There are plenty of great reasons to adopt a Shih Tzu, and they aren’t just good for your spirit. Did you know that your furry friend is actually good for your health? Here are five awesome health benefits of owning a Shih Tzu:
Shih Tzus can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Dogs have a calming, comforting effect on people that lowers blood pressure and can be especially beneficial to those who suffer from hypertension. Plus, pet owners (especially men) tend to have significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than their pet-less friends. Shih Tzus: they’re literally good for your heart!
They keep you active. It’s easy to lose the motivation to exercise as you get older, but adopting a pup and walking her regularly can improve bone health, flexibility, muscle tone and lung capacity. Studies have shown that dog owners who take regular walks with their four-legged companions not only get more weekly exercise than non-dog owners, they are also more likely to meet federal health criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise. While Shih Tzus require less outdoor playtime than other breeds, that doesn’t mean they won’t keep you on your toes with potty trips!
Shih Tzus can help those suffering from certain forms of dementia. A study at the University of California at Davis found that Alzheimer’s patients exhibit less stress and fewer outbursts if there is a dog in the home. Aggressive behavior in patients can even be reduced with some playful interaction with the pet, creating a soothing effect. And caretakers can benefit from the presence of a Shih Tzu, too! Often, problem behavior displayed by one afflicted with Alzheimer’s is a reaction to the stressed response of the caretaker. The presence of a pet can ease that stress.
They can lower depression and fight off loneliness. Depression is a common battle for seniors, especially for those who have lost a spouse. Shih Tzus can offer a sense of companionship, not to mention unconditional love and support. Dogs can be perhaps the only completely nonjudgmental presence in a person’s life, and whether it’s been three hours or three minutes since they’ve seen you, they’re always excited when you walk through the door.
They can lead you to a better social life. Some seniors tend to become socially withdrawn as time goes on, but dogs are natural conversation starters. Further, the presence of a dog has been shown to lead to more positive topics of conversation. One study found that seniors who took walks without a pet tended to discuss the past and health issues when they crossed paths with a neighbor. Dog walkers, on the other hand, were more likely to discuss their canines with neighbors. Plus, they often shared light banter with the dog during the walk, even when other people weren’t around. That means Shih Tzus can provide seniors with more positive social interactions simply by being there!
You always felt like your Shih Tzu was good for you, but did you have any idea how literal the reality of it is? Whether they’re warming your heart metaphorically or actually improving your cardiovascular health, it’s tough to find a downside to owning one of these precious pooches!
Vee Cecil is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor. She is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her recently-launched blog.