Pets are some of life’s greatest joys. Most pet owners agree that having a companion, no matter what kind of animal (domestic, wild, or even farm animals), has made their lives infinitely better. Dogs are one of the top, if not the very top, choices for domestic animals. Dogs are devoted, loving, and a constant source of entertainment. However, not many are aware that pet ownership actually comes with a myriad of physical health and mental health benefits.
Not only do dogs make humans feel less alone, but it has also been scientifically proven that human-animal interactions can improve a person’s overall health and wellbeing. More recent studies have also begun to explore the benefits of owning a dog or other animals as pets. Not only that but pets have also evolved to become more attuned to human behavior and emotions, making them great companions in the absence of other humans.
The Health Benefits of Owning a Dog
Whether you already own companion animals or thinking about getting a four-legged friend, you may be surprised to learn that having a puppy is not just all about having enthusiastic licks and cuddles when you get home, although that part is also very important, as many pet lovers will agree.
Many research suggests that the mere presence of dogs can already be beneficial to your wellbeing, though you might not notice it. They can be social support animals but they are also great to be around when you are alone. Dog owners sometimes attest that their canine babies can understand what they’re feeling and saying. Among these benefits are a dozen others. Check them out below.
Dogs help you stay physically active
Pets survive longer when they are healthy and well taken care of. No matter your dog’s breed or lineage, strengthening their immune system with exercise will help not only them but also you to stay healthy. Owning a dog means consistent exercise.
Even if the exercise you do isn’t strenuous, as these are not recommended for lap dogs or small pets, the physical activity can still be enough to get you and your pup’s hearts pumping. Long walks around your neighborhood, the dog park, nature trails, and even mountain hikes are adventures you can take on with your best furry friend.
Dogs can make you feel happy and less lonely
Having at least one pet animal in your household if you live alone can leave you feeling less lonely. Owning a pet means your pup can offer unconditional love, warm cuddles, emotional support, and even read your body language to know exactly what it is you need from them.
The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute found that 85% of the responders in their survey felt less loneliness thanks to their beloved dog. This was supported by a small Australian study that discovered that dog owners have reduced loneliness compared to non-dog owners thanks to their human-animal interactions.
Dogs can help reduce stress and anxiety
Although many might see dog ownership as a stressful endeavor because of the maintenance and attention dogs need, multiple studies show that dogs can help alleviate the stress and anxiety of their owner, and many dog owners would agree.
This is why therapy dogs and pets are now dispatched on university campuses and students are encouraged to pet them or even just spend a few minutes in their presence. During stressful situations, therapy dogs can also help their owners remain calm and grounded, enough to stop or momentarily stave off anxiety or panic attacks.
Dogs can help boost cardiovascular health
Did you know that your dog can help prevent heart disease? A study found that there are heart health benefits from human and canine companion interactions. Your bond with your best pal reduces stress, one of the leading causes of major cardiovascular problems.
Physical activity with your pets can also lower blood pressure levels, control cholesterol levels, and lower triglyceride levels. A survey also stated that older adults have a 33% higher chance of surviving a cardiac event when recovering with a canine companion or service dog at home. While these studies are still being developed, a lot of them agree with one another.
Dogs can help make you look more appealing to others
If you always take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood, the park, or even bring them with you on errands, you’re likely to get a few more smiles. Some even stop to ask about your little companion. A dog’s appearance is more likely to make you appear more likable, trustworthy, and attractive to the general public.
This is because many people believe that dog lovers are happier, kinder, and generally wholesome people. A study even found that people are more likely to “match” with individuals in dating apps who have dogs or pet animals on their profile photos.
Dogs are great companions for senior citizens and PWDs
Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a study and found that military veterans suffering from PTSD greatly benefit physiologically and psychologically when they have their own service dogs. Another study found that dogs are great and helpful companions to aging individuals (even in nursing homes) and those who are differently-abled.
Pet therapy can improve cognitive function, decrease agitated behavior, lower blood pressure, fewer anxious outbursts, less stress for the patients and caretakers, and improve these special needs individuals’ social life.
Dogs can increase your serotonin levels and social interactions
Not only can your animal friend or pets help lower blood pressure and decrease stress levels, but they also raise serotonin or the “happy hormone” and oxytocin or the “love hormone” that you need. People who have emotional support dogs are more confident to socialize and interact with other humans, as compared to non-pet owners.
The unconditional love you may feel from your dog can also make you feel happier, more loved, and overall give you a sense of security. Owning a dog means giving and receiving patience, love, and lots of cuddles. All positive things to make you happier in life.
Being a Dog Owner is a Lifetime Commitment
Despite all the health benefits, it is important to remember that owning a dog, or any other animal for that matter, is a lifelong commitment. From the moment you take them in, you are responsible for them, as they cannot be responsible to feed, bathe, or look after themselves when they are sick. You will need to understand them apart from loving them and taking care of them. Understand their needs and provide for them as best as you can as a fur parent.
This will cost money, time, and energy. If you severely lack in any or all of these three areas, you might want to rethink getting a companion animal or pet. Domesticated animals require a lot of attention and responsibility. Some people even liken it to having human children. Canines, in particular, can be destructive, throw tantrums, be picky eaters, have weakened immune systems, or come with other complications.
You will need a lot of patience and kindness if you want to lessen the stress, both for yourself and for your new friends. Pets tend to have shorter life spans compared to their owners as well unless you own a sea turtle who can age up to centuries. Dogs typically live for 8 to 15 years, depending on their breed, health status,
How to Find the Perfect Pet
If you’ve decided that owning a puppy is right for you, then congratulations. You are about to open your home and your life to another family member. Owning pets requires proper preparations to make the start of your relationship as easy and with as few health risks as possible, especially if it’s a newborn puppy. Owning a dog is also extremely rewarding but only if you are willing to put in the hard work of raising them. It is important to, first and foremost, find out what the perfect pet is for you.
Bigger pets require bigger spaces while smaller pets require small but clean spaces. This is one of the first things to consider, apart from talking to other members of your household about getting said pet. Owning a pet also means working around your schedule to spend as much time with them as possible, especially if you are getting a dog.
Other pets also require attention but perhaps not as much as dogs. Owning a pet also means considering your income, if you will be able to provide good quality dog food, monthly or annual shots, and vet visits. In essence, pet ownership and owning animals don’t just stop at giving them space in your house to sleep or play around.
It also means devoting your time and effort to making sure they are living their best lives. As much as they make you happy, always strive to return the favor. Having domestic animals around can affect your health for the better so make sure you keep your beloved furry friends healthy as well.
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