Author: Ashley Maxwell
No doubt about it: Pets, especially dogs, make people feel good. And you may be surprised at just how they can do wonders for your overall health and wellbeing too!
Protective, loyal, and always happy to see you. Dogs truly make life more awesome!
There are just so many health benefits to being a pet parent and we’ve only included a few here. Dogs can even be your snack alarm for people with diabetes, meaning they can detect low or high blood sugar levels and will prompt you to treat your blood sugar. Or that dog ownership can help you sleep more efficiently.
The Healing Power of Dogs: Proven Health Benefits of Dogs
1. Helps you lose weight
Want to shed that extra pound? Grab your dog and get hoofing. Studies have repeatedly found that daily walks with your dog help you lose weight because they force you into a physical activity even if it’s just 10 to 30 minutes at a time.
In 2019, a study published in Scientific Reports shows that dog owners are more likely to meet the current physical activity guidelines of at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity than those individuals without a dog.
And when it comes to losing weight, using a fitness scale is incredibly important to help you track your progress.
2. Improves your social skills
People who walk their dogs are seen by others as approachable and friendly.
One study explains that 4 in 5 pet owners speak with other pet owners during their walks. When they begin to engage with other people about their companion animal, they would share stories, and naturally, people also tend to open up.
Research likewise shows pet parents have stronger romantic relationships than those non-pet owners or that they have greater overall relational investment, partner responsiveness, and relationship quality.
Their dog may provide pet owners the opportunity to practice their empathic abilities, which is an important ability to maintain positive relationships.
3. Reduces your stress and anxiety
The relationships that we create with dogs (well, at least in the chemical aspect) are not that different from those we create with humans.
When we cuddle our dog, oxytocin is naturally released from our brain into the blood. Yes, that same chemical that’s been linked to positive emotional states. And that love hormone promotes feelings of generosity and trust.
A CDC study in 2015 even shows that kids who have pet dogs in their homes were less likely to test positive for an anxiety test. Moreover, it has been found that people doing stressful tasks do better when there’s a pet around and dogs ease tension between married couples and at the office.
4. Boosts your mood, makes you laugh more
When a person is less stressed after spending even just a few minutes with their dog, their body goes through physical changes that make a difference in their mood. The stress hormone and level of cortisol are lower.
As a result, the feel-good chemical in the body rises. When you exercise or go out on a walk with your dog, that too substantially eases depression and boosts your mood.
Another study in the journal Society & Animals also found that individuals who own a dog laugh more.
Did you also know that the presence of a pet can help facilitate a discussion between patients and human counselors or that they simply offer emotional release? This is according to the director of therapy animal program Pet Partner, Rachel Wright, as published by The National Geographic.
To some people, the idea of sending a canine to a grieving individual may be too simple, but that very simplicity is the reason why the connection between canines and humans is so powerful.
That is because when other people give us affection, sometimes it’s a complicated thing that involves judgments or expectations. With a dog, it’s nonchallenging, uncomplicated, and has no consequences. Dogs don’t judge you but show unconditional love.
5. Helps manage your blood pressure
You still have to exercise and eat a healthy diet, but having a dog at home can help control your high blood pressure. In a study involving 240 married couples, those who own a pet at home had lower heart rates and lower blood pressure during rest compared to people without pets at home.
6. Makes your heart stronger
Your four-legged friend doesn’t just fill your heart, they also make it stronger! A scientific statement from the American Heart Association explains that owning a dog may reduce cardiovascular risk.
They linked their conclusion to the many beneficial effects of pet ownership, including:
- favorable lipid profiles (good level of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol),
- reduced sympathetic responses to stress,
- improved autonomic tone (or autonomic nervous system that is a major determinant of cardiovascular health),
- Improved survival after experiencing an acute coronary syndrome, and
- Lower systemic blood pressure.
7. Adds meaning and purpose to your life
Dogs do more than just boost our well-being. They also give us meaning and purpose to get up in the morning!
And having a purpose gives us that sense of achievement and well-being. Since there is that well-defined route that we can follow into our future. Because of it, we live life in a meaningful way.
Studies have likewise suggested that having a meaning in life or a greater sense of purpose is associated with better mental and physical health.
Retirement, death of a loved one, or redundancy are life-changing events that could interrupt the natural flow of a meaningful life. Yet, those who share their life with a dog can testify that their canine counterpart helps them remember that life must go on.
As people also grow older, it may be difficult to find meaning and structure day in and day out. However, dogs help the elderly not just focus on their needs but give them the reason to wake up because they have to take care of their canine friend.
So, if you’re ready to welcome a four-legged friend at home and into your heart, you can visit pet shelters near you and you’ll be surprised to find mixed-breed or purebred animals alike waiting for you!