Though the list of benefits for dog owners is endless, here are the top 10 health benefits of being a dog owner
1. Happier state of mind
Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than non-pet owners. A study published in 2011 followed 167 pet owners and 50 non-pet owners and measured their levels of happiness, depression and well-being. The survey found that pet owners, particularly dog owners, felt less depressed and less lonely. That conclusion is consistent with common belief that the routine of keeping the dog healthy and happy makes it harder to stay inside and feel unhappy. Studies have shown that even just looking at your pet releases the ‘feel good’ hormone, Oxytocin. Just stare into the picture above, you’ll see.
2. Prevents allergies for children
It has been well established that a child’s risk of developing allergies or asthma is reduced when they are exposed to a dog in the household. Researchers at UCSF used mouse models to discover how this exposure works. Prior to being challenged with protein allergens and cockroaches, the mice were exposed to dust from homes with dogs. The researchers found that exposing mice to dust from homes with dogs can reshape the community of “good” microbes that live in the mouse’s gut and reduce the inflammation when exposed to allergens.
3. They can tell when you have low blood sugar
Did you know that there are service dogs trained to alert their owners in advance of low (hypoglycemia) or high (hyperglycemia) blood sugar levels before they become dangerous? These dogs are trained to smell a chemical odor caused by chemical reactions that result in high and low blood sugar levels that is undetectable by humans. Service diabetic dogs can add an additional level of security for protecting your loved ones in addition to giving you unconditional love.
4. Your heart’s best friend
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America but a study found that dog owners are less likely to suffer from heart diseases. The American Heart Association (AHA) reviewed decades of reports and conducted further studies. “Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may be reasonable for reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.”
5. Live longer than other pet and non-pet owners
A panel of experts from the AHA weighed in on the decades of evidence of the effect of dogs on the owner’s health. Their verdict: having a pet, particularly a dog, lowers the risk of heart disease.
“People who have dogs live longer than people who have cats, and the assumption has been that dogs naturally cause their owners to be more active,” suggests Dr. Lee, a cardiologist and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Though the researchers believe that the above statement is true, they weren’t able to rule out whether healthier people were likelier to own dogs. Either way, a win for dog owners.
6. Cancer Detection!
Dogs can detect cancer. As a matter of fact, a company, InSitu Foundation, is researching how to train a team of dogs to detect cancer. It is mentioned to have a team of 5 dogs to detect various types of cancer. It should come as no surprise that some dogs have over 300 million nose receptors compared to a human’s 5 million but also, the part of the brain that analyzes the scents is over 40% larger as well. What can’t they smell?
7. They can help you during seizures
People have trained service dogs to help the over 2 million people with epilepsy in America. These dogs are trained to activate an emergency response system, stimulate “wake up” after a seizure, act as a crutch to pick someone up and to retrieve medication or a phone. These miraculous dogs have been deployed to help children with disabilities.
8. Stave off depression
Though there’s evidence that certain dog owners, including isolated elderly women and HIV-positive men, suffer less from depression than those without pets but there’s also proof that dogs don’t help for all demographics. However, many organizations on college campuses bring in dogs and puppies to help ease the stress of finals, an activity that is appreciated by the students.
9. They reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
Pet owners have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels than their non-pet owning counterparts. This in turn leads to a healthier heart. Dog owners are more likely to engage in more physical activity with a dog and lead to a healthier lifestyle.
10. Reduce doctor visits
Those that are over 65 and own a pet are 30% less likely to seek medical help than those without. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology established that animal-owning seniors on Medicare “reported fewer doctor contacts over the 1-year period than respondents who did not own pets.” The authors of that study also included, “Owners of dogs, in particular, were buffered from the impact of stressful life events on physician utilization.”