What are the advantages of owning a dog?
As well as the more obvious attractions of having an adorable bundle of fluff about the house, dog ownership has been scientifically proven to have numerous health benefits! Dogs encourage us to exercise and get out more, as well as generally improving our well-being. After all, who can resist those puppy dog eyes pleading to go for a walk? This has been documented by Deborah L. Wells of the School of Psychology, Queens University, Belfast, in ‘The Effects of Animals on Human Health and Well-Being’ which concluded:
“This particular companion animal can contribute to a significant degree to our well-being and quality of lives.”
Is owning a dog good for your health?
Owning a dog has been scientifically proven to be good for your health. A Swedish study of 3.4 million people titled ‘Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death’ concludes:
“In a nationwide population based study with 12 years of follow-up, we show that dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death in the general population.”
Does having a dog make you happier?
Patting, stroking and walking dogs can help people to feel more relaxed and less anxious. This makes a huge difference to emotional and physical well-being. Dogs also have a huge capacity for unconditional love which can’t fail to make their owners feel happier! No matter how bad your day has been, your dog will always greet you with a waggy tail and a non-judgemental attitude, making you feel so much better.
Those caring for a dog are also less likely to be socially isolated, research suggests. ‘The Pet Factor – Companion Animals as a Conduit for Getting to Know People, Friendship Formation and Social Support‘, states that, ‘companion animals can be a catalyst for several dimensions of human social relationships in neighbourhood settings, ranging from incidental social interaction and getting to know people, through to formation of friendships.’
Spending time with a dog has also been linked to a happy and healthy childhood, really enhancing family life. Caring for a pet can encourage children to develop empathy, confidence and responsibility but those aren’t the only benefits! Scientific studies indicate that having a dog in the home can reduce the risk of developing certain allergic diseases and help with immune development.
Do dogs lower blood pressure?
A release of the hormone oxytocin is triggered when you stroke a dog, particularly if you look into their eyes. This surge of oxytocin can lower blood pressure, ward off depression and boost immunity. A study in the journal “Science” has shown that looking a dog in the eye can boost levels of oxytocin (the hormone which helps mothers and babies to bond) for both human and canine.
Dogs also help to reduce blood pressure by making us more active. Perhaps you love walking but are you as keen to get outdoors when it’s wet or cold? There is no greater motivator or personal trainer than a dog who’s eager to go for a walk! Research from St. Andrews University shows that dog owners were 12% more physically active than people who did not own a dog.
Is there another way to receive the health benefits of owning a dog?
It’s undeniable that life is just better with a dog! Dogs make us laugh and smile with their undeniable lust for life and tendency to play the clown. They also improve our general health and well-being in so many ways. For some people though, owning a dog may just not be possible. Making the full time commitment that dog ownership requires can be just too much emotionally, financially or logistically.
Barking Mad offers an alternative to dog ownership, where you can experience all the benefits without the full time responsibility. Host families become companions for dogs whose owners are on holiday. Dogs stay at a time to suit their hosts with all the administration, insurance and costs taken care of. If you feel that you would benefit from having a dog to stay occasionally, you can learn more about becoming a Barking Mad host here.
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