10 Scientifically-Backed Benefits of Having a Dog in Your Life
There’s no doubt that our dogs make our lives better. We feel their love and their companionship every day, but does science support why we need dogs in our lives? Absolutely! Science teaches us to never underestimate the power of our pups to improve our lives!
From our mental health to our physical health, being a dog parent has a wide range of benefits. In fact, dog parents are 33% less likely to die prematurely. These benefits aren’t just for adults, either. Dogs teach children responsibility, compassion, and social skills.
And you don’t have to take our word for it, these ten benefits are back by scientific studies!
1. Dogs Help Us Stay In-Shape
How often do you find yourself being pulled away from sitting in front of the computer or television by your dog who is ready for a walk? Well, your dog may need to use the bathroom or is ready for a bit of cardio, but your pup is also helping you stay healthy and physically active!
According to a study in the Journal of Physical Activity of Health:
Dog owners walk their dogs an average of 160 minutes per week which drastically improves dog owners’ overall fitness level compared to non-dog owners.
2. Social Interactions Can Be Difficult But Not So Much so With a Dog!
Do you tend to gravitate to befriending other dog parents? Whether you’re at the dog park or you’re saying “hi” to your neighbors, your dog is increasing your interactions with others.
A survey of 2,700 people in American and Australian cities shows that dog owners use their dogs to meet their neighbors, and that dog parents are:
60% more likely than non-pet owners to get to know people in their neighborhoods.
So, leash up your pup and enjoy your ticket to new friends around town.
3. Dogs Reduce Our Anxiety
Anxiety can be debilitating for those suffering from it. Luckily, many people can find relief when their dog wags away their anxiety.
A 2009 study of men and women showed that every participant that joined in activities with dogs found relief from their anxiety. This is why many elderly care facilities and hospitals look for therapy dogs to spend some time with their residents and patients.
4. Owning a Dog Can Strengthen Your Heart
We’re sure your dog fills your heart with joy and bliss on a daily basis, but did you know your furry friend is also improving your heart health?
Various studies demonstrate that dog owners show a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.
Dog parents also have lower cholesterol and triglycerides. While the reasons are unknown, most scientists speculate that this is because our dogs have a calming effect on us through petting.
Not only do pet owners statistically have better heart health, but they also survive heart attacks more frequently, according to The American Journal of Cardiology.
So snuggle your pup extra tight tonight to say “thank you” for keeping your heart healthy and your blood pressure low.
5. Dogs Help Children Feel More Confident
Adopting a dog will help teach your kids responsibility, but adding a dog to the family can improve your child’s social skills and confidence, too.
It’s common for children to suffer from insecurities and social anxiety. It’s estimated that 90% of kids with special learning needs and 40% of children in the general population have trouble socializing due to insecurity.
When some of these children spent time with a do, though, their confidence improved and they socialized more easily with their peers, according to a scientific study performed in 2012.
6. Slim Down with Your Dog
When it comes to exercise, it turns out your dog is a natural personal trainer. A study from Michigan State University supports that dog owners are more likely to reach their exercise goals and maintain a physically fitter body condition.
And the study shows that larger dogs receive longer walks, suggesting their owners get the added benefit of more exercise and calorie burning.
7. Dogs are a Natural Anti-Depressant
Side effects of depression can be difficult to handle. From insomnia to lethargy, depression can lower a person’s quality of life and make day-to-day activities seem impossible. Dogs can make coping with depression easier, though.
Study after study demonstrates that dogs reduce the effects of depression and improve a person’s mental health.
Just playing with dogs has been shown to increase oxytocin and dopamine, creating positive feelings and bonding for both the person and their dog.
8. Dogs Reduce Allergies for Kiddos
Growing up with a dog can help children say “farewell” to allergies! While many moms cringe when they see their little ones getting licked by dogs, science shows that interaction between children and canines can lead to a reduction in the development of allergies.
One study that followed children from birth to age three whose parents suffered from allergies or asthma. This study concluded a significant reduction in allergies and asthma for kids who lived in a home with a dog!
So, embrace those dog kisses and breathe easy tonight with your pup.
9. Dogs Can Help Children Improve their Literacy Abilities
Believe it or not, dogs help children who struggle to read improve their literacy skills.
A study published in the Frontiers in Veterinary Science shows third-graders improved their reading skills after spending time reading to dogs. Children read passages before and after spending some time with a pup, and they read more fluently after some doggie-quality time. There were no results as to whether or not the dogs enjoyed story time, but we would guess the dogs had as much fun as the kids.
10. A Dog Kiss Per Day Keeps the Doctor Away
While you may not love that your dog tracks in mud, you may feel more forgiving after you learn that dogs improve their owners’ immune systems.
Dogs expose us to 56 different forms of bacteria in our homes.
I know what you’re thinking: “Ew!” Well, this exposure actually helps your body with beneficial bacteria and its ability to fight illnesses like the common cold.
Aren’t we lucky to have an army of canine companions keeping us healthy, happy, and going on adventure after adventure? As more and more dogs learn to sniff out cancer and shine a light on diseases like Alzheimer’s, we can only imagine how they will continue to make our lives amazing day after day.