Written by: Cally Worden
Owning a dog is one of the most rewarding responsibilities you can take on. These lovable, loyal, furry creatures can bring such joy into your world. From the moment your first dog joins your family you will wonder how you ever lived without one. And the benefits go far beyond the general sense of happiness that this snuggly warm creature brings into your world. Being a dog owner has a positive impact on your overall health and well-being. Here’s why.
While dogs can trigger an allergy in some people, children growing up with a dog have been shown to suffer from fewer allergies throughout their lives. This is thought to be the result of the young body developing a resistance to allergic reactions as a way of coping with early exposure to common allergens such as animal hair and tiny mites that live on our favourite furry friends.
Boosted Immune System
It may sound off-putting, but dogs are actually covered in germs. Homes with dogs have a greater level and variety of bacteria present than those without. Believe it or not this is a good thing. Advertisers would have us believe that unless our houses are sanitised and disinfected to the max we will suffer dire consequences. In fact, all that this uber-cleanliness achieves is a false protection of our immune systems from microscopic bugs that ultimately weakens its defences. A lack of exposure to a variety of germs can leave individuals more susceptible to illness. Conversely, the immune systems of those people living with dogs have learnt to cope with more bugs, making us less vulnerable to illness.
We all know that dogs have sensitive snouts. But there is compelling scientific evidence to suggest that dogs’ noses may be very adept at sniffing out the presence of cancer in some humans. A number of high profile cases in the media prompted some proper scientific research, which backed-up these individual claims. There are now some very special pooches around the world who are specifically trained to detect the presence of cancer in people.
It has been known for a while that the simple act of petting a dog can lower blood pressure and slow down your heart rate. A study conducted in China proved that dog owners also sleep better and are less frequently ill. Even more research suggests that owning a dog can result in lower cholesterol levels and make you more likely to survive if you suffer a heart attack.
Dogs demand exercise and there is no escaping the fact that as a responsible dog owner you will need to get active. Walking and playing with your dog each day means you are more likely to achieve the recommended daily 20-30 minutes of exercise you need to keep you healthy.
Savvy businesses are clueing into the fact that a dog in the workplace can lower stress levels among employees. This is because workers take time out to pet a dog and fit in breaks throughout the working day during which they play with and exercise their pet. These simple actions have been shown to improve employee productivity. Maybe it’s time for a chat with the boss?
It is a proven fact that having a dog in your life reduces the risk of depression and can actively elevate the mood those who are feeling low or depressed. A dog can, in some cases, be even more effective than medication at achieving this. Those clever scientists have found that even simply looking at a dog can increase levels of the feel-good chemical oxytocin in the brain.
Of course, taking on a dog is also a big responsibility, and not one to be taken lightly. But if you are wondering if a dog could be the right pet for you then these health and well-being benefits may just help influence your decision. And for those of us who already have a furry bundle in our lives, these points make us smile, and act as a happy reminder of why we love our pets so much.