‘We are going to buy one for the children’… one of the most popular quotes and arguments to get a dog in house. The effects of your new roommate exceed that of a simple fun to watch and have animal. A dog will have a very positive effect on the general well-being and health of all those living together with this always happy tail-wagger. Did you know a dog makes you happier than ever before? Did you know he even makes you healthier and makes you live longer? Having a dog is fun…but having a dog is so and much more…Having a dog means a long list of positive effects on your mental and physical health!
The effect on your mental health and well-being
Petting and hugging a dog will release oxytocin, the so-called love hormone. It is probably no surprise this love hormone will give you that seventh heaven feeling. It will significantly lower your stress level and it will relax your body and soul. Another positive effect of having your dog close to you, is the fact that oxytocin is also lowering your blood pressure and heart rate, which on their turn have a positive effect on the heart- and blood vessels.
Concerning your mental health, it has been proven that dogs make people less anxious, lonely and depressed. Caring for an animal will give you much satisfaction and will boost your self-confidence. People suffering from chronic disease will forget time and will more often forget their symptoms, sufferings and pains when enjoying the company of their dog. A dog will put a smile on your face, will bring structure in your life and will take away your depressed and negative feelings. Yes indeed, dogs are real mental health boosters and will improve your overall well-being.
The effect on your physical health
Besides aforementioned mental health benefits, dogs also have a positive effect on your physical health. A more active life is one of the most important physical health benefits. We probably do not have to tell you a daily walk with the dog has a long list of physical health benefits. By walking your dog, you will easily reach your ‘recommended by doctors, experts and scientists’ 10.000 steps a day.
Children who grow up with a dog will have less chance of annoying diseases like asthma and allergies. So far there have been tens of researches and studies confirming what was once a belief. One of the largest studies on human microbiome took place at the University of San Diego Knight Lab. The researchers discovered between 500 and 1000 species of microbes living in the human gut. These microbes play an important role in our immune system and metabolism. Since microbiome is affected by external factors too, dogs were proven to play an important role in the diversity of bacteria living inside human beings. The research concluded that children living with a dog since a young age have a more diverse group of microbes in their gut allowing their immune system to be stronger and to distinguish between good and bad bacteria more easily. Dogs bring a diversity of external bacteria in the home and to the children, which significantly decreases the chance on for example asthma and other allergies.
Children with ADHD or autism, on the other hand, will benefit from the structure, peace and calm, which goes hand in glove with taking care of a dog. They will not only benefit from the daily routine which is so typical when having a dog (making food, going for a walk,…) but they will also benefit from the interaction with the dog and it will help them to tackle obstacles in their life and to increase their self-confidence.
Various researches show dog owners have lower cholesterol levels. And lower cholesterol levels automatically mean less chance to develop heart and blood vessel diseases. Trained dogs can even use their sixth sense to pro-actively detect weather blood sugar levels are lowering or to predict an upcoming epilepsy seizure. This sixth sense will also help them to feel your emotions like fear, allowing them to support you whenever and wherever needed by for example protecting in case of danger.
A dog will boost your social life
Having a dog will bring joy into your house and your family. When you go out for a walk it will also help to boost your social life. You will more often have chitchat with another dog owner. Dogs attract people and people are attracted to dogs.
Dogs are without doubt sociable animals, which see us as friends and companions if treated well. They love to be cuddled, love to play and love to be just around when we are willing to give them some attention. No wonder they are true bringers of unconditional love. Their daily happiness and joy tend to produce positive emotional responses. It is this always happy behavior that makes dogs the perfect aid in psychological therapies and that makes them provide love, support and comfort to people who need it.
Did you know…
- A Swedish research has proven dog owners to live longer than people not having a dog.
- Dogs have a sixth sense allowing them to sense a change in the blood sugar level of someone. They can help people to inform them of a lowered blood sugar level pro-actively.
- Petting a dog not relaxes only the animal (their heart rate will drastically decrease) but also the person who is doing it to the dog.
- Research shows that children from families having a dog are less often sick. Children with dogs stayed on average three weeks longer in school than children not having a dog; a significant difference.
- A dog is a man’s best friend and even triggers the release of some love hormones. Indeed, petting a dog and gazing in the eyes of a dog releases oxytocin which is also known as the love hormone. It is not only released for the person petting the dog but also for the dog itself.
- Dogs can smell your feelings. Because a dog can smell about 100.000 times better than his or her human owner, they can feel emotions like fear and can, therefore, react to it if required. In case of fear a dog can protect you!
- Dogs are getting trained to detect several diseases, like cancer, in humans. Once again, just like with emotions, the dog can sense cancer cells and metabolic waste products.
A dog a day keeps the doctor away