As if we needed any other reasons to adore our furry friends and loyal companions, it turns out, they are actually good for us! Anyone who owns a dog will know that they give us the warm and fuzzies and they’re more than just wild animals allowed on the couch, they’re members of the family. I myself have a rascal of a Labrador, and while she drives me crazy sometimes, she’s perfect just the way she is (she certainly has character let me tell you and I could write an entire blog on all of the naughty things she’s done over the years!). Let’s jump in to all of the ways that dogs are actually good for our health.
They get us off the couch
While you may have a couch lounging surfer of a dog, every dog needs adequate daily exercise whether they’re a small or large breed. Being outdoors soaking up all of that Vitamin D is beneficial for our bone health, brain and heart health and hormone regulation and being out in the fresh air increases our energy and boosts our immune system. Dog owners walk on average for 74 minutes a day in comparison to non fur baby parents who exercise for just 18 minutes a day! It’s clear to see they’re having a direct effect on how much daily exercise we’re getting.
Meeting new people
When I first had my Labrador as a puppy, it used to take an age to get around our normal walking route because everyone loves a puppy and they all want to stop and say hello! If you already own a dog, you’ll know that if you come across another dog walker it’s highly likely that you’re going to stop and have some dog-related chatter!
I met one of my very good friends while out on a walk on day, after we stopped to chat because we both had puppies the same age and they were both Labradors. For some reason, it’s generally frowned upon for strangers to start up random conversations when passing in the street when you don’t have a dog in tow! So if you’re new to an area and want to get to know some locals, head to the park with your pup and I guarantee you’ll make friends right away.
They can detect cancer
During trials, specially trained dogs, who have been taught to react to its presence, have been able to detect prostate cancer in 93% of cases, however, these tests are in their infancy. If you search Google, you will find numerous articles of our every day canines detecting cancer in their owners with reports of them behaving unusually around them, persistently nudging or sniffing areas which are later diagnosed with cancer. It’s believed that dogs’ acute sense of smell pick up chemicals which are given off by cancer cells which is truly outstanding.
Physical effects on our health
Owning a dog has been proven to reduce our risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure by helping your body release a relaxation hormone and cut down on stress hormone levels when you pet them. By doing this, you will also have a calming effect on your pooch so it’s a win-win situation for both of you, we need them as much as they need us.
Help children read
Children find it encouraging reading out loud when a dog is present and it’s been proven to help them develop literacy skills and confidence as they are perfect listeners. Dogs have a calming effect on many people and will create a relaxing environment (unless you have a nutter of a pup like I do) but children have been noted to enjoy reading to a non critical and non judgemental furry ear. They can practice their speech and reading skills without Fido telling anyone that they messed up.
You can expect that dogs will improve your mood, prevent depression and relieve stress without even doing much more except wag their tails and snuggle on the couch with you. They’re also excellent companions and many people who live on their own find them a huge comfort and in many cases they’ll feel safer when they’re around. My Labrador isn’t much of one for barking, but no matter where she is or who she’s with, she’ll bark if she hears someone knock at the door or open the gate which I’ve always found reassuring (even if she is a massive softie and will jump up with excitement once she realises there’s no threat).
Decrease allergies in children
Exposure to dogs (or cats) in infancy can boost a child’s immune system by altering bacteria within the body and reduce the likelihood of developing allergies like asthma (which they have a 13% lower risk of developing) and many studies have proven this to be the case. While you may think that keeping pets away from children who may develop allergies is the best way to go, the opposite has shown to be true and exposure has many more benefits.
So if you’ve been on the fence about getting a furry companion, don’t hesitate if you want to boost your mood, improve your child’s literacy skills or get you out of the door a bit more. Do make sure that if you are going to bring a dog into your home you must be able to put a lot of time, a lot of love and sometimes a lot of money into their upkeep. Dogs already give us so much, it’s only fair that we give them the same, if not more, in return.