I’ve written ’23 facts why owning a dog is good for you’, because I have always known that fact, but have not had the evidence to prove it.
Throughout my many years in nursing, I witnessed what I can only describe as several heartwarming miracles—all associated with dogs helping people. We know there are specially trained dogs to help people lead independent lives. There are working dogs which help keep us safe or dogs who assist farmers in keeping us fed. What about the everyday mutt, who isn’t specifically trained to help people, but do so intuitively. They love us unconditionally, they forgive our failings and always know when we need a little bit of TLC.
In my nursing days, I always shared my dogs with my patients both in hospital and in nursing home environments. That is when I’ve heard people speak for the first time after a long illness or trauma when a dog nuzzled their hand. The joy witnessed when a dog has cuddled up to a person who has been disengaged from life, and slowly puts their hand out to touch the dog. Dogs are true miracle makers. Below you’ll find 23 facts that dog ownership is good for you, including the evidence that dog owners already know.
#1. Owning a dog Increases Levels of Exercise
On average, about 80% of the Western population don’t get the recommended 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity exercise we should take weekly. But according to a 2017 study, the researcher found that owning a dog made people more active than non-dog owners whatever the weather. The results of the survey also found that the dog owners had much better health overall.
Owning a dog will motivate you to exercise every day, especially when he stands by the door with a pleading expression waiting for a nice walk. If you take your dog for a 30-minute walk each day, your health will soon benefit from the exercise and fresh air.
#2. Increased Empathy
A 2017 study found that children with a pet appeared to show more compassion and a positive attitude towards animals, than those without a pet. In the study, this was more evident in children between the ages of 7 to 12. Caring for a dog helps children to build an understanding of responsibility and empathy.
#3. Owning a Dog Helps to Prevent Social Isolation
Owning a dog leads to greater levels of interaction between people and help them to become better communicators. A 2015 peer-reviewed research article found that this interaction often leads to friendships and social support networks.
Dogs make you more social – Approximately 40% of pet owners make new friends much quicker than those without a pet according to a 2015 survey. Researchers found that dog owners got to know their neighbours more often. Dog owners were significantly more likely than other pet owners to make friends with others they met through socialising with their dogs. I agree that dogs help you become more social. I find it hard not to interact with other dog owners when walking, although I usually wouldn’t have a random stranger conversation.
It’s a scientific fact ( 2019 Australian study) that dogs make you feel less lonely, and that that new dog owners feelings of loneliness decreased within three months.
#4. You Get Sick Less Frequently by owning a dog.
Dogs and most other pets carry many germs. So, now researchers say that when these germs come into your home, they increase germs’ diversity within your environment. As you and your family become exposed to these pet-related germs, it will help your body build up an immunity. So, people with dogs get sick less often than those who don’t have any pets!
#5. Dog Owning is good for your heart.
Studies show that Dog owners often lived longer than non-dog owners longer—the findings based on this article’s positive influences. Reviews have the data to back up the claims of the health benefits of why owning a dog is right for you. One study found that dog-owners who suffered a heart attack would more often survive and live through the next year than those with dogs or pets.
Another study also found that people who live independently with a dog are 35% less likely to die from a myocardial infarction (MI), and 28% were less likely to die of an ischemic stroke (CVA) than those living alone without a dog.
Studies have shown that petting a dog lowers a person’s heart rate. Therefore, dog owners are more likely to have a healthy heart. Male pet owners also tend to experience a reduced rate of heart disease.
#6. Decreased Triglyceride Levels
An article released by Harvard Health Resources found that lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels were evident in dog owners than non-dog-owners. Researchers could not explain these differences in cholesterol and triglyceride levels through diet, smoking, or body mass index. Dog owners experience fewer health problems. One crucial fact of owning a dog is that dog owners are healthier than non-dog owners.
#7. Decreased Doctor Visits for the Elderly
A 2017 study in the ‘Journal of Personality and Social Psychology’ – found that there were health benefits for all ages of dog-owners. Those seniors who owned pets, especially dogs, were less likely to contact their doctors than those without dogs.
Dogs provide a sense of emotional wellbeing thanks to the unconditional love they give, which is why they’re also great company and comfort for people who live alone. Owning a dog can help people recover from personal trauma, such as bereavement, mental health problems, and feel better.
Interestingly, the study noted that dogs appeared to be more beneficial to older people than cats.
#8. Dog Ownership Helps with Weight Loss!
A small-scale study in 2010 found that people who went for a walk five times a week with a dog lost an average of 14.4 pounds over twelve months. It is related to the fact that owning a dog has many health benefits regarding getting more exercise when dog walking. The paper points out that the study participants said it didn’t feel like exercising; instead, they thought it was more like fulfilling a responsibility to the dog they were walking.
#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. You’re less likely to feel depressed.
Studies show that your mental health benefits from owning a dog. Depression is less likely in dog owners, and those diagnosed with clinical depression appear to be less depressed than other people. Caring for a dog helps relieve symptoms of depression and encourages people to be more positive. Often, just the fact that your dog depends on you will motivate you to get up and get out and about.
There have been lots of studies that have shown how dogs decrease stress levels. Petting your dog, playing with your dog, and simply watching your dog can reduce your stress each day. Research shows that dog ownership reduces stress hormones, and the effects usually outweigh the stress caused by caring for a dog.
#11. Reduced Allergies and Asthma in Children
Children raised around a dog usually suffer less from allergies. Homes with a dog can help children grow up with increased immunity to pet allergies later in life.
A study by Alan Beck, ScD, director of the Centre for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University suggests babies raised in families with pets are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. The most significant benefits of having a dog Beck found was a child under six months old, was exposed to the family’s pet dog.
In support of this, Beck cites multiple studies that show children who live with dogs or cats have fewer ear infections and colds during their first year compared to babies living in homes without
#12. You may detect cancer sooner.
An unexpected benefit of owning a dog is that it may even save your life by helping you to detect cancer.
A dog’s incredible sense of smell is useful in a variety of situations, including cancer detection. Many dog owners have reported their dog sniffing, licking, or nudging spots that later became cancerous.
#13. Dog Ownership Can Reduce Your Chance of Eczema
As mentioned in section #11, the many benefits of owning a dog extend to families with children. A study of 636 children published in the Journal of Paediatrics reveals that the rate of eczema is much lower in children who live with dogs. Although this study sample is relatively small and further research needs to follow, the results are both surprising and, for dog owners, just one more reason why dog ownership benefits the whole family.
#14. Dogs help people with Dementia Symptoms.
Multiple studies on the interactions between dogs and Alzheimer’s patients have shown that their symptoms of Alzheimer’s more controllable through positive contact with dogs. Studies have found that dogs’ companionship reduces the incidence of emotional outbursts and aggression in Alzheimer’s patients. Dog ownership’s health benefits will increase when an Alzheimer’s patient gets a dog in the disease’s early stages.
People with Alzheimer’s have fewer outbursts when there is a dog in the home. A 2011 study shows that people with dementia who were in the presence of a visiting dog experienced a reduced number of aggressive outbursts and reduced heart rates, which suggest a calming effect.
#15. Dog Ownership Helps to the Development of Emotional Bonds
People who struggle with feeling emotional contact, have found the benefits of owning a dog helps them develop emotional bonds. A 2016 research article found that highly educated men, who are unlikely to form a strong emotional attachment, are more likely to create strong emotional bonds with their dogs than their less-educated counterparts.
#16. Owning a Dog makes you Happy!
The statement that ‘dog ownership makes you happy,’ doesn’t surprise most dog owners. You’re more content with a dog in the home, and as previously mentioned, you and your family are more likely to be healthier too. A 2003 study found that positive interaction (from 5 to 24 mins. in duration) between dogs and people resulted in increased dopamine levels in the brain in both humans and dogs. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters that play an essential role in feelings of happiness, and low levels of dopamine are associated with depression.
#17. Owning a Dog helps with Pain Management
The same 2003 study as above titled “Neurophysiological correlates of affiliative behaviour between humans and dogs” Research found that again positive interaction between dogs and people of around 5 to 24 minutes, increased beta-endorphin and oxytocin.
Beta-endorphins and oxytocin play an essential role in how to manage pain and pain thresholds. Another exciting study back in 1996 found that dog ownership helped reduce pain relievers compared to non-dog owners. Researchers found that people in the study were less reliant on pain medication while undergoing animal-based therapies.
#18. Reduced Rates of Anxiety found in Dog Owners.
Many dog owners will often worry about Canine Separation Anxiety and reducing other types of anxiety in dogs, when, in fact, dogs help to reduce stress in people. Many studies, including the 2003 survey cited twice above, found that positive interaction between owners and their dogs reduces anxiety. These results stem from decreased glucocorticoid (a stress hormone) levels and increased dopamine and oxytocin levels.
#19. Dogs in the Workplace Lower Stress Levels
If you happen to work for a company that allows dogs in the workplace, you benefit from extra time with your dog. You can also benefit from a decrease in workplace stress, which will also help your co-workers.
For example, one study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that dogs in the workplace resulted in employees feeling less stressed and experienced better job satisfaction.
#20. Improved Communication in those with Communication Impairment
Multiple studies on individuals with autism and dogs have shown that children with communication difficulties resulting from autism benefit from improved communication within their family when they have a support dog. These children also greatly benefit from the social interaction that having a dog around brings because it makes socialising with peers more comfortable and easier to do. After all, their familiar dog is the centre of attention.
#21. Owning a Dog Lowers Your Blood Pressure
One of the vital health benefits of dog ownership is the reduced risk of heart problems. Studies of human and dog interaction have found that positive interaction between dog owners and their dogs leads to decreased blood pressure.
Reducing high blood pressure has many positive benefits, including the reduced risk of suffering a stroke or life-threatening blood clots. So, the good news about owning a dog is that if you already have good heart health, having a dog makes you less likely to get heart disease because of your dog’s effect on your blood pressure.
#22. Reduction of PTSD Symptoms
Studies have found that dogs are beneficial to soldiers who have PTSD because they provide a companionship that can be trusted.
Studies have focused on dogs’ ability to help those with PTSD cope with the anxiety, disorientation, and depression that come with PTSD.
Previous studies focused on the health benefits of having a therapy animal. However, some studies show that non-therapy dogs can offer help of stress and anxiety reduction.
#23. Dog Ownership may Contribute to an Owner’s Self-Esteem.
Dogs provide an additional source of social support and may contribute to the owner’s self-esteem. Self-esteem is considered a basic human need and is associated with psychological conditions such as depressive. A 2020 study, titled Differences in Self-Esteem Between Cat Owners, Dog Owners, and Individuals Without Pets showed that dog owners reported higher self-esteem scores than individuals without pets.
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Owning a dog is linked to a feeling of Well-being. Improved Mental Health and longer life, all proved by scientific studies. Of course, most long- term dog owners already knew this, but it’s nice to have the proof.
When you look into your dog’s eyes, your brain gets a boost of oxytocin, which is known as “the love hormone.” So, now you know why you can’t help falling in love with your dog or puppy.
Generally, most studies found that pet ownership may play a significant role in people’s lives. A pet may provide an additional social support source by providing company and being part of the household. There is evidence of numerous benefits of pet ownership, including satisfaction with life and happiness. Companionship provided by owning a dog may be vital for older people to alleviate social isolation. There is also evidence supporting social support’s association with beneficial effects related to cardiovascular, endocrine, immune functioning, and self-esteem.
Owning a dog has far more benefits than not owning one. And looking at all the evidence, we can really believe that a dog is truly a ‘man’s best friend.’