If you are into unconditional love, devoted friendship, and built-in entertainment. You need a dog! Sorry cat lovers, today August 26th is National Dog Day. We dog lovers know life is better with a dog. We have been studying the bond between dogs and humans since the early 1900s. Most of us don’t need science to justify the connection we have with our canine buddies, but for those who are on the fence, here you go:
- Dogs relieve stress which is good for your heart: Petting or playing with a familiar dog lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and slows breathing. Actually, just being around can decrease your blood pressure. Recent studies have even checked blood stress hormone levels and found they are reduced when a dog is present even for candidates on blood pressure medication. That’s right, dogs are literally good for your heart according to the “American Journal of Cardiology”. They published research about a study of 369 heart attack patients one year after they were released from the hospital. One year later, pet owners had a much higher rate of survival than non-pet owners. The research concluded that the bond between humans and dogs reduces stress, which is a major cause of cardiovascular problems. (1)
- Dogs make us happy: Again, literally just looking at a dog can make you happier. A Japanese study from 2009 found that just staring into your dog’s eyes raises your level of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” We have seen dogs used for therapeutic reasons in Children’s hospitals, with disabled veterans, and even with stressed-out college students.There are also many studies showing that dogs alleviate depression, and this is especially true for older adults. (2)
- Dogs make us more social: What happens when you are out for a walk alone? Chances are you have headphones in or are in your own head thinking. You will most likely give a wave or robotic hello as you pass a neighbor. Not the case when you are with a dog. They are not worried that their greeting will not be reciprocated they aim straight for that neighbor and dare them with all of the unconditional love in the world not to reciprocate. Or, if they are distracted sniffing bunny tracks the neighbor is more likely to stop and comment on the dog. “What a cutie”, “He’s determined to find that rabbit”. Whatever the comment, you are now being more social with that neighbor.
- Dogs encourage us to exercise: According to a recent study dog owners walk on average 22 minutes more per day than those who don’t own dogs.”Not only did we see an increase in exercise, but also the exercise was at a moderate pace,” explains study author Daniel Mills of the University of Lincoln, in the United Kingdom. (3)
- Working dogs who keep us healthy: There are various ways dogs are trained to keep us healthy. This is for both known and unknown conditions. With allergies becoming more sever dogs can be trained to sniff out things like peanuts and gluten. Dogs are also commonly used with autistic children to reduce feelings of isolation and provide comfort to a stressed child. They can also alert diabetics to chemical changes in their blood, and even sniff out prostate cancer. This is in addition to the more common forms of therapy provided by dogs for the blind, those with hearing loss, and those with decreased mobility.
While our fur babies seem sweet and unassuming, regardless of size, there’s a lot of useful power just waiting to be unleashed. If you are feeling encouraged go and adopt a dog on National Dog Day. There are plenty available, and clearly, by helping them you will be helping yourself.
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