St. Vincent Health

Looking toward the future, St. Vincent General Hospital District has embraced the concept of a health campus where specialists, primary care, Lake County Public Health Agency, and other health-related offices reside in the old hospital building and synergistically complement services in the adjacent, new hospital facility.

822 W 4th St. Leadville, CO 80461

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822 W 4th St.

Leadville, CO 80461

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The Health Benefits of Canine Companionship are Numerous!

Sonja Stilp MD is pictured with her black dog on a mountain top in the summer months

The Health Benefits of Canine Companionship are Numerous!

Neuroscientists can now confirm what many of us have known all along: dogs really are a man’s best friend. Numerous studies show that owning a dog can improve our health in many ways, including: slowing cognitive decline, increasing brain activity, enabling better team building, and reducing stress.

Dogs Impact On Our Brains

A study out of the University of Michigan found that people who own dogs tend to have slower cognitive decline in old age than those without dogs.

Another study revealed that petting a real dog stimulates brain activity compared to petting a stuffed animal. Other studies go a step further showing that petting dogs lowers cortisol levels (the “stress hormone”) in their owners and leads to an increase in oxytocin (the “love hormone”) for both the pet and owner. This same study suggests that dogs and owners could mutually sense the other’s emotional state. Even in work settings, a study showed that the mere presence of a dog led people to act more cooperatively.

Dogs Impact on Our Overall Health

Simply owning a pet can lead to a reduction in the number of minor health issues and increase in exercise. A German and Austrian longitudinal study of 10,969 people revealed that people who own pets are “the healthiest group” and “people who cease to have a pet or never had one are less healthy.” The study also suggests that pet owners make about 15 percent fewer annual doctor visits than non-owners.

In conclusion, owning a dog has numerous benefits that have been proven by neuroscience. Dogs can improve cognitive function, increase brain activity, improve team building, reduce stress, and enhance overall health. It’s not just dog lovers, but also scientists extolling the benefits of dog ownership. Dogs really are our best friends.

Lower cortisol levels (stress hormone) AND Increased oxytocin (love hormone)


Sonja Stilp, M.D. is seeing patients in Leadville at St. Vincent Health. As a Physiatrist, Sonja Stilp, MD  offers specialized care for pain management and sports medicine.  She is board-certified and fellowship-trained with advanced training in regenerative medicine and biohacking. Dr. Stilp practices self LOVE and care EVERY DAY.  Appointments in Leadville at St. Vincent Health can be scheduled by calling 719-486-7166.
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