Can Owning a Dog Make You Healthier or Boost Your Immune System?

Can Owning a Dog Make You Healthier or Boost Your Immune System?

We love them even when they roll in mud puddles and start gnawing on our favourite slippers. We at Rawmate are dog-lovers ourselves and don’t need to tell you how much love and laughter a dog can bring to the household. But did you know dogs are also really good for your health?

Link Between Dogs, Infants, and Reduced Risk of Childhood Asthma

Infants exposed to dogs during the first year of life are less likely to develop childhood asthma (by about 13%, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics). The same study, which analysed data collected on more than a million Swedish children, showed that children growing up with farm animals were 50% less likely to develop asthma by the time they hit school age.

Dogs and Stronger Immune Systems

A reduced risk of asthma is not the only health benefit for children. In families with dogs, children also seem to have a lower risk of colds and ear infections suggesting that dogs help create stronger immune systems in youngsters. A study in Finland that followed almost 400 children noted that babies who grew up in homes with pets had fewer ear infections and were significantly less likely to need a prescription for antibiotics when compared to babies in pet-free households. Interestingly, another Finnish study observed that infants exposed to indoor dogs had a lower incidence of developing Type I diabetes, though the researchers felt more studies are needed to explore the relationship.

What’s the Link Between Dogs and Better Immune Systems?

Why would it be that having a dog boosts immunity? One theory is that exposure to pet dander and the microbes carried in from outside by dogs rev up the developing immune system and help it to mature faster. An interesting finding from a Finnish study is that dogs who spend more time outside have a stronger positive correlation with healthier children. It’s possible that those dogs bring in a greater number and variety of microbes than pets that spend most of their lives indoors.

It’s Not Just Kids That Benefit from Living With Dogs

Studies with children and infants continue to point to the positive benefits of pet ownership, but adults also reap health benefits by cohabiting with canines. Turns out that having to get up and outside to walk your dog can help reduce your risk of heart disease. According to this University of Victoria study from Canada, people who have dogs on average walk 1.6 times as far as those without over the course of a week. Larger and more active dogs inspire their owners to get out and about more than smaller, more sedate pooches.


While it’s quite likely that stroking your dog is something your pup enjoys, stroking a pet has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, a good thing when it comes to optimising your own cardio health. There’s lots of research out there that shows stress is not good for you. Owning a dog can help reduce stress levels by providing companionship and forcing you to get out and reap the stress busting benefits of regular exercise. Other positive fringe benefits include relieving social isolation (a good song social network is linked to living longer) and easing symptoms of depression. In one study, Swedish researchers concluded that the group most likely to benefit from dog ownership in terms of improved health, longer life expectancy and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease are those who live alone.


Let us know your thoughts and experience

We don’t need convincing that our canine companions are worth pampering, but we’d love to hear your stories about how you think your dogs improve your health. Leave us a comment below or post a photo of you and your pup enhancing each other’s lives on Instagram. Use the hashtag #rawmate so we can be sure to find your post! If you’d like to learn more about how to help you dog enjoy optimal health in return, follow this link to learn more about the benefits of switching to a Rawmate meal plan.


Matt Joseph

Staff writer

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