Skip to main content

Get Healthy, Get a Dog: The health benefits of canine companionship

Harvard logo

There’s a reason dogs are human’s best friend

Let your dog and Harvard Medical School help you exercise more, manage your weight, and improve your health!

Dogs have always been known for their loyalty. Now it's time to acknowledge how important they can be for their owners' health. A growing body of solid research shows that owning a dog can:

  • provide companionship
  • help you be more active
  • make kids calmer, more secure, and more responsible
  • improve the lives of older individuals
  • help you be calmer, more mindful, and more present in your life
  • make you more social and less isolated
  • ease stress.

Ongoing research is showing that the health benefits of owning a dog are undeniable. Dog owners have lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of heart disease, than non-owners.

There are also many psychological benefits to having a pooch around. Dog owners are less prone to bouts of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Simply petting your dog can make you feel less stressed. One of the greatest benefits of owning a dog is that it encourages you to practice mindfulness — being in the present moment and fully appreciating life. Mindfulness can help you relieve stress and also improves your overall health.

Get Healthy, Get a Dog, a brand-new Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School and the Angell Animal Medical Center, delves into the many ways that dogs can improve the lives of humans. It also offers simple ways to keep your dog fit and healthy. You'll discover exercises to share with your pooch and simple ways to train him or her to be the perfect workout partner.

This report also covers the pet adoption process, canine nutrition, and ways to benefit from canine contact even if you're not a pet owner. With the guidance offered in this Special Health Report, owning a dog can be one of the most physically and emotionally rewarding relationships you’ll ever experience.