5 Ways Owning a Dog Improves Your Health


Posted on May 13, 2014 by Taylor Rhea

A recent article references a study that found that owning a pet – specifically a dog – could greatly improve one’s health.

Here’s how.

  1. It can improve cardiovascular health by keeping people active.
  2. It can reduce stress responses in the body.
  3. It can lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight.
  4. It helps take the focus off our own issues and gives us purpose in caring for another.
  5. Petting a dog releases oxytocin, the affection-inducing hormone. Simply put, dogs make us feel better!

A good example is Tizzie S., a resident at Atria Harborhill.

Tizzie was visiting her daughter, Jane, and Jane’s boyfriend when she found she had a special connection with their golden retriever/chow mix, Precious. Around the same time, Tizzie suffered a fall, and the recovery was a very long process. To help lift her mom’s spirits, Jane let her mom have Precious.

“Precious and I just had chemistry,” she explained, “and when I was in bed for so long, they gave me the dog to keep me company. I can’t imagine giving this dog away, but they gave her to me!”

Tizzie has always been a dog lover, owning many throughout her life. Her first dog was a white standard poodle named Shabby. When she got married, her late husband gave her a black miniature poodle.

“I had a very, very caring husband who knew how much I loved dogs,” said Tizzie. “At one point, we owned five. It was hectic at times, but my husband was a good sport.”

Precious has enriched Tizzie’s life and played a key role in her healing process, both physically and emotionally.

“I have to tell you,” said Tizzie, “getting Precious really has been a plan of God… I was always brought up with a dog and my husband died two years ago – I couldn’t have made it without Precious. She has given me so much comfort. And Atria allowing me to have the dog – this is a plan of God’s, and I have to believe it.

“I can’t say enough about Atria,” she added. “I think it is the Ritz. I get every bit of what I pay for here. I love the staff, the residents. The food is delicious. I just love it.”

Tizzie isn’t the only one who likes living at Atria.

“Precious loves interacting with the residents and staff, and they love her. When she sees our Medication Assistant, Edel, she goes crazy! She’ll roll over on her back and wait there to have her tummy rubbed. She’s a very, very sweet dog.

“Somebody said this to me the other day and it’s really true. She said, ‘I feel nearest to God when I’m with my dog, because God is never judgmental. He takes you for what you are. He doesn’t criticize you. You can say whatever you want to God and He’s right there – just like your dog.’ And isn’t that the truth?”


Jacobs, Theresa L. ”As We Age: Balance and Falls.” Newton-Wellesley Hospital. N.p. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://www.nwh.org/home/newsletter/2012/balance/>.

Imus, Deirdre. ”How owning a dog can improve your health.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/04/17/how-owning-dog-can-improve-your-health/>.

Category: News In Aging, We ♥ Pets
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