We have every reason to love our pooches. They’re snuggly, they love us unconditionally, and they provide us with warmth and companionship. But did you know how dogs are great for your health overall as well?
It’s true! There are many research studies in place that directly link dogs with better physical and mental health, as well as a multitude of documented secondary effects and different blogs discussing dogs and wellness too.
Here are some of the most direct effects of having a dog on your health.
Blood Pressure Management
By now, multiple studies are in place that show the effects of having dogs on the owner’s blood pressure. A study conducted in 2002 affirmed that participants who had dogs as pets had a lower baseline heart rate and mean blood pressure than participants who didn’t have dogs.
There was also a difference made here between dog owners who had pet dogs and those who had working dogs or outside guard dogs. Which shows that interaction and companionship from dogs were more effective than simply owning them.
During the study, all the participants were made to undergo an ‘exertion’, by having to solve a mathematical problem. The group of dog owners showed a small change in their blood pressures and heart rates after having solved the task, when compared to the non owners, whose blood pressures and heart rates spiked higher. Plus, their average rate of error was also lower.
Additional tests also showed how dog owners have overall lower stress levels when compared to non-dog owners. Stroking a pet has been shown to directly decrease the blood pressure to physiologically normal levels. In fact, when a pet owner has their dog in the room, it has a stronger effect on lowering their blood pressure than taking ACE inhibitors, which are a popular blood pressure regulation medication.
Of course, every dog owner will attest to their canine bestie having a calming effect on them when they are stressed. But the science behind it is so very solid, too.
Destress with Pets
One can almost argue that every pet dog is a therapy animal. To their owners, pets are the loving companion that helps take the stress off after a long day or a particular trying time, or just generally.
But this isn’t just a feeling; there are many studies confirming this. For example, dogs have been directly linked to reducing stress in individuals, sometimes more so than support systems like family or friends provide us.
The reason behind this is postulated to be that with our loved ones, there are often other relationship dynamics that sometimes don’t benefit us as much as with dogs.
With dogs, you rarely have to ruminate over whether they misinterpreted what you said, or canceled an appointment because they were offended. With dogs, it’s just… easier.
Not to mention, there’s also social benefits to having dogs. Dog owners are widely accepted as more approachable, more responsible, and more reliable individuals. Having a dog by your side makes social interactions easier, as well as opens you up to communication with people more often- should you want it.
Older Dog Owners
A group of dog owners who benefit extra from having dogs is senior citizens. Not only has having a dog been proved to hugely reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness than senior citizens often have, but it also helps to keep them mentally and physically fitter, when they interact with their dogs all day long.
This isn’t just a psychological boost, but also a physical one. Dog owners take their dogs out on walks, or to play, and have to put in physical effort into their dogs’ upkeep. This increases daily physical activity levels on a baseline, and also keeps them more alert.
People with mental health issues, older dog owners, and even children profit vastly from having this kind of structure to their lives. When you have to do it for your pooch, you’ll definitely do it for their happy faces!
And let’s not forget the effect on our immune systems. Research has confirmed that dog owners and especially children developed better immune systems, with a dog in their immediate vicinity. Obviously that applies more to individuals who are not allergic, but even then, hypoallergenic dogs are always an option.