Every dog owner will vouch for the boundless joys that come with having a dog in your life. However, not many of us are conscious of the physical and mental health benefits that result from the company of a furry friend. Studies have only recently started to explore the benefits of the human-animal bond scientifically. The pleasure of snuggling up to your favorite canine is such a simple joy that it can change your life for the better. The list of benefits of having a dog is exhaustive. By the end of this read, you will agree that indeed your dog is your best friend.
Dogs can reduce stress and loneliness, they motivate you to exercise and play, they help with anxiety and depression. Dogs can even improve your cardiovascular health. Caring for a dog helps our children to grow up to be more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for the elderly. A dog can add genuine joy and wholehearted love to your life.
Spending quality time with your pet, whether it is a dog or any other animal makes you happy. Pets can help you to be healthy in so many ways, too.
Dogs help you to relax
- Just watching your dog playing will reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.
- Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe you after a tiring day.
- The companionship of a dog can ease loneliness to a great degree. Loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression. People suffering from PTSD, old age, communicable diseases etc who have found themselves lonely all of a sudden. A dog can help remove the ill effects of such loneliness.
- Companionship can help prevent illnesses that result from loneliness. It can add years to the life of someone who is withering away due to loneliness. Dog owners are able to talk to their pets and feel good when it would have been lonely otherwise. For people who do have family and friends but are not receiving emotional support as much as they need, a dog can really change that.
- We tend to become susceptible to stress and depression as the responsibilities and problems in our life start adding up.
- Dogs can help take the focus away from your everyday problems which can suck up all your happiness otherwise.
- Especially in case of people who are dealing with several problems alone, such a happy distraction can make a huge difference.
A Better Quality of Life
- Unlike parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and all human connections, dogs are not critical towards you. They do not give you any directions or orders. They are not constantly monitoring your every action. Dogs are forever loving.
Sense of security for children
- The mere presence of a dog at home can help provide a sense of security to children. Having the company and emotional support of a dog can help ease separation anxiety in children when their favourite parent or both parents are not around.
- The unconditional love and companionship of a pet helps to make a child feel important and also helps them to develop a positive self-image.
- Kids who are emotionally attached to their pets are better able to build relationships with other people.
- Caring for your pet dog can help make you feel needed and wanted.
- It helps to boost your sense of self-esteem.
Discover more about yourself
Your dog can help you to discover more about yourself. You will find your self doing things you would not have done if the dog was not there in your life. A dog will help you to find out what you enjoy and what activities invigorate you after a tiring day. The kind of dog you have also provides indications about your personality. Studies have shown that there is a very clear link between one’s personality and the breed of dog they own. People who own toy dogs tend to be more intelligent, while owners of utility dogs like Dalmatians and Bulldogs are the most conscientious. So when you get a dog, it will help you understand yourself better. Other studies have found that in general, dog owners are friendlier than cat owners.
For individuals and families who are sedentary and laid back in their day to day lives, an active lifestyle is advised by doctors. in such cases, simply getting a dog can change things greatly for them. Taking care of a dog and walking a dog involves a great deal of activity which helps to keep the dog owner active.
If you are an aged person, a dog also helps you to remain mobile well into your 70s and 80s. Most dog breeds are a great addition to the family for a healthy lifestyle.
A dog can help you with your mood swings. Dogs can detect your low moods and will act spontaneously to make you feel better. Hence owning a dog is a foolproof way to make sure that you always have someone to help brighten your mood.
Pets can be great socializers for their owners, helping you make new friends and maintain those friendships. Dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks and hikes or in dog parks. Dog owners also get to meet new people in pet stores, dog clubs and dog training classes.
- Playing with a dog or petting it can help to improve levels of oxytocin which is the stress-reducing hormone. It also decreases the production of cortisol which is the stress increasing hormone. This balancing of hormones can help a stressed person feel more relaxed. Reduction in stress can greatly benefit your overall health. Dogs help us laugh with their silly antics and fulfill our need for touch. Physical touch acts as a therapy by itself boosting the immune system and reducing stress. It also helps to decreases violent tendencies and builds trust.
- Dogs live in the moment and help you to live in the moment too. As dogs live in the moment, they don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. They can help you to become more mindful and appreciate the joy of the present moment.
- The companionship of a dog brings comfort and helps to ease anxiety. It helps to build confidence in people who are anxious about going out into the world or taking part in some group activity. If you have anxieties about specific parts of your life or you find yourself unable to do something only due to anxiety.
Better Blood Pressure
- While you have to watch your weight and exercise without fail, having a dog does provide help with managing your blood pressure. Studies have been conducted to show that pet owners had lower blood pressure and lower resting heart rates than people who didnot have a pet. The effect of having a dog has also been studied in children with high blood pressure which showed that when such children petted their dog, their health improved.
- The effect of a pet on lowering blood pressure is especially useful in stressful situations. One study has even found that adopted shelter dogs can help people with borderline hypertension as spending time with these dogs brought their blood pressure down within five months.
- Pet owners tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than those without pets. These are the first indicators of heart disease in any person. The reason for this could be the active lifestyle that comes with having pets.
- If your cholesterol level tends to shoot up in spite of watching your diet and working out regularly, then a pet dog could prove to be a cholesterol perk.
Help Your Heart
- People with dogs seem to have some benefits when it comes to the heart. One study found that dog owners had a better survival rate one year after a heart attack. Overall, pet owners are less likely to die of any cardiac disease, including heart failure when compared to people who do not own any pet.
Snack Alarm for diabetics
- For people with diabetes, a sudden drop in blood glucose levels can be very serious. Some dogs can alert their owners before their sugar levels drop seriously. Dogs have been found to be able to sense hormonal changes in the human body. Since these changes give off a scent, a dog can pick up on this scent and avert a life-threatening situation. This allows the owner to eat a snack that helps to avoid any emergency. It has been seen for dogs living with people with diabetes, that about one in three such dogs have this ability.
Help with aging issues
- Dog ownership benefits elderly people in many ways.
- Apart from benefiting from companionship, aged persons who walk their dogs regularly tend to have lower body mass index, fewer limitations in daily life, and a higher frequency of exercise.
- Doctor visits are reduced by upto 30% in case of elderly persons over the age of 65 having pets, especially dogs.
- Alzheimer’s patients tend to have fewer outbursts when they have a dog in the home.
- Caregivers of elderly patients report less stress when there is a dog in the family.
- Studies have indicated that babies in homes with dogs are comparatively less likely to have allergies. Children who had a dog at home when they were born, are much less likely to have allergic dermatitis (12% as against 27%) and wheezing (19% as against 36%). The difference in allergy rates can be seen by the third birthday.
You will feel safer
- Dogs can be an effective home security system all by themselves. Studies show that burglars are deterred merely by the presence of barking dogs. A dog can use its keen sense of hearing and smell to detect anyone lurking around. This can help improve your sense of security, which is good for both your mental and physical health.
Overcoming the limitations of ADHD
- When a child with ADHD works with a pet, there can be several benefits. A pet dog helps the child to get used to and practice planning, responsibility, chores and clockwork. Dogs need to play, and the playtime with dogs helps kids to burn off all the unspent energy. A pet dog can also help such children to fall asleep on time. The bonding and unconditional love between the child and his pet can help children with ADHD to develop much-needed self-esteem which can further help improve their condition
Autism: Addressing the Senses
- Sensory issues are common among children suffering from Autism. Dogs as well as horses have both been used to help such children by way of sensory integration activities. Such children usually find it calming to work with pets and therapy animals. Animals are able to hold their attention too. Sensory integration activities help them to get accustomed to the sensations caused by something against their skin, as well as certain smells or sounds.
Relief from Rheumatoid Arthritis
- For persons suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, playing with a dog has several benefits. When you walk your dog or when you play frisbee with your dog, your condition can improve slowly. Time spent with a pet dog can help take your mind off of your condition. But perhaps the best help comes from those dogs that seem to be super-sensitive to people who are not feeling well. Sometimes just their presence can make a person feel better.
Support system for major illnesses
- People suffering from major illnesses like AIDS are prone to be depressed as well due to the social rejection and loneliness. Having a pet allows such perosns to build the attachment and emotional support that they need to be able to survive. It has been found that people with Alzheimer’s have fewer anxious outbursts when there is a pet at home, especially a dog. The pet also helps to reduce the burden on the caregivers.
If you have epilepsy
Once trained, it is possible for dogs to live and work with people suffering from epilepsy. A well-trained dog can bark and alert the adults in the house if an epileptic child suffers a seizure outside or in another room. The dog will lie down next to or on the torso of a person while they are having a seizure so as to prevent the person from injuring himself. It has also been found that well-trained dogs can even warn the family before a seizure happens. This gives the person enough time to lie down or to move away from possible dangers like a burning flame.
- Specially trained dogs can perform tasks that let people with Parkinson’s disease live independently. They can pick up items that get dropped due to trembling hands. They can fetch stuff if asked to. They can provide balance and support. They can open and close doors as well as turn lights on or off with their paws. They can also sense when someone with Parkinson’s freezes. The dog will touch the foot of the person to let them keep walking.
- Therapy dogs can help people who are recovering from severe diseases or even from an event such as stroke. These dogs are trained to understand a wide gamut of commands. Such dogs are of great help for elderly persons or people who have had a stroke and are suffering with Aphasia. Aphasia renders such individuals unable to speak or comprehend speech and it also affects the ability to read or write. The condition can be extremely frustrating for the individual as no one is able to understand them. Hence when a therapy dog is able to understand their gestures and signs, it can be quite reassuring for these persons. Petting, scratching, brushing a dog can help a stroke sufferer to rebuild their fine and motor abilities while recovering from a stroke or other illness. It also provides a sense of calm which helps with recovery.
Dogs may help your kids to be more empathetic
- Studies have indicated that having pets, especially dogs, helps to build emotional bonding and stability in children. It can help children to develop compassion and caring nature. This helps to strengthen the wellbeing of both the child as well as the pet. Studies have found that children with dogs score the highest for pet attachment. Dogs can help children to regulate their emotions better. Dogs can trigger as well as respond to a child’s emotion regulation and behavior. And, of course, only a pet can happily play fetch with a child.
Help with calming hyperactive and aggressive kids
- Studies have also shown that pets can help to calm hyperactive or overly aggressive kids. Of course, this requires consistent training for both the pet and the child so they can conduct themselves appropriately and be friendly with each other.
The benefits of having a dog are many.