Dogs have evolved from being man’s best friend to everyone in the family’s best friend due to their caring and loving nature. Not only can they provide comfort in times of distress, but they can also provoke a good belly laugh when they do something silly. This is why men, women, and kids of all ages consider their K-9 friends to be parts of the family just as they are.
However, did you know that beyond being great friends, there could be some health benefits of owning dogs as well? New studies have uncovered some positive information about the mind boosting and healing powers that precious pups just might provide us with.
How Dogs Can Boost Your Mood
When you’re feeling down or anxious, do you notice your dog give you a little nudge or try to lick your face? This might be due to the fact that dogs are incredibly in tune with the behavior and emotions that humans display. They’re able to recognize body language, voice tone, and even gestures that alert them to you being in an emotional or distressed state.
As a result, your furry friend will try to give you extra love so that your behavior changes as a result. Helping to improve your mood even further is that dogs provide humans with the basic need of being touched. As a result, you may find yourself more soothed and in a better state of mind.
Still feeling stressed out? Play a game with your dog, whether it’s fetch, Frisbee, or any other activity that you both enjoy. Doing so has been shown to elevate levels of dopamine and serotonin in humans, both of which encourage calm and relaxation.
As for those who suffer from depression, a recent study by the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA showed that dog owners less commonly suffer from depression when compared to those without pets. This is likely due to the fact that they provide constant love, a sense of responsibility, companionship, and social interaction, all of which are important for staving off a depressed mood.
If you don’t own a dog or can’t because of where you live, then you’re not out of luck! Volunteering at a shelter is a great way to enjoy the mood-boosting benefits that pups have to offer. What’s even better is the fact that you’ll be making a difference in the lives of so many animals, which can better enhance how you feel.
Have you noticed high stress levels? Just being around playful animals such as dogs and puppies can help reduce them considerably. Studies have shown this is due to the fact that their presence can increase levels of oxytocin, which helps increase happiness and relaxation.
Dogs Used for Therapy
Upon discovering just how beneficial dogs can be for the health of humans, many realized that using them as a form of therapy was incredibly effective. This is why today, more people have therapy dogs than ever before. However, these dogs are unique because they have been highly trained by an obedience trainer. This makes them more responsive to the behaviors of humans. As a result, they are able to provide affection and comfort to their owners when they need it the most and more effectively help them overcome stressful situations. Dogs are now used as therapy pets for men and women of all ages, including those who are recovering from PTSD or other emotional traumas.
When it comes to helping children, dogs are just as great to have around. The CDC even conducted a survey that showed a correlation between lower levels of anxiety in children who had dogs in their household. In fact, only 12% of children who had pups in their homes tested positive for anxiety and stress, while 21% of children without pups in their home tested positive for the same. The reason for this? Experts feel that it’s due to the fact that pets provide a sense of comfort as well as a source of communication. Owning an animal is also linked to having a more calm and happy atmosphere in the home, which is something that can help children reduce their stress levels considerably.
Health Advantages of Owning a Dog
So owning a dog might come with frustrations, such as cleaning up the knocked over vase in the kitchen or helping them learn how to potty train. However, those small grievances can be so worth it when you realize the health and emotional advantages of having them as your pet. Not to mention, who can resist those big eyes when they know they’ve done something wrong? Some incredible health benefits of dog ownership that you may want to learn more about are listed below.
1. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
According to research done by the American Heart Association, owning a dog may help reduce your risk of heart disease. The exact reason is unknown, although researchers it’s believed to owners getting more physical activity from playing with their pet and having a constant companion around for lower stress levels.
2. Reduced Chance of Children Developing Allergies
Research done by a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that having a pet in the home can reduce chances of a child developing pet-related allergies by up to 33%.
3. Reduced Blood Pressure
Studies by the National Institute of Health have shown that dog ownership can contribute to decreased blood pressure in addition to healthier levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
4. Help with Maintaining Weight
While not true of all dog owners, many are able to reduce or maintain their weight because of the physical activity they engage in with their pet.
5. Improved Mood
Owning a dog can help reduce feelings of loneliness, give you a sense of well-being, and help improve your mood even when you’re in a depressed state.
Ready to Play Fetch?
If you’re thinking about becoming a dog owner yourself, it’s certainly easy to see how beneficial it can be. However, make sure you research the responsibilities that come along with this before you make any decisions. By taking the time to recognize what’s to come, such as food costs and potty training requirements, you’ll be able to enjoy your dog and all of the benefits of owning them that much more!
Do you have a dog or a pet? Do you find yourself in a better mood when their around? Share in the comments.