We all know that feeling we get when we see a puppy and most of us have felt the warmth that coming home to a loving pet brings. Dogs are always happy to see us again regardless of whether we were gone for hours or mere minutes. While this may seem like simple emotion to many, it turns out that there are many benefits that we humans derive from having a dog in our lives.
1) Dogs Are Great Company
It’s no accident that dogs are often called “man’s best friend.” Many people view their dogs as family members, without baggage; they provide unconditional love and easy companionship. In fact, many of us have a sense of emotional connection with our dogs – a notion that some science supports. The bottom line is that our dogs make for great company and our lives are enriched by their presence.
It seems that our dogs have a unique ability to sense our feelings of loneliness, depression, and pain. Not only can they detect these emotions in their humans, but they also show a unique capacity to empathize with us.
2) Dogs Reduce Stress
In the midst of the pandemic, stress levels have increased for all of us. There is a concern for our health and the health of our loved ones, there is increased work-life stress for many, and for some, there is the added stress of home-schooling their children. In addition, we are often unable to engage in our usual stress-reducing activities like going to the gym or the bar.
Once again, our canine companions come to the rescue. Studies have shown that in stressful situations, the presence of a dog lowers stress and anxiety. It has been shown that petting or playing with a dog increases the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decreases the production of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol.
3) Dogs Make Us Better People
If you grew up with a dog in the family you are generally more empathetic and more compassionate toward others. It turns out that caring for a dog (or other pet ) as a child helps promote compassion and empathy later in life.
In addition, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, attachment to pets is associated with a higher quality of life in adolescents. They go on to state that: “There is [also] growing evidence that pet ownership and attachment to pets have a range of positive psychological, emotional, and physiological health outcomes for children and adults. These include a lower risk of depression, better quality of life, a greater sense of well-being, reduced psychological and physical distress, and reduced loneliness.”.
4) Dogs Make Us Healthier
Obviously, reduced stress, lower risk of depression, and a greater sense of well-being all contribute to better health, but the health benefits of dog ownership go well beyond psychological well-being. Multiple studies have found that having a dog in your life improves our physical health as well.
One study showed that dog owners lived longer than non-dog owners and they made fewer trips to the doctor. According to pubmed.gov shows that multiple studies have shown that dog owners have significantly lower heart rates, arterial pressure, and systolic blood pressure, all of which are associated with better cardiovascular health.
Bottom-line: Dogs Make Life Better
The bottom line is that dog owners generally live happier, healthier, and less stressful lives. Plus, they get to regularly look into those loving puppy eyes and are always greeted enthusiastically when they arrive home.