Dogs are the new probiotics for humans

Did you know you have a greater life expectancy if you own a dog? Dogs might be the new probiotic for humans. The physical and mental health benefits of owning a dog greatly overcome the negatives.

According to NPR, owners who walk their dogs benefit by boosting the “cuddle hormone,” also known as oxytocin. Harvard Medical School defines oxytocin as “a hormone that’s produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. Its main function is to facilitate childbirth, which is one of the reasons it is called the ‘love drug’ or ‘love hormone.'”

Sissy Bartlett is a Canyon resident who has an English Shepherd, Kobe, and a Chocolate Lab, Mowgli. She inherited the two dogs when her two kids went off to college. She’s happy to come home to the dogs because they always rush to the door to greet her. She has more of an active lifestyle due to walking her dogs, and this activity adds structure and routine to her day.

“It’s just nice to walk in and they greet us,” Bartlett said. “Their tails are wagging and they jump up on you and they’re just always happy to see you. It’s just fun to walk in the door and there they are just ready to do whatever and hang out.”

According to the American Heart Association, dogs are helping humans live longer through lifestyle changes that people only get when they add a canine friend to their family. When the dog needs to go outside or if they want to play, you have to go and do all of these things for them. Each task associated with caring for a dog adds exercise into a dog owner’s life that they might not get otherwise.

“I would say we spend a lot more time outside just because you’re taking them outside and you’re wanting them to be outdoors and active outside,” Bartlett said.

The American Heart Association recommends exercising 150 minutes per week, so dog owners who walk their dogs for 20 to 30 minutes a day are more likely to fit in 150 minutes of walking per week than non-dog owners. Many of the added health benefits come from the extra activities that come with owning a dog, such as playing with them and getting fresh air when being outside with them.

“We’ve always been dog lovers, so we will always probably own dogs, definitely,” Bartlett said.

If you want to increase the duration of your life by reducing the chance of heart disease and increasing your overall happiness and well-being, consider welcoming a furry friend into your home.