Having a dog brings you untold happiness and provides entertainment. But did you know that owning a dog can also have potential health benefits, both mentally and physically, for you and your family? There is scientific evidence that owning a pup is good for your health. Here are some reasons why.

1. Opportunity to Exercise
Dogs need to be exercised. They can’t be cooped up all day without a chance to get up and run around. Having a dog encourages owners to take him for walks, play fetch, be outdoors with him and let him sniff and explore.

2. Lifts Your Spirit
Having a good companion can help improve mood and prevent depression in men and women. Only 15-20 minutes with a beloved pet is said to create a more relaxed and calmer environment. Spending time with your furry friend can also raise the chemical levels in your brain associated with pleasure and tranquility.

3. Helps Handle Stress
Studies have shown that people who have a dog experience less cardiovascular reactivity during times of stress. During stressful situations, dog owners’ heart rates and blood pressure tend to rise less, and they return to normal levels faster than those who do not own dogs.

4. Helps Extend Your Life
Dogs can do more than get you to exercise and boost your mood. They could extend your life and protect you from deadly diseases. Owning pets is associated with reduced risk of heart disease–dog owners have been found to have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and experience fewer heart attacks than those who do not have pets. Some dogs can sniff out and detect skin, bladder, breast, colon, lung, and ovarian cancer. Specially trained dogs have been reported to sniff out skin moles and even bite them off.

5. Helps Your Children’s Well-Being
Not only are dogs good for their owner’s well-being, but also a family who owns a dog can have healthier children. Kids who grow up with dogs in their homes tend to have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema. These same kids also tend to have fewer sick days than those who don’t have dogs.

So, the next time your pooch digs in your flower beds or causes you to have a hefty veterinary bill, remember all the health benefits he/she is bringing to your family. The unconditional love is just a bonus!