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The mental and physical benefits of owning a dog

Man’s best friend. So cliche, and yet so accurate.

Who could resist that face? Photo: Anita Peeples/Unsplash

Dogs are an integral subset of society, and for good reason. They protect our homes and loved ones, provide the ultimate level of companionship, and often teach their human owners more about empathy and loyalty than any fellow man (or woman) ever could.

Dogs are the ultimate travel companion. Photo: Teddy Kelley/Unsplash

We know the obvious benefits of owning an adorable furry friend, but there are a few hidden perks you may not be aware of.

RELATED: The best national parks to take your dog

Owning a dog may increase your life span — It’s science, folks.

According to WebMD, owning a pet can “help lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety, and boost immunity,” just to name a few added benefits.

Researcher James E. Gern, MD, tells WebMD that many studies have suggested that children who grow up in a home with furry pets run less risk of allergies.

“Dogs are dirty animals, and this suggests that babies who have greater exposure to dirt and allergens have a stronger immune system,” says Gern.

Getting outside and playing is one of the best parts about owning a dog. Photo: James Padolsey/Unsplash

RELATED: Here’s what you need to know before taking your dog camping

Not only will having a pooch give you mental support, and keep loneliness at bay perhaps in the later years of your life, having a pet greatly increases levels of physical activity.

Unless you want your dog to be a couch potato, you’ve got to walk them at least once a day, so you get outside more often and enjoy the beauties of this world with your best friend. Everybody wins.

Your Fitbit will thank you for all those extra steps, and so will your heart.