Three Surprising Health Benefits of Owning A Dog
Dogs undoubtedly bring an enormous amount of joy to people’s lives and are considered a family member by many but did you know your beloved four-legged friend is supporting your mental health and wellbeing on a physiological, mental and emotional level too?
The obvious health benefits of owning a dog are widely claimed by most dog owners. Our furry friends help us to move our bodies and get out walking every day, no matter the weather, whilst the companionship and unconditional love given by our canine friends is invaluable. But these benefits go a lot deeper than just your daily dose of fresh air and the love you feel for your dog. This week, I uncovered three surprising ways your dog helps keep your wellbeing in check.
Dogs Can Help Us To Stress Less
A fascinating study carried out by Buffalo University in 2013 found that dog owners had less of a physical response to stress than non-pet owners, over a 6 months study.
The research claimed: “People with pets had significantly lower resting baseline heart rates and blood pressure, significantly smaller increases in heart rate and blood pressure in response to stress, and faster recovery of these parameters to baseline after cessation of stress”.
What was also interesting about this research was that the study claimed that the reactivity to stress was lowest and recovery fastest in participants tested with their pets present. A good enough excuse, as any, to persuade your boss to allow dogs in the office perhaps.
Dogs Can Help Lower Anxiety and Depression
Stroking and petting our dogs can help satisfy the human need for touch, something that helps us feel calm, safe, loved and keep feeling of loneliness at bay. It has been proven that physical touch with our pets helps to elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which is responsible for helping us feel calm, relaxed whilst lowering feelings of anxiety and depression.
According to scientist Meg Olmert cuddling your dog can even trigger a release of oxytocin, helping owners bond with their pets and increase an association with loving and compassionate feelings more widely.
I know when I stroke my dog and he lets out a huge sigh of relaxation, I smile and feel just that little bit more relaxed too (as my heart melts a little in my chest).
Dogs Give Us Someone To Talk To
Chicago university professor, Nicolas Epley claims that talking to your pet (like they are human) shows signs of high intelligence and creativity.
I am the guiltiest of chatting away to my little dog as if he can understand me but it’s not just our one-way conversations with our dogs that can boost our sense of wellbeing and connection.
I was out on a dog walk the other afternoon when I got chatting to an elderly lady. We made small talk about the recent snowfall and how naughty our little terrier cross-breed dogs were. When we came to say goodbye, she said ‘thank you, it meant a lot to chat today’. She said it in a way that brought tears to my eyes as we walked our separate ways.
The companionship provided by our dogs themselves is so nurturing but it is also the social aspect of dog ownership too that can help keep our wellbeing in balance.
So why not say hello when you’re out on your walk, it might just make someone’s day.