For people who don’t yet have a dog, the case for owning one can seem quite weak. After all, they cause a mess around the house, you have to spend money looking after them, and you can’t just book holidays whenever you want.
But it turns out that having a pooch is actually much better for you than many people realize. And science backs up these claims.
In this article, we’re going to run through some of the evidence-based reasons why having a dog makes your life rock. It sounds weird, but it’s also enlightening.
Science-Backed Reasons Why Getting A Dog Makes Your Life Rock
Dogs Make You Feel Better
Raise your hand if you occasionally have “dark moods.”
If you do, then you’re not alone. More than 80 percent of people say that they experience forms of transitory depression where they wonder what the point of it all is.
Fortunately, science says that dogs can help. Research indicates that having a furry friend naturally reduces your stress levels and diminishes the production of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. Those with less of this compound in their systems appear to live longer and be healthier as a result.
Dogs Can Keep Your Heart Healthy
Move aside statins – it turns out that dogs are a powerful weapon in the fight against heart disease. And it’s not just opinion. The American Heart Association recently released a publication that states that dogs officially reduce the risk of getting heart disease. What’s more, their effect seems to be independent of exercise, meaning that dogs themselves appear to have quasi-magical powers.
Researchers think that dogs improve heart disease by reducing stress levels. So even if you have high cholesterol, owning a dog can help you cut your risk and live a long and healthy life.
Dogs Are Great For Introductions
Think about how many films and TV series use dogs to get people to meet and talk to each other. Unlike humans, dogs aren’t averse to having conversations with the other beings they meet in the world. They never need to “come out of their shell” because they don’t have one. They feel free to introduce themselves to people, no matter where they go.
And for owners, that can be a real boon. If you’re a shy person, a dog can help you forge relationships with the people around you. It could even be the catalyst that starts your next relationship.
According to studies from Harvard, people who own dogs are around five times more likely to get to know people living in their neighborhoods. Dog walking is in the top five ways to meet people, the statistics say.
Dogs Help Fight Allergies
Here’s another weird effect of owning a dog: they may help fight allergies.
The evidence for this comes from the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute. They found that prenatal exposure to dogs dramatically reduced allergic and immune disorders once the babies were born. Baby’s immune systems seemed better able to tell the difference between genuine threats and their own bodies.
What’s more, the benefits didn’t just apply to unborn children, but also those in their first couple of years of life. Being around a dog raises the level of immunoglobulin in the blood – a marker of strong immune function.
Dogs Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is one of the leading factors for disability and disease across the world. More people are sick because of it than smoking!
Dogs, however, seem to have the ability to lower blood pressure. The research isn’t entirely clear on why. But people who have dogs tend to have lower diastolic and systolic readings than those who don’t.
Again, the reason for this seems to come down to a concept called “cardiovascular reactivity.” The idea is that people who have dogs are less likely to respond physiologically to stressors in their lives and, therefore, less likely to develop hypertension.
Dogs Can Guard You
Training, something you can find out here, can be a lot of fun. It lets you tap into your dog’s innate intelligence and gets them to follow your instructions.
For instance, did you know that your dog can literally smell cancer? It sounds like a strange thing. But when we have cancer, our bodies create different types of metabolic byproducts. And strangely enough, your dog can sense them.
Dogs Make You Slim
The idea that a dog could make you slim seems a little odd. After all, aren’t diet and exercise the only methods for achieving a svelte waistline?
Well, not according to researchers. Investigators have found that dogs encourage physical activity, and that helps to keep people in the normal BMI range.
A Chicago study found that people who own dogs are much more likely to stick with their exercise schedules than those who don’t, meaning that dogs act as a kind of catalyst.
For anyone who has owned a dog, this fact isn’t surprising. Dogs have a way of making you want to take them out. They’re excellent at begging. And they will continue to pester you until you relent.
Dogs Can Be Therapeutic
Thanks to the coronavirus and the restrictions on our lives, many people are feeling anxious and depressed at the moment. We’re seeing an epidemic of mental health issues ravage the western world in a way that is historically unprecedented.
Dogs, however, might be the answer.
Therapists, for instance, have been using dogs for a long time with their patients. The reason is simple: dogs have an uncanny ability to remain in the present moment. They don’t think about the past or the future. Instead, they are content with the world as it is right now.
In other words dogs – and the rest of nature for that matter – have an important lesson to teach us. They want us to know that it’s okay to enjoy life right now and just accept whatever situations come out ways. Dogs don’t go around, beating themselves up for not being good enough, and neither should you.
Weirdly, dogs appear to help with all manner of conditions. People with chronic pain, for instance, often feel better when there’s a pooch in the house. Similarly, research shows that dogs help to make children in hospitals feel more cheerful.
Dogs Are Always There For You
When it comes to emotional support, dogs are there for you. It doesn’t matter if it is the one-hundredth day in a row you’ve had a bad day at the office, they’ll still be wagging their tails, excited to see you, when you walk through the door.
This behavior comes from the fact that they don’t have attachments as we do. Their main concern is being around other creatures, like you. They’re not bothered about their love lives or careers. They’re simply happy to see you.
From a therapy perspective, that kind of attitude is most welcome. It’s nice that they want to be around you and aren’t afraid of your bad moods. They’ll always listen, even if they don’t understand. But that’s okay.