For generations, dogs have been one of the most popular pets because of their unwavering loyalty, unconditional love and commitment. They are very special animals that forge deep bonds with their owners that can last a lifetime. But did you know they have many more benefits to our health and well-being than simply being our best buddy?
1) They help us not stress out as much.
Yes, everyone knows that having a dog helps people be more positive but research has even more to say. The most simple daily tasks of keeping your dog healthy - such as daily walks, playing in the backyard or petting his soft fur can cause the body to produce less of the stress hormone called cortisol and instead create more oxytocin, the "happy hormone". (Source below)
2) Kids with dogs miss less school.
Once again research has shown us that "Pet-owning children attended school for an additional three weeks of school compared to non-pet owning children (aged five to seven years). Children in primary school had 20 percent better attendance respectively than non-pet owning children." (Source)
3) They can help you quit smoking.
If you are finally ready to quit, its time to adopt a dog! Just knowing the harmful effects of second hand smoke on their pets can be enough motivation to finally kick the habit. 28 percent of smokers with pets in the home said this knowledge was what pushed them to make the change. (Source)
4) We get more physical activity.
Dog owners were shown to have a higher level of activity than non-dog owners and walked for almost double the amount of time each day compared to those without pets (source) and "34 percent more likely to achieve their recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week". (Source below)
5) They help wallflowers bloom.
Because of their need for exercise, being outdoors, exploring and puppy play dates, dogs are great for relieving social isolation. Walking through your neighborhood or visiting a dog park places their humans around new people and conversations spark. When out in the community, a passerby is more likely to stop and chat once they are introduced to your furry friend.
6) Dogs reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Everyone talks to their dog and they are great listeners! But, talking with your dog and petting them often leads to lower blood pressure and wards off your risk for many health issues, including cardiovascular disease. (source)
7) They help deepen your human relationships.
The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University discovered that “strong attachment to pets reported feeling more connected to their communities and relationships.” Also, the more secure of a bond as a teenager someone had with their dog, the more empathetic and confident they were in their adult life. (source)
8) They can literally be a life saver.
Many dogs can detect when someone has cancer with up to 97% accuracy (source). This is attributed to the fact that a dog's sense of smell is about one million times better than your average human. They also can detect the presence of allergens such as peanuts for people with severe reactions and sensitivities (source). With training, they also can learn to alert others when their owner is or will be experiencing a seizure (source). The applications for using dog's extraordinary skills is constantly being discovered and applied to helping people across the globe.
Human-canine interaction: exploring stress indicator response patterns of salivary cortisol and immunoglobulin A. Krause-Parello, C.A., Tychowski, J., Gonzalez, A., et. al. Research and Theory for Nursing Practice, 2012;26(1):25-40.
The impact of dog walking on leisure-time physical activity: results from a population-based survey of Michigan adults. Reeves, M.J., Rafferty, A.P., Miller, C.E., et al. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2011 Mar;8(3):436-44.