Since the dawn of time there has been the greatest debate known to humankind: dogs vs. cats. While we don’t discredit the value of cats and how adorable their little toe beans are, we’re here to talk about how great dogs are. Dog owner health is proven to be greater than those with cats, and even greater than those without any pets at all. So, if you are looking for an excuse to get a dog, this is it. You’ll be healthier! Also, check out our blog on how dogs help people with anxiety, for more information on how dog owner health is improved with the help of dogs.
Dog owner health and immune system is stronger
When I was a child, my parents didn’t mind if I ate dirt or didn’t wash my hands all the time (to a certain extent), knowing that my immune system would get stronger if I was exposed to germs. Allowing your body to be exposed to foreign germs may sound gross, but it gives your body a chance to build up strength and immunity to potentially dangerous bugs. People who are constantly disinfecting and hand sanitizing actually end up getting sick more often than those who believe in the 5 second rule. Dog owner health and immune systems are stronger because dogs bring in a world of foreign germs and bacteria that will strengthen your body’s ability to fight off illnesses.
Dog owners are less likely to have allergies, asthma, and eczema
Dogs and their dander can go one of two ways: either you are incredibly allergic to them, or they are the reason that you don’t have allergies. Studies have shown that growing up in a house with a dog makes you less likely to develop allergies throughout the course of your lifetime. You don’t even need to be born yet to take advantage of this fun fact. Babies in utero whose mothers have a dog (or are exposed to a dog) are less likely to have allergies than those who avoid dogs whilst preggo.
Dog owner health is better when suffering from chronic disease
Pet a dog; your heart rate and blood pressure will decrease. Have a heart attack? Make sure you have a dog with you as part of your health action plan; the National Institutes of Health found that dog owners have a better survival rate one year after having a heart attack. Further, male dog owners are less likely to develop heart disease and high cholesterol.
Extra bonus of having a dog: they can often detect cancer in humans! Starting anecdotally, and now scientifically, this is a new piece of information to add to dog owner health improvements. Dog owners may experience their dogs sniffing, licking, and nudging lumps and bumps until their owners go to the doctor.
Also, one study suggests that people who pet dogs after undergoing surgery need 50% less pain medication, which is amazing.
Dog owner’s health and physical activity levels increase.
A study from the University of Virginia shows that families with dogs are more likely to promote physical activity within the household. This means that children and teens with dogs are more likely to be physically active than families sans doggie. This is hugely important with the rising rates of childhood obesity; having a dog will motive kids to get active with their pet and overall benefit their health and wellness!
Also, dog owners in general, are more likely to reach their fitness goals than those without dogs. Even beyond just taking their dog out for walks on a daily basis, people with dogs are more likely to have active leisure time and sport related hobbies. Furthermore, when people are walking dogs, they are also walking faster than those without dogs. So, overall, having a dog will get you more active and physically healthier than your counterparts without dogs.
Having a dog can lead to a more active social life
Dog owner health increases in relation to having a more active social life; having a dog provides the same emotional benefit as that of human friendship. Furthermore, having and taking care of dogs can help people suffering from depression and anxiety, by giving them a reason and purpose to get out of bed and have to take care of their pet.
Also, polls have shown that people trust strangers with dogs more than their dog-less counterparts. People are more likely to engage in conversation with strangers if they have dogs; this can help ease people with social anxiety or shyness out of their social isolation and engage with strangers. Oftentimes conversations start around the dog, asking what the breed is, how old the dog is, or the dogs name. Sometimes conversations will stay at dog-level, however a lot of time they will become a real social exchange. So screw online dating, just go hangout at dog parks!
Dogs lower stress at work
More and more companies are realizing the benefits of having dogs in the office; thank goodness it is catching on. Studies show that people who are in the presence of a dog at work (whether petting them, having them sit on their lap, or just in the office) have lower stress levels throughout the day. On the flip side, in offices without dogs, employees will have overall higher stress levels over time. Furthermore, having a dog in the office will give people an excuse to take a break and either pet, play, lay with, or take the dog for a walk. Some may argue that would reduce productivity; small breaks will actually make employees more energized when they return to their desk! Overall, having dogs in offices increases job satisfaction, productivity, and overall health of employees. Now go show this to your boss, I’ll wait.
Dog owner health is significantly better for seniors
Just like therapy dogs are brought in to universities to help reduce students stress and anxiety during exam time, therapy dogs in senior homes has similar benefits. Research suggests that having a dog around people with dementia has a beneficial effect on improving social behaviour and minimizing stress and agitation. These dogs have shown to decrease Alzheimer’s patients anxious outbursts, as well. Furthermore, these dogs help seniors stay active and distracts them from their pain and feelings of loneliness; caregivers also see the benefit of having dogs in the homes, having less of a burden on themselves.
Finally, as we now know, walking and caring for pets provides owners with exercise and companionship. But! Did you know that there are actually insurance companies that, as part of their medical screening, will ask potential clients over the age of 75 if they have a pet? If they do, they won’t have to pay as much for health insurance; dog owner health is that much better than those without.
Dog owner health: summary
So, now you know all the amazing health benefits that dog owners are privy to; you may find yourself thinking: “well, heck, now I need a dog!” and you are right. But, have no fear, you can have the benefit of having a dog without the commitment of having a dog; sign up for GoFetch and become a dog walker and sitter. Whether your goal is to improve your mental or physical health— walking dogs is a great first step.
Dogs are amazing creatures that have been a blessing to humans. They are amazing for our mental and physical health; we need to do everything in our power to protect them from the dangers of the world.