As a life-long lover of the canine species, I can never quite picture my home without a devoted, doe-eyed, wet-nosed, tail-wagging companion – or two. Whether they’re scruffy, small and full of attitude or a huge, bear-like creature that towers over your kitchen table, the truth is, dogs can affect our lives so much more then we realise. For generations, they’ve been dubbed man’s best friend. But, were you aware that having a dog comes with a long list of advantages, many of which are scientifically backed?
Can having a pet of the canine persuasion really affect your health and happiness – so much so that it changes your life? Read through the following 8 pros and decide for yourself! See how dogs can change your life – for the better!
1. Dogs need walks! You’ll get more exercise
By default, you’ll automatically get more exercise with a dog, since they need to be walked several times a day – and that doesn’t even include play time! Add up all that extra walking and you’re looking at an increase in cardiovascular activity. That’s a big plus for your health, as it significantly lowers your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
2. With better health, your heart can grow stronger
Since you’re exercising more, your health will improve. As such, before you know it, your heart will improve as well, getting stronger and stronger. According to a Chinese study conducted in 2017, a scientific connection was made between owning a dog and a decreased risk of coronary artery disease. Believe it or not, you can lower your blood pressure and heart rate by simply petting your furry best.
3. A healthier body means you’re less prone to sickness
The more we sanitize our home, the healthier we are, right? Well, while cleaning commercials make us believe this is true, the fact is, consistent, high levels of antibacterial disinfection don’t necessarily ensure a better environment. The less germs our bodies are exposed to, the less likely we’re able to learn to overcome them naturally. Luckily, dog owners don’t have to go very far to find a plethora of diverse bacteria – they merely must turn to their pooch. Another study shows that bacteria found on dogs bring a biodiversity that is potentially beneficial to our health. What does it all mean? It seems that people with dogs build-up a tougher immune system, resulting in a stronger, healthier body that’s less prone to sickness.
4. Increased allergy resistance
Usually, the more you’re around furry friends, the more your body gets used to allergens and decreases the severity of allergic reactions. However, did you know that introducing a dog to your child – before it’s even born – has a dramatic health impact? In 2017, Microbiome, a scientific research journal, published a study that highlighted the benefits of having a dog on infants during pregnancy. The research showed a reduction of common allergies after birth, as children who were tested had two key allergy-fighting bacteria in their system: Oscillospira and Ruminococcus. Not only did these two bacteria lower the risk of common allergies, but there was also a connection to a reduced chance of asthma, obesity, and eczema.
5. A great way to meet new people
With a sociable companion by your side, you’ll be able to meet new people, make new friends, and even become a part of social networks. In a 2015 study that was published in the research journal PLOS/ONE, dogs were viewed as both an excellent way to spark new relationships and maintain thriving social networks.
6. Boost mood and happiness, decrease anxiety and depression
In Habri Central, a journal that studies the human-animal bond, a 2016 study was published that talked about several benefits of owning a pet. Interactions with animals regularly alleviated feelings of social isolation, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and stress. By providing comfort, security, emotional support, and a sense of routine, a domestic animal like a dog helped people manage their mental health conditions. In essence, having a beloved pet to take care of makes you want to take care of yourself. Also, interacting with a much-loved pet releases oxycontin in the brain, known as the “feel good” chemical, thus naturally boosting mood and happiness levels, which results in less anxiety and depression.
7. Less stress at home, less stress in general – even at work
The uncanny ability for dogs to decrease stress and anxiety in their human’s lives, undoubtedly, spills-over into everyday life – which includes work. If you’re one of the lucky few who can bring their pets to work, you’ll be able to further benefit from their calming effect throughout the day – and so will your coworkers, of course. And, what happens when there’s less stress in the workplace? Productivity levels rise – and so does job satisfaction.
8. Dogs teach (little) humans about compassion
How do you teach your kids about compassion, empathy, and caring for others? The answer is, by having a dog. In a 2017 study published in PMC, the U.S. National Library of Medicine and Health, childhood attachment to pets was associated with compassion, and encouraged positive attitudes towards animals. Kids with dogs, specifically, scored the highest when it came to pet attachment. Additionally, it was found that children were better able to “regulate their emotions” with a canine companion, as dogs respond easily and quickly to a child’s “attachment-related behaviour.”
Dogs – man’s best friend
Although I’ve only noted 8 pros of having a dog, I truly believe the list is nearly endless. But, then again, having had the honor of living with and loving five dogs over the years, I guess you could say I’m a bit biased.
In my opinion, dogs are so much more than a pet you care for, feed, and play with when the mood strikes. They’re the silent listener of your troubles, the shoulder to cry on when no one’s around. As the center of their world, they wait for you – their favorite human – patiently at the door. They remind you of what’s good in life, of how to laugh and play like a carefree spirit.
When you have no idea how to read a human or approach another person, you don’t need to worry about that with a dog – they’re unequivocally accepting. Unerringly devoted, endlessly loving, as I said in the beginning of this article, there’s a very good reason why dogs are man’s best friend.
As everything else in life, having a dog can have its cons too. And it’s important to consider the cons before adopting because having a dog is a long term commitment after all. But if you can get past the small struggles that dogs can sometimes bring, your new pet will surely enrich your life and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without a furry companion by your side!