10 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Owning A Dog

Just how beneficial is it to have a pet dog?

Becoming a dog owner is not a decision that should be taken lightly. There is a fair amount of responsibility to take into consideration, such as having enough space, affording the upkeep, and not to mention having enough quality time to spare.

We had two small children when the subject of getting a dog was brought up. I remember wondering if we could afford it and if we could give him the time he needed. After a long conversation, we concluded that we could because more than anything we had an abundance of love to share. 

While there is a lot to think about, there is also a lot to gain. Here are some scientifically proven benefits to owning a dog that might just surprise you. 

1. Having a Dog Can Reduce Your Stress Levels

It has been a tough day at work and all you want to do is go home and relax. Your dog, however, has other plans but with one look into those big brown eyes, you can’t help but smile and find yourself reaching happily for their lead.

dogs help reduce stress
image source: pexels

I often felt this way after a long day at work, but my excitable pooch would always manage to bring a smile to my face. So full of love and happiness, I couldn't help but feel the same, and in return that would help me feel more relaxed. 

Several studies show that having a canine companion can help to reduce your stress levels. One study talks about how dogs can be used as a form of therapy within hospital settings or nursing homes as a way of helping to lower blood pressure and therefore reduce stress levels in patients. 

2. Dogs Make Our Hearts Happy

The way a dog chases its tail can be somewhat amusing, and the way they instinctively know you’re on your way home can bring a warm feeling to your heart. Many times I would come home to find my dog already sat at the door waiting for me.

dogs make us happy
source: pexels

While dogs not only help to reduce stress, keep us fit, and make us more social, but they also help to keep our hearts healthy. A study that investigated how owning a dog impacted heart diseases, risk factors, and overall heart health found that being a dog owner is scientifically beneficial for keeping your heart healthy. 

Whether it's through exercise or just plain and simply making us smile and laugh that we get a healthy heart, either way having a dog is beneficial to the overall health of our hearts and that can only be a good thing, right? 

3. Being a Dog Owner Can Help to Boost Your Immunity 

In today’s society, we have become obsessed with handwashing and sanitizing ensuring our cleanliness is to a high standard. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t always a good thing, in particular for dog owners. The slobbering tongue of your canine friend could well be just what your immune system needs to give it a boost in fighting bacteria.

dogs help boost immunity
image source: pexels

As Edward Lane discusses in his article, the saliva from your dog could in fact protect you from illnesses and even help combat allergens such as pollen.

Being a young child of seven I would often fall and graze my knees or my arms, and all too often my mum or my Nana would tell me to get the dog to lick it clean! To my surprise, it did actually feel better. 

So, the next time Grandma tells you to let the dog lick the graze on your knee or the cut on your finger, you might not feel so repulsed by it. 

4. Having a Canine Companion Can Help to Combat Feelings of Loneliness

Loneliness is a feeling that has become all too normal in the wake of Covid-19, particularly in the older generation. With people self-isolating or working all the hours as key workers, those who are unable to work find themselves alone more often than not. With no one to talk to or even to just be there it can really have an impact on your mental health, more so if you're used to having someone there.

dogs won't let you feel lonely at all
image source: pexels

Although your pet may not be able to answer you back, speaking to them can definitely help. I tell my dog all sorts and sometimes I can sense that he understands me, or at least my mood. There are also times I appreciate that he can't understand what I'm saying but it's good to just get it out. Even just a cuddle from him can make me feel better and less alone when those feelings arise. 

While there is controversy over whether or not owning a pet does in fact help diminish the feeling of being lonely, there are studies that have proven it to be true which have been discussed in a journal article written by Lauren Powell and Emmanuel Stamatakis.

Here they talk about a study that had been conducted between groups of new pet owners, potential pet owners, and non-pet owners. Their findings showed that within three months the new pet owners’ feelings of loneliness were significantly reduced in comparison to the other two groups. 

5. Dogs Help to Improve Cognitive Function 

As well as helping with mental health issues such as anxiety, evidence shows that dogs can aid in memory recall and the sequencing of events, particularly in patients who have suffered head trauma or are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.

Having a relative who suffers from dementia, seeing the illness take hold can be devastating, not just for us watching but also for the person who is suffering as it can be very confusing for them. The presence of a dog can briefly take that away.

dogs help improve cognition
image source: pexels

Confusion is replaced with smiles and happiness which is then followed by a brief recognition of who they have stood before them. Maybe having a dog around just helps to focus their minds in a different direction rather than concentrating on struggling to remember things. 

Using animals as therapy in place of medication is becoming all the more popular with increasingly more research taking place. So, for anyone who may be suffering, it may well be that all they need is a bit of canine companionship. 

6. Canines Can Help Us to Cope With Crisis 

Unfortunately, there are times in our lives when things happen which test our coping strategies, such as illnesses, accidents, or even death. People find their own ways of coping, sometimes without knowing what they want or what can help them.

When I lost my sister a few years ago, I couldn't speak to anyone, I couldn't listen to music, all I wanted was to be alone. My dog was the only one I would have in my room. Maybe it was because he didn't speak, didn't ask me questions, and didn't try to do things to make me feel better that I let him in.

dogs help us to cope with crisis
image source: pexels

Or maybe it was the way he would instinctively know that I wasn't myself so he would just place himself in my lap or gently lick my face. There was no expectation from me and that was all I needed. It's never easy dealing with such things, but he helped me. 

Finding ways of dealing with these tragedies is something that we continuously seek. In her article, Sally Nazari discusses how animals naturally help when it comes to dealing with any crisis as they bring unconditional love and friendship that helps us release the hormone Oxytocin.

It is this hormone that controls chemical reactions within our bodies that are triggered by stressful situations, so the more Oxytocin is produced, the better we feel. 

7. Dogs Have a Nose For Detecting Cancer

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell which can be useful in many different situations, such as in the police force or for hunting purposes. However, several studies suggest that dogs can detect cancer by smelling their owner’s breath. With training, many dogs can go on to recognize different types of cancers or even other types of illnesses such as diabetes.

dogs smell cancer
image source: barkpost

8. Dating is Easier When You Have a Dog

Yes, you read that right. Dogs can in fact help you when it comes to the world of dating. While it may be common knowledge that when you walk your dog people are more likely to say hello, there are studies to show that women were more drawn to those who had pets than not.

dating is easier when you have a dog
image source: pexels

There are also personality traits that your pet can pick up on in your new love interest that may sway your decision. If your dog is growling and barking every time they see your other half as opposed to slobbering all over them, this may make you think differently about that person.

One study found that 82% of people felt that they would have more confidence starting a conversation with someone that they liked if they had their dog with them rather than if they were alone. I've heard many people say that when someone speaks to them in the street if they have a dog they feel more comfortable than if they don't and are much more likely to respond. 

9. The Responsibility of a Dog Helps Create Empathy 

From a young age, we learn to pick up on social cues and how to react in any given situation. Often this comes from other people around us and we tend to follow suit. However, at a young age, we have the ability to adapt much more quickly than when we are older as we are more impressionable.

dogs make you empathetic
image source: pexels

The presence of a dog can help to shape us in that sense too, for example, teaching us how to share, whether it be toys or food. Not being selfish with a dog means we are less likely to be selfish as we grow up. It's the thought and responsibility for another living thing. 

Research suggests that growing up with a dog can help a child become more empathetic as they form strong bonds with their pets often classing them as a part of their family. This connection not only helps to create empathy but also builds up their self-esteem which encourages better human interactions. 

10. Dog's Contribute to the Longevity of Life

It makes sense that with everything mentioned above, the longevity of life as a result of becoming a dog owner can significantly increase, as proven by studies confirming that owning a dog led to less risk of death by 21%. Lower stress, a healthier heart, and a reduced feeling of loneliness all contribute to life’s longevity as well as to our mental health and well-being.

Dogs help you live longer

In conclusion, getting a dog is a natural way to improve not only the length of life but also the quality of life, particularly for those already facing certain struggles. With so many health and well-being benefits, what is it that’s stopping you from getting this extremely valuable lifetime companion? 

An all round creative with an appreciation for nature and life.

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