Health Benefits of Owning a Dog
Let’s talk about those cute, furry, energetic, slobbery, bouncy, lovable dogs of ours.
Whether their big or small, long hair or short hair, young or old they will improve your physical health, mental health, and immunity!
Dogs will get you moving if you are in the mood for it or not! Going for walks, playing tug-a-war, running, you name it; your dog will be your BEST personal trainer! Have you noticed that dogs always have a smile on their face when you’re playing with them? Dogs will push you without you even realizing that you are working harder. Anytime we are active, we are improving so many aspects of our physical health. According to the CDC, our heart gets stronger, blood pressure improves, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels lower.
It’s quite remarkable how all the aspects of our life improve with dog ownership. Sometimes it happens without us even realizing it. From my own personal experience, my dogs are my mental health booster! There is nothing better than coming home to a smiling dog waiting for me at the door. Whether it’s been a bad day or an incredible day, just seeing my dogs wagging their tails, looking up at me with huge slobbery smiles, melts all the stress away. The Harvard Medical School published an article in 2015 that said playing with and petting dogs actually releases a hormonal response in our bodies. We release a stress reducing hormone called oxytocin while our cortisol (stress hormone) levels decrease! Dogs also provide unconditional love and a sense of purpose. They’ll lick your tears away without any judgement and simply love you. Dogs also help to improve our social life and outside exposure. It’s hard to feel lonely when you’ve got a pup yapping at you, asking to play. Without realizing it, they’ve pushed you outside and are helping you break the negative cycle that you may have unintentionally created.
The well known quote, “If you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas” should be reworded to “When you lie down with dogs, your immunity gets stronger!”. Now I’m sure some people will absolutely scoff at the thought of letting their dogs jump up in bed with them but be patient with me. In a 2012 study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers showed that infants who had contact with dogs in the home had 31 percent fewer respiratory tract illnesses and infections, 44 percent fewer ear infections, and 29 percent fewer antibiotic prescriptions than kids with no contact with dogs. Still not sold? The New York Times published an article in 2017 about dogs being the new probiotic: “According to the so-called hygiene hypothesis, spending over 90 percent of our time in the bacteria-poor environment indoors, as we do (especially early in life, when our immune systems are being formed), can cause our bodies to overreact to harmless substances later on, making us sick”. If you’re still skeptical about letting your dogs hop into bed with you that’s ok! Just allowing a dog into your home will increase the beneficial microbes that make YOU stronger.
So let’s recap- dogs improve your physical health by getting you moving which improves heart health and makes you stronger. They provide a massive amount of mental health support by loving us unconditionally, pushing us out of our comfort zones, and improving our social life. Lastely, the slobbery things improve our immunity! So next time you see your waggly friend give them an extra play, pat, or cuddle as they are improving your overall being!!
Contributing Authors: Kaleaida, Mae & Moki
Fact: Scientists believe that the major source of people’s positive reactions to pets comes from oxytocin, a hormone whose many functions include stimulating social bonding, relaxation and trust as well as easing stress.
Awareness Challenge this week: Join us on Saturday, March 9th at 4pm for a rejuvenating session of Cat Yoga at Farmington Regional Animal Shelter!
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Dogs are miracles with paws!