20/08/20
Fact: Dog make us happier and healthier

It's a commonly accepted idea and has been proven over many recent studies, that there are physical and mental health benefits that come with owning and caring for our dogs. 

According to Rebecca Johnson, PhD, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine  “There are lots of studies showing that pets are good for our health.”

Here are a few of our favourite reasons why dogs make us happier and healthier

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They provide the best companionship.

Dogs provide us with unconditional love. They make us happy and are always there to keep us company. They are social beings and so are we! When we come home, they are always happy to see us, even if we have just been out for five minutes. When we are sick or sad, they just know and will stay by our side. Studies have actually found that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. People with limited human social supports often experience feelings of loneliness and isolation, both of which can worsen depression. A dog helps to decrease these feelings by providing companionship to its owner.

They can help to reduce Stress and Anxiety.

The companionship of a dog can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for people anxious about going out into the world. Studies have shown that simply petting a dog can raise levels of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, three chemicals in your brain that help you to feel calmer and more relaxed.

Taking your dog for a walk has also been found to help reduce stress. And just patting your dog can lower your blood pressure, according to a study done at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, and dog owners have been shown to have lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels as well. But this could also be from all that walking since exercise is the best way to lower cholesterol. 

They take the focus off us and make us take care for them.

Dogs require a regular feeding and exercise schedule. No matter what mood we are in, we still have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for our dogs. Caring for a living animal can help make us feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from our problems. Owning a dog can help teach your children about responsibility, spread the chores around and make them get involved. Plus, studies have found pet owners over the age of 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets. How amazing is that?! 

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They encourage us to exercise more.

People with dogs are forced to get out of the house and go for a walk more often than people without dogs. Which is also great for those of us looking to lose a few extra kilos! According to the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine” the average duration of a walk per week for dog owners in the study was close to 300 minutes while those without dogs only walked for 168 minutes per week.

They help us meet new people.

Having a dog can also help to improve a person’s social interactions with people by acting as a social catalyst and conversation starter. Dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks, in dog parks, in pet stores and in training classes. In fact, a study found that a person walking with a dog had three times as many social interactions then when they walked alone. The dogshare community is another incredible way that you can meet people through dog ownership. 

They are great at cheering up the sick and the elderly.

Therapy dogs are used more and more these days to visit old aged facilities, many hospitals and sick children. They help to calm them down, lower blood pressure and help to put a smile of their faces.

So all in all dogs really are just the best. They make us happier and healthier and just provide the best companionship.

In saying all of this, owning a dog is definitely not for everyone. Please do your research. Do not rush the decision. They can be costly and take up a lot of your time. If you are thinking about getting a dog, please make sure you choose the right dog for you and your lifestyle. And if you just can’t own a dog right now, but you would love the benefits a dog can bring, join up to our dogshare community and become a helper!

Mel xox

Mel Ritterman is a qualified dog trainer and mum-of-three. You can find more information about Mel on her website Cooper and Kids or follow her on Instagram or Facebook. 

Disclaimer: Dogshare and Mel Ritterman will not be liable for anything that happens to you or your dog by following our advice and tips. If you have real concerns or worries about your dog, please seek out a professional vet or behaviourist to come and assess the situation.

Sources

Beetz, A., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Julius, H., & Kotrschal, K. (2012). Psychosocial and psychophysiological effects of human-animal interactions: the possible role of oxytocin. Frontiers in psychology, 3. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00234

Brown, C.M., McConnell, A.R., Martin, C.E., Shoda, T.M., & Stayton, L.E. (2011).  Friend with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6), 1239-1252. doi: 10.1037/a0024506 

Johnson, TD. (2011). Pets can be a prescription for happier, healthier life. The Nation’s Health, American Public Health Association, 40 (10) 32.