baby and dogNot breaking news: People who own dogs live longer, happier lives. That's why they call dogs "man's best friend," right? Breaking news: People who own dogs don't merely have a better quality of life overall, they're actually less likely to develop specific, serious medical problems like asthma and heart disease. Ironic breaking news: The things about your dog that drive you the craziest just happen to be the things that could end up saving your life.

Doggone it! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) But it really is true. So the next time you find yourself grumbling about dog hair on the sofa or being dragged around the block in the rain by a dog in desperate need of a walk, keep these health facts in mind:

1. Kids who grow up with dogs in the house are less likely to develop asthma. A recent study showed that "microbes in house dust from dog-owning homes protect against a common viral infection associated with increased risk of asthma development." Those same microbes are thought to work in the gut, too, to boost immunity in general (much like probiotics.)

2. Dogs keep your heart healthy. It's a fact: There's a proven "connection between owning a dog and reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels." Probably has something to do with those all-weather walks you're forced to take!

3. Dogs are better than therapy. Seriously! (And probably cheaper.) According to a study done at the Medical College of Virginia, "hospitalized patients with mental health issues, therapy with animals significantly reduced anxiety levels more than conventional recreational therapy sessions."

Aww, don't you want to go give your dog a good belly rub now?

Do you think your dog keeps you healthy? How?

 

Image via Aaron Silvers/Flickr