Dogs are loyal, sweet and loving companions who bring a smile to our faces each day just by being there for us. That’s why it’s no surprise to learn that many scientific studies have shown us that dogs really do make us happier each day. Not only does their mere presence reduce our stress levels, but having them around keeps us active and socially connected. Read on to discover how our canine buddies make us happier and healthier.
Dogs Help Reduce Our Stress Levels
If you’re feeling stressed out, you might want to spend a bit of time with your canine companion. According to one 1996 study, performed by Karen Allen, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Millard Fillmore Hospital, people had lower stress levels in the presence of a dog than in the presence of their spouse or a friend. The participants were given stressful activities, like public speaking or putting their hand in ice and when a friendly pooch was around, their blood pressure and heart rate were lowest around a dog.
Other studies have shown that petting a dog and even reading to a dog helps people feel calmer and less anxious. This is why dogs make such great therapy animals. Because the less stress we feel, the happier we are.
Dogs Increase Feel-Good Chemicals in the Brain
Our brains produce several types of chemicals that help us feel happy, kind and motivated. These chemicals include oxytocin, prolactin and serotonin. Unsurprisingly, our brains tend to produce more of these chemicals when we’re with our pooches than usual, which explains why we feel so good around them. This phenomenon was examined in a study published in the 2012 edition of Frontiers in Psychology, which determined that feel-good chemicals like oxytocin are produced in our brains when our dogs are around, helping to keep us feeling happier, less stressed and less anxious.
Another study conducted in 2004 by Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., associate director of the Center for Animal Wellness, Missouri University College of Veterinary Medicine showed that when we spend time interacting with our dogs, our oxytocin, serotonin and prolactin levels go up, making us feel happy and relaxed. Simply playing or cuddling with our furry friends causes our bodies to produce these happiness chemicals. Humans also showed lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, after spending time with their pups.
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Dogs Keep Us More Active
Owning a dog means taking that pooch out for regular walks and play sessions. Not only are these sessions good for Fido, but they’re good for you too. Regular exercise and physical activity leads to the release of endorphins in the body. Those endorphins then react in your brain to help reduce feelings of pain and increase feelings of euphoria.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health showed that 60 percent of dog owners walked them regularly, getting an average of about 160 minutes per week of physical activity. Not only does that exercise make you healthier, but it makes you happier too because it helps your body produce happiness-inducing endorphins.
Dogs Help Us Stay Connected Socially
When you’re walking your dog, and bringing him to the dog park, you probably interact with other people. In fact, studies have shown that dog owners are more socially active than non-owners.
A 2014 article, published in Animal Frontiers by Alan Beck, Sc.D., director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, found that dogs not only help encourage social interaction with other humans, but their mere presence provides us with social interaction on a daily basis. That interaction with our dogs keeps us healthier and happier.
Plus, having a dog around may help out your love life. Dog owners are more attractive to potential mates than those who don’t own a dog, according to a 2015 study published in Antrozoos. So, having your furry Casanova around may help you find your significant other, which should make you pretty happy.
Survey Says – Dogs Really Do Make Us Happier
It seems that dog owners are happier than non-owners. A 2016 survey, whose results were published in Anthrozoos, asked people questions about their mental well-being and how satisfied they are with their lives. The survey found that dog owners were more satisfied with their lives and generally happier people than those who didn’t own a dog.
So, if you want to boost your mood, being around dogs is the way to go. To hang around some of the coolest pooches around, become a dog walker or dog sitter with GoFetch today to be just as happy as you can be.