Are you considering adding the patter of tiny paws to your family. Or perhaps looking to adopt an older dog but are still unsure? Well, we’re here to give you 3 awesome pawsome reasons to get a dog!
Dogs not only have the ability to make us healthier and happier, they also provide us with more opportunity for social interactions helping to prevent loneliness and boost our confidence.
Dogs improve our Physical Health
Did you know
That if you share your life with a dog, you are less likely to suffer from ill health? Studies have found that dog owners have lower blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than their non dog owning counterparts.
In addition, the British Journal of Health (2004) reported that dog owners have fewer heart attacks and less medical problems than those without dogs.
Because owning a dog motivates us to exercise, dog owners are less likely to be obese. Walking on average an hour longer than non dog owners according to the Journal of Physical Activity and Health (2010)
Owning a dog is also good for your children. In a 2011 study published by the Journal of Paediatrics, it found that children who lived with a dog were less likely to develop eczema. In addition, kids who enjoy the company of dogs tend to develop fewer allergies and take fewer sick days than those who live in a dog free household.
If we do experience ill health, dogs can also help us recover faster. In a study of people that had experienced heart attacks, dog owners were over eight per cent more likely to still be alive one year after suffering their heart attack than those people who didn’t own a dog.
It’s well know that pets can help with a wide range of both physical and mental health problems. Visits from pets are linked with a reduction in pain, anxiety and depression and research is still ongoing in areas such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and cancer recovery.
Smokers are 28 per cent more likely to give up if they own a pet. The effects of second-hand smoke on their pet’s health acts as a strong motivator to quit.
Dogs improve our Mental Health
Did you know
Studies show that having a pet can make us happier. Dog owners laugh more than either cat owners or people without pets according to a study published in Society and Animals (although we all enjoy a funny cat video from time to time!).
Sharing your life with a dog can help reduce stress. Spending time with a dog can increase the neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. Both of these have been found to increase feelings of happiness.
Stroking a dog also increases your levels of Oxytocin, commonly known as the ‘love’ hormone. It increases social bonding and makes us feel connected. The good news is that dogs get this feeling too, so it’s a mutually rewarding experience.
Research has shown that dogs can help reduce stress in Alzheimer’s patients and decrease their aggressive behaviour.
Not only that but a report by the Israel Institute of Technology supports the benefit of using dogs in therapy for people with challenging mental conditions such as schizophrenia.
Owning a dog helps us feel less lonely and more connected.
Dogs provide structure and routine to our day. Both dogs and people benefit from routine. This can be particularly relevant when we get older and no longer have the structure to our day that full-time employment provides.
Caring for a dog gives us a reason to get up in the morning (sometimes with a loving, but insistent wet nose!). This can help us focus on something other than ourselves. They give us a sense of purpose.
Dogs encourage us to play. Having fun and taking time out to play is an important, but sometimes overlooked aspect of our lives. Play can help increase both our physical and mental health, as well as our dogs.
Dogs improve our social health
Did you know
That studies have shown that having a dog can increase a child’s self esteem.
The British Medical Journal states that dogs act as ‘social catalysts’. With a study by Warwick University finding that forty per cent of people who owned a dog found making friends much easier than without one.
Having a dog can make us feel less isolated. They can often help us connect with people in our neighbourhood.
Pet owners report that they have higher self-esteem and feel they have more purpose than their non pet owning counterparts.
Dogs teach us responsibility. This is especially useful for children who learn that the needs of others are as important as their own.
Dogs can help build confidence in children that have learning or literacy difficulties. Having a non-judgemental listener can boost confidence and develop social skills.
In a study published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Science, it was found that there was a direct correlation between young adults who had strong attachments to pets and how connected they felt in their relationships. The more attached to an animal they were as a teenager, the more confident and empathetic they were in their relationships.
Dogs are also being introduced into prisons with great effect. This has several benefits, one on hand, shelter dogs are being trained so that they have a better chance of being re-homed. On the other, the inmates are learning important social skills and gaining confidence in their own ability to change.
Health, happiness and confidence: 3 reasons to get a dog
If you aren’t convinced by our pawsome reasons to get a dog, why not talk to friends that already share their life with a dog and get their experiences of sharing their life with a four legged friend.
Despite all the benefits of owning a dog, it’s a big commitment. Make sure that you are in a position to spend the next 10-15 years of looking after your canine companion.
Do your research and be honest about your lifestyle. Will a dog fit in, or will you have to make major sacrifices that may become problematic in the future?
If you are confident that you are ready to get a dog then hoorah! Dogs enrich our lives in so many ways and really are great for our physical, mental and social health.