There are a lot of reasons that we want pets, but those reasons are usually more like because they're awesome and cute little buddies to have around, and less because they help in improving our health in mind. But whether we realize it or not, owning a dog can have a whole heck of a lot of health benefits for everything from physical to mental health. It's a good lesson in doing what make you happy, because the happiness that we get from dogs is entirely real.
There are probably health benefits from owning all kinds of pets but this time we focused on the dog, which can require a lot more work than other pets, but as you'll see we get the benefits back immediately for committing to that work. Here are some of the awesome (and unexpected) health benefits of owning a dog.
13 They Boost Your Mood
It's pretty obvious that spending time with your dog can be enjoyable, some researchers have found that it only take 15 to 30 minutes of quality time with your furry friend to see significant boosts to your mood. Playing with a pup raises the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain which can increase the feelings of calm and relaxation, as well as pleasure. This research even suggests pets can make you as happy as a companion like your human friends. That explains why you never feel lonely when you're at home snuggling with your dog on Friday night.
12 They Can Help Us With Grief
In addition to boosting the mood in general, having a dog can also help us get through the tough times. Owning a pet provides a sense of purpose that can be helpful when we're going through something tough, because no matter what we're feeling we've still got to get up and handle business. Dogs also provide a feeling of companionship that has been shown to help people get through grieving easier when they lose people in life. We could also assume that having a loving dog by your side is helpful during a break up as well, because no matter what else is happening, that sweet little guy never leaves our side.
11 Better Heart Health
There are a few different reasons why having a dog can help to improve your heart health. For one thing, the simple and sweet act of petting a dog is enough to start lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, both of which are key for keeping your heart working properly. Additionally, some studies have shown that pet owners tend to have lower cholesterol levels which also helps to support heart health. Healthier hearts mean that pet owners are more likely to survive a heart attack if they happen to have one at all. Thanks fido!
10 They Encourage Physical Activity
On your own you might be pretty good at staying active, or you might be pretty terrible at it and stay on the lazy side of things. The good thing about having a dog is that it pretty much forces you to get active since they require exercise. Even if you don't feel like taking your dog for a walk the alternative is way better than watching him get bummed out or bounce off the walls and drive you crazy. Dog owners tend to exercise about 30 minutes more each week than people who don't own dogs. Keep in mind that even when a walk is a quick ten minute one around the block, it still counts towards your fitness.
9 They're The Perfect Wingman
Dogs are pretty much the perfect conversation opener, and they're never going to move in and step on your toes. Pretty much everyone loves dogs and feels comfortable chatting with other people about their dogs. If you have a dog than you already know how much attention they get, and if you don't have one yet you might be shocked by your sudden surge in popularity. Some studies have found that 40 percent of dog owners report making friends more easily from having a dog. When you're a grown up talking to strangers is not a bad thing, it can actually be a pretty great thing.
8 Dogs Reduce Our Stress
One study found that people had lower stress responses to various tasks when they got to see their dog right after...even lower stress responses than when they got to see their spouses. Although that's not an entirely surprising comparison, since dogs rarely cause drama for us, and as much as we love our boyfriends, they're not always entirely stress free. But this does make a pretty good case for why pets are allowed in some work environments. Generally they're not, but at least you always know that they're waiting for you at the end of a crazy work day.
7 Especially At Work
Some of the studies on how dogs affect our stress levels have been done specifically to see how dogs can reduce our stress levels at work, and surprise surprise, they can. When dog owners have their dogs around at work they are more likely to take short frequent breaks which can be a really good way to stay alert and retain focus during the day. It can be hard to take a break when you have endless things to get done, but when you have a dog around who needs to use the bathroom every so often then it becomes a necessity. Plus being able to pet or snuggle with our dog a little just makes the work day better.
6 Better Sleep
In theory, bringing a pet into the home (or into the bed) doesn't sound like it would make you sleep better, if anything it sounds like the exact opposite. After all, animals don't always stick to the same sleep schedule that we do and even if they sleep during the night sometimes they want to be let out early in the morning. However, some studies have found that people actually sleep better when they have pets in the house because they feel more secure. It is true that most dogs are on the alert and would let you know if anything was amiss.
5 They Keep Kids Healthy
Children who grow up around dogs seem to get a lot of health boosts from it. Kids with pet develop fewer allergies and eczema, which probably has to do with being exposed to allergens at a younger age that they learn to develop a resistance to. Kids who grow up with dogs also end up taking fewer sick days than kids who don't, and they tend to grow up with stronger immune systems. There's no point in cursing your parents now for not letting you get that puppy growing up, but it is something to keep in mind when you're at the point of your life where you're having your own children.
4 Dogs Help Us Study Cancer
It turns out that humans and dogs get the same types of cancers, which is pretty sucky, but at the same time it gives us the opportunity to study it more. Of course any kind of testing done with dogs is completely ethical, and when we make progress in treating cancer on one animal it means that we also make progress treating cancer on the other. Additionally, some dogs have the ability to sniff out cancer, meaning that they might be able to detect it in people before they are showing symptoms otherwise. Dogs that have been trained to do this have an accuracy rating of 93 percent.
3 Dogs Can Help With Arthritis
Hopefully you won't have to deal with arthritis for quite some time, if ever, but that's yet another thing that can see improvements when dogs are in the picture. Dogs encourage people to get up and move more, and staying active with low impact activities is a great way to cut down on the pain and stiffness that arthritis causes. If anything, dogs can prove to be a bit of a distraction for people when they are in pain. In general, for anyone suffering from arthritis, going with a smaller dog is a great way to ensure that they're not requiring more physical activity than you can deliver.
2 Dogs Can Detect Low Blood Sugar
Dogs can also be trained to recognize when people have low blood sugar, (or high blood sugar), which is awesome for people who suffer from hypoglycemia. Dogs trained to be Medical Detection Dogs have pretty great accuracy with blood sugar, although researchers aren't entirely sure how they do it. They assume it has something to do with their sense of smell, but however they do it they are pretty good at it. For people with hypoglycemia this can mean fewer trips to the doctor, less loss of consciousness due to blood sugar issues, and cutting down on unnecessary scares.
1 They Just Make You A Better Person
People don't call their dogs fur babies for no reason. Having a pet can teach you a lot of loving and caring for someone else in similar ways to how having a kid can. Sure it's a little different since dogs don't talk and you can't leave kids alone like you can a dog and whatnot...but still the sense of responsibility, commitment, and selflessness, are all necessary in both. There's a big difference between living alone and living alone with a dog, and for many people it's just the thing that's needed to open up their heart a bit. Who couldn't use a little more love in their life.