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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Four Reasons Why Having a Dog is Good for Your Health

by April Daniels Hussar
Happy National Dog Week! Whether you've already got a furry BFF or are thinking about making the leap to pet owner, we've got some great reasons why bringing a pup into your life is a healthy move to make.

"There are so many reasons to bring a dog into your life, and the joy that comes along with that decision is a big part of it," Wayne Pacelle, President and Chief Executive Officer, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and author of The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them, tells HealthySELF. "Our connection with dogs and other animals is part of our emotional make-up as a species."

Here are four of those reasons...

1) They make you feel good.
"There's actually a biochemical basis for our connection with animals," explains Pacelle. "We have social bonding hormones, such as oxytocin, that are activated when we interact with dogs."

2) They make you healthier.
"Pet caretakers have lower rates of hypertension and high blood pressure," says Pacelle. "They sleep better, exercise more and interact socially more often."

3) Pets help your stress levels.
According to the HSUS, investigators at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that patients with hypertension who owned pets had lower blood pressure levels when put in stressful situations.

4) Plain-old L-O-V-E.
The CDC lists "loneliness" as one of the things having a pet can help cure, and it's no wonder. "Dogs become our companions and our protectors, and they are loyal and provide us with unconditional love," says Pacelle. "It doesn't hurt that they entertain us and make us laugh out loud, while occasionally exasperating us, too!"

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