All the walks, clean up, and costs associated with our furry friends can seem overwhelming at times.
Yet, over 69 million dogs are pets these days! They are a part of our family. Our dogs go on vacation with us, they come to work (more and more offices are becoming pet friendly!), and they go for rides.
They rely on us to feed them, walk them, and take regular trips to the vet…but owning a dog is a two-way street! They provide some surprising benefits to our physical and mental health contributing to our overall happiness!
So, can a dog really “make us happier?” We say YES! Here’s why.
Dog owners are more fit
Is your dog really taking YOU for a walk? Dogs are great to combat sedentary lifestyles. A Canadian study show that dog owners walk an average of 300 minutes per week compared to 168 minutes of non-dog owners. So how does this make us feel happier? Exercise releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s necessary for feelings of happiness or pleasure, into the brain. More exercise, more dopamine and more happiness!
Stress relief and relaxation
The very act of petting your dog leads to relaxation and stress reduction! The soft fur and repetitive activity has shown to instantly calm people. Interacting with your dog at the park or your backyard not only takes our mind off of the deadlines and stresses but it releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin in your brain making us feel happier. Even looking at or envisioning our dog can bring a calming effect to a stressful situation!
Dog’s can save our lives and helps to prevent chronic illnesses
Dogs have incredible noses! They are 1 million times more sensitive than our human noses. (Can you imagine how good a steak smells to them?) Some dogs can be trained to sniff out what’s going on inside of us just as they sniff out bombs and drugs. A study by NCBI states, “Training was efficient and cancer identification was accurate; in a matter of weeks, ordinary household dogs with only basic behavioral “puppy training” were trained to accurately distinguish breath samples of lung and breast cancer patients.” Did you know our furry friends can also be trained to act in the case of a seizure or let us know when a food contains an ingredient we are allergic to? Pretty cool.
Dog owners experience less chronic illnesses
Man’s best friend also helps with chronic illnesses! The number one cause of death in the US is heart disease, and dog ownership has shown to not only decrease blood pressure and cholesterol but helps patients heal after heart surgery.
Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety
Traditional pet therapy is taking root in community programs, assisted living facilities and schools because science is screaming that dogs significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue. Every day dog owners reap these benefits as well! Research shows that dog owners of all walks of life are better at handling stressful events, are more social and maintain better relationships with friends and family.
Give your furry BFF a big hug today and say thanks for all the mental and physical health benefits they give us! Instead of playing a video game or watching a TV show, go for a walk with your dog!
Remember, if you are in the market for a dog, adopting a dog from a shelter benefits you, the dog, and the shelter! Help us to save as many dogs as possible by giving one (or two!) a great home!