By Katy Cable 
It’s the month of LOVE! And for us dog owners, no question, our pups fill our hearts
❤️ but they also play an important role in the vital health of that organ as well. You may be very surprised to learn dogs offer much more than just companionship. The following are 10 surprising health benefits of owning a dog you may not have known:​

1. Since it’sValentines Day (almost) Let’s start with your ticker! An astounding amount of research concludes that owning a dog will give you a much healthier heart! Not only are dog owners less likely to have a heart attack, if they do, their survival rate is much higher than those who don’t own a dog. Studies have shown that the simple act of petting a dog lowers a person’s heart rate. Men tend to fare even better, as male dog owners in particular tend to experience a reduced rate of heart disease.

2. Your overall health will improve. Dog owners experience far fewer illnesses compared to non-dog owners. Perhaps because dogs expose their owners to lots of germs which builds up their immunity. As a result, not only do dog owners get sick less often, should they fall ill, it’s with much less severity than a non-dog owner. Dog owners also tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels compared to non-dog owners.

3. Believe it or not, your dog may save your life by helping you detect cancer. Dog’s have an amazing sense of smell which can be used for many purposes including tracking, drug detection, finding missing person’s, and even detecting cancer. A number of dog owners credit their dogs with saving their life when their dog began repeatedly nudging, licking, and sniffing spots that turned out to be cancerous. Finally, many dogs are trained service animals who provide life-saving skills by detecting seizures, low blood sugar and other possible life-threatening health issues.

4. You’re less likely to suffer from “the blues” as owning a dog helps depression. Dog owners are far less likely to suffer from clinical depression and those who have been diagnosed, aren’t likely to be as severely depressed as those who do not own a dog. Caring for a dog naturally relieves depression symptoms since owners tend to be more positive around their pet.

5. Dog owners are much less “stressed-out!” Many studies have shown all the ways owning a dog reduces stress hormones. Playing with your dog, walking your dog, petting your dog, and even LOOKING at your dog can greatly reduce your stress levels. Even the stress of a new pet, training a pet, or caring for a sick pet, are far outweighed by the overall stress-relief benefits.

6. You will exercise more and be in better shape. Owning a dog motivates you to get outside and exercise every day. On those days when you’d much rather flop on the couch and stuff your face with potato chips while watching TV, the sight of your doggie waiting by the door anxious to go for a walk, will likely be the perfect motivation to get out there. Just a 30 minute walk every day can greatly improve your overall health.

7. Your social life (and maybe ❤love❤life) will improve. Not only is walking your dog great exercise, forget, your very own dog might also help you get a hot date! People are much more likely to stop and talk with you when you’re walking a dog. Going to the dog park or running errands with your dog may just lead to other dog-loving strangers striking up a conversation with you about your dog. -And WHO KNOWS WHERE THAT MAY LEAD?!

8. Your kids will be less likely to have allergies. Children raised with a dog in their home are less likely to have allergies. In fact, living in a home with a dog can help kids grow up to have an increased immunity to pet allergies later in life as well.

9. You’ll feel safer. Dogs can be an effective home security system. Studies show that barking dogs deter burglars. Just knowing that you’ve got a dog who can use its keen sense of hearing to detect anyone prowling around can help increase your sense of security, which is good for both your mental and physical health.

10. Dog owners grow old gracefully. The elderly also greatly benefit from owning a dog. Not only do dogs offer wonderful security and companionship, caregivers of elderly patients report they experience far less stress. Research also shows Alzheimer’s patients have fewer outbursts when there’s a dog in the home.

So, if your love life has you feeling blue this Valentine’s Day, maybe finding true love at the animal shelter will be a great route! I would like to wish you a Valentine’s Day filled with lots of pugs, kisses and everything that makes your ❤️ sing!