Humans can be described as collective beings. There is a reason we make families, have friends and generally develop a social life. To be honest, there are many different reasons to start a family but the most important is that we always want to have people around us that we love and they love us.
But you do not find this mutual love only in people. You can also care for and love a creature that we usually call “man’s best friend” and this will undoubtedly love you as well. Energetic, naive and playful, Dogs are a loyal companion that completely changes the daily lives of the people who put them in their lives and at home.
Raising a dog is not an easy task. In fact, it can be quite difficult and anyone thinking of taking the plunge and getting a dog should think about it and prepare well so that neither of them ever suffers. As Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben said in the first Spiderman in 2002:
” With great Doggo, comes great responsibility”. (“With a big Dog, comes a big Responsibility”)
I may have overdone it and okay, I admit it, he did not say exactly that.
Either way, whether you are a dog owner or a dog volunteer, or you are thinking of becoming one of the two, learn that hanging out with your four-legged friend can do wonders for your health, according to scientists. Here you will find 7 scientific truths that support the above argument.
1. Dogs keep you in good shape
Health experts recommend that adults aged 18 to 64 do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of relaxed aerobic exercise. Dog owners are much more likely to achieve this goal.
Dogs need walks for exercise, training and general stimulation. They like to go out to smell and interact with their environment as well as to socialize with people and dogs outside their home. A recent study by the scientific journal Gerontologist showed that older adults who walked their dogs had lower body mass indexes, went to the doctor less often, and did more relaxed and intense exercise.
I know what you are thinking. Yes, you will lose a few extra pounds while walking your dog. It makes perfect sense because if you think about it, the daily walks with your dog put you in the process of doing relaxed exercise for 10.20 or even 30 minutes at a time.
In 2010, a small survey found that those who lived in public housing and took “borrowed” dogs to walk them 5 times a week, lost an average of 6.5 kg per year. The best part is that the survey participants considered it their duty to the dog, instead of exercising so they did not understand whether they were coping or not.
You must never forget that the dog relies on us for its quality of life. Taking him for a walk every day or at least most days of the week will help him to be balanced, healthy and happy for the rest of his life. Indirectly, however, you also benefit by taking advantage of all these benefits that you will read in this article.
2. Dogs improve your heart health
Your faithful friend not only fills your heart but also makes it stronger. The American Heart Association did some research and concluded that having a dog is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
More specifically, these studies have shown that dog companionship is associated with low blood pressure, low cholesterol and reduced triglycerides that all together contribute to better heart function.
In addition, a 2017 Chinese study showed that the pet has protective properties in patients suffering from coronary heart disease. Other findings show that the longer the pet is owned, the lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
What is even more interesting and clear from statistics but confirmed by the above research, is that people who actually get heart attacks and survive from them usually have a dog. Nobody said that having a dog guarantees 100% that you will not have a heart attack. But the evidence shows that even if you do, your dog’s companion will have helped you build such a strong heart muscle, which gives you a better chance of coping.
3. Dogs help you develop resistance to allergies and germs
In the old days, especially in the 90’s, experts believed that having a dog at home contributed to childhood allergies. Fortunately, recent research has shown the exact opposite. Dogs and cats are up to 33% less likely to have a child allergic to pets, according to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
In addition, a recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics supports the above argument by showing that having a dog has immunotherapeutic benefits and also reduces the risk of other allergies by up to 4 times.
One more thing that needs to be said and clarified is that dogs actually help to fight germs and as a result we get less sick. People today have developed an obsession with the disappearance of germs. If you have ever seen an advertisement for hand soap, you will have noticed that the idea is not to stop until all the germs have died. The truth is that disinfection to such an extent makes us more vulnerable to disease.
The way the immune system works is that our body is home to over 300 species of bacteria and these germs are linked to them. Having them in our body helps our immune system to develop the right defense mechanisms to deal with the respective pathogens. This way we can avoid getting sick.
Luckily for us, dogs are full of such germs and as a result more complex and many different bacteria enter the house. Now you know that your faithful friend not only protects you from potential thieves who come to your home but also from those who are invisible to the naked eye.
4. Dog owners are less likely to get depressed
Dogs offer a relaxing and intimate companion, they have a lot of energy reserves and an insatiable desire to play! For these reasons, it is widely believed that dog owners are less vulnerable to depression than those who do not have a dog.
Research has shown that dog owners are characterized by higher levels of serotonin and dopamine than those who do not have a dog, and that even petting your pet contributes to the secretion of oxytocin, the chemical “I feel good” in the brain.
While there is evidence that certain types of dog owners, such as lonely older women and men with HIV, are less likely to suffer from depression than those who do not have a pet, there is evidence that dogs do not do much in other demographics. I guess the younger you are, the harder it is for you to accept a situation and the deeper self-destructive behavior you have.
There is no need to say much more. Depression is a serious problem that affects more people than you think. I personally do not understand how it is possible to live with a beautiful, cheerful, playful Cocker Spaniel and not be in the mood even in the worst days.
5. You will have a more active life
As we get older, it becomes more and more difficult to go out and meet people. Nightlife gives way to adult, responsible life and our acquaintances are limited to “kids from work”. This is not the case for dog owners.
Researchers have found that about 40% of average adults make friends more easily, probably because the vast majority of them (about 80% according to a British survey) talk to other dog owners when they are out and about. Dog owners become very extroverted over time, as they go out for a walk with their pets, and when you know them they tend to open up a lot!
In addition, dogs can be “used” as a conversation to break the ice at the beginning of the acquaintance and help even the most shy dog owners. The more socially active you are, the more likely you are to develop nice relationships with people who make you happy.
In the even more extreme scenario, your dog can also be the occasion to approach someone or someone you want to become more than just friends.
6. Dog owners have a personal cancer detector
You’ve probably heard of dogs that smell like bombs and drugs in police movies, but it seems that dogs can even smell cancer. Researchers at the Pine Street Foundation in California recently trained five different dogs to smell breast and lung cancer in patients’ breaths. The remarkable result was that the dogs’ diagnoses were 88 to 99% valid, even when the smell was difficult to detect due to other factors such as smoking.
When you first hear about this research, the idea of dogs smelling cancer probably seems to you to be the main topic and, frankly, the most interesting. However, the goal is not for a German Shepherd to enter every doctor’s office. Dogs were simply used to prove the idea: that cancer leaves some kind of chemical signature on the breath.
On the other hand, the reason why dogs from all over the animal kingdom were chosen for the research is because how do you fit an elephant in a laboratory? Either that or because dogs have an excellent sense of smell and can be easily trained to recognize any odor. I can not decide which of the two reasons was. What do you believe?
The conclusion that emerges from this research is that you can take advantage of your dog’s excellent sense of smell and get data on possible serious health problems! If you also speak English, you can say that you have your personal “Dog-tor”!
7. Dogs reduce their owner’s stress
There is one term you may not know, therapeutic dogs. They are well known all over the world and what they do is that they are specially trained dogs that provide affection and a sense of relaxation to people who are in the hospital, nursing homes, schools, etc.
As I have already mentioned, even a few minutes with your pet is enough to reduce your stress and blood pressure and increase serotonin and dopamine levels, 2 neurochemicals that play a big role in our calm and well-being. People who live in stress do better when there is a dog at home and research has shown that dogs reduce tension in both the office and married couples.
Another common reason to have a dog is for the safety of your home. A bark is enough to prevent robberies and other similar situations while at the same time the developed senses of hearing and smell of the dog can detect things that you can not and warn you of possible dangers. Except in these cases, it is a natural instinct for the dog to protect his family and home.
Providing this level of security can be very important for someone who lives in the long run and has lived a lifetime making hypothetical scenarios in which he or she is at risk. And this is not something that strange guys do, but the average person. Stress at school, at work, etc. can lead to doubt and anxiety about more basic things like survival and housing. The human mind works in a way that makes you imagine the worst just to calm yourself down by realizing that they do not concern you.
So even then, when you are worried about the safety of your home, your old dog will be there for you to provide you with all the sense of security you need, to calm you down and help you maintain a good mental and physical health.