immune system as they are exposed to more dirt.
    • Children are believed to develop fewer allergies if they grow up around furred animals and are less likely to develop asthma.
  • Improved heart health
    • Some research suggests that male dog owners are less likely to have heart disease.
    • It has been found that pet owners have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels than non pet owners.
    • Improved mental health Dogs provide exercise and companionship for us all, however this particularly benefits those who live alone or don’t work such
      as the elderly.
    • Walking a dog means you socialise more as you meet other dog owners
      Relaxing and pleasure nerve transmitters such as serotonin and dopamine increase when you enjoy activities such as walking and playing with your dog.
      Dogs helped to reduced stress levels through exercise and petting them.

Additional benefits of having a dog

For my family we have seen huge changes in our home as Halo is a rescue, and is a very anxious dog.

  • We have become calmer at home, with all of us conscious that an outburst of anger may upset him and sending him running to his crate to hide.
  • The children have learnt more responsibility and help to take care of Halo, feeding him, brushing his teeth, picking up after him and have learnt not to leave things around he may want to chew (a hard lesson to learn when it is their favourite toy !).
  • The children have a friend who isn’t going to argue with them or be mean to them, who they can talk to and spend time giving and receiving unconditional love.
  • We have learnt to use Halo as an excuse to get out to walk off stress and to put technology down. I can’t walk with my phone pinned to my ear when I am keeping an eye on him in case he runs off (sorry if I dont answer your call immediately – my message should now say I may be walking the dog and will get back to you later)
  • We have seen Halo grow from a terrified puppy who is gradually gaining in confidence and showing who he really is.

If you are considering getting a pet then please look into rescue centres, there are so many pets out there looking for forever homes, and they have so much to give. Just make sure you choose one that will fit with your lifestyle. #adoptdon’tshop

#Osteopathyworks to get you moving with your pet. If you have any concerns about your physical health or are struggling to exercise your dog due to aches and pains, then please get in touch