By Erin Guidarelli and Aaron Weidman

This Friday is National Dog Day and at Work Right NW, we love our pups. As healthcare professionals, we also love our wellness! It only makes sense that during National Wellness Month and on National Dog Day we show just a few of the benefits of canine interaction and ownership. There are few better ways to Debrief and Recuperate than by arriving home to a wagging tail and some unconditional love.

Mental and Emotional Health Benefits

Maybe you can assume some immediate physical benefits of dog ownership, so we’ll start with some harder-to-see benefits. Check out these mental and emotional benefits. How many of you dog owners already see these put into practice?

• Petting – 10 minutes of petting decreases stress and increases oxytocin (the cuddle hormone). Get those pets and scratches in as much as possible!

Conversations – Doggos prefer dog-speak! “Who’s a good boy?” Not only do our four-legged friends prefer this kind of conversation, they’re excellent listeners too. There’s no topic off limits. Talking to your dog is good for them, but chatting with them creates a special bond of companionship between you and has also been known to combat feelings of human loneliness. 

• Dopamine – This chemical is a neurotransmitter made in your brain. It plays a role as a “reward center” and in many body functions, including memory, movement, motivation, mood, attention and more. It can be activated to your benefit by playing (fetch, frisbee, etc.) or even by a simple walk.

Depression Prevention – Did you know caring for a pet provides a sense of purpose for the owner? Dogs have a way of providing owners with stronger social support.

• Service and Emotional Support – You may know of those that utilize an emotional support dog, but have you heard of psychiatric service dogs? These special canines can help with the delivery of certain healthcare services (like dental or physical therapy appointments) and also ease conditions such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and PTSD. 

Physical Health Benefits

It’s no surprise that owning a doggo makes the owner more likely to lead an active lifestyle. Walks, playtime, and social interactions become more routine when one of these playful canines is around! Here are a few physical benefits that come with dog ownership.

• Weight Management – With great dog responsibilities, comes great reward! Is that the way the saying goes? People who own dogs are more committed to daily physical exercise since they see it as a responsibility of owning the dog. Just having a doggo around can help you lose weight because of the increased or regular activity your doggo needs. 

• Bone Density – And because you’re outside walking or playing with your dog, here’s a side effect: you take in more Vitamin D in your exposure to the sunlight! Without Vitamin D, you’re more at risk for certain heart diseases and bone conditions.

• Improved Cardiovascular Health – Studies suggest dog owners reduce blood pressure and have improved responses to stress. This can also include lower heart rate, slower breathing, and relaxing muscle tension. With improved cardiovascular health, comes lower mortality risk and heart disease prevention

• Less Sick Days – Did you know dog owners make about 15% less doctor visits over non-dog owners? That’s one way we can continue to put a dent in healthcare!

For those of you with allergies there are some hypoallergenic breeds that will work well for you.  NO EXCUSES!!!

Meet Mia and Izzy (Erin Guidarelli) and Zoey (Aaron Weidman)

Mia is a 3.5 year old English Bulldog. She loves trail running with her parents, playing in the snow, her Kong frisbee, any soccer or basketball that she can dribble around the yard and playing tug of war with her sister. Mia hates garbage bags, fireworks, dogs on TV, getting her wrinkles cleaned and watching her sister Izzy chew on toys that she called dibs on. 

Izzy is a 1 year old English Bulldog. She loves to antagonize her sister, steal blankets away from her parents and chase cats and squirrels around her yard. She hates getting her nails cut, putting her harness on and baths. 

Zoey is a 4.5 year old Scottish Terrier. Her favorite things to do are play with her toys, take walks, dog park time, and protecting her backyard from intruders, especially rabbits!! Her least favorite things to do are to come back inside(Unless treats are involved) and watching her parents pack for trips.


Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips from Work Right NW!