Being a dog owner isn’t just fun; numerous studies have revealed that they can also be good for your health. Don’t believe us? Read on to discover some impressive ways in which your prized pooch can keep you in tip top condition.
Boost Your Immune System
A famous study by Dr James Gern of the University of Wisconsin-Madison looked at the immune systems of new-born children in order to see how they could be affected by interactions with furry pets. Dr Gern split his test group into two halves; half of which lived in a pet-free environment and half of which owned at least one cat or dog. He then examined the immune systems of children at birth and then again a year later to see if there were any noticeable differences between the two groups.
While many parents are scrupulous about hygiene for their child, furry pets like cats and dogs are far from being surgically clean at all times. They run around the garden and the countryside, they interact with wildlife, roll on the floor and then bring all these potential infections home with them. Furthermore, most cats and dogs shed their hair persistently so almost every pet-owning home will contain far more microbes than pet-free homes.
The question is really whether all these potential pathogens are having any kind of effect on your children’s immune system; and if so whether this a good thing or not.
As it turns out, the research suggests that access to these pathogens may actually be a good thing. It seems that in children that have grown up around dogs are far less likely to show evidence of pet-related allergies. Somehow being in the presence of a pet enables even an infant’s immune system to quickly build up a resistance to infection.
Reduce Common Lifelong Ailments
This spike in immune system activity as a result of being in a dog-owning home isn’t just good for pet-related allergies. Research has also shown that this same resistance can reduce the instances of both asthma and eczema in children.
Both these conditions can become lifelong afflictions that can have a serious impact on one’s quality and life and physical abilities. Astonishing, then, that simply having a dog in the home as your children grow up can have such a beneficial effect on the immune system – and in turn the likelihood of your child being affected by these two unpleasant conditions.
Lower Blood Pressure
In another fascinating experiment, high powered stock brokers working in one of the most high pressure environments possible – where they’re often responsible for making or losing millions of pounds each day – were offered the chance to adopt a cat or dog. During the experiment, the stock brokers were subjected to health checks to see if pet ownership had any effect on their body’s response to stress.
As it turns out, the stock brokers with regular access to a loving pet experienced far lower blood pressure and fewer feelings of anxiety. It seems that contact with pets can stimulate the release of oxytocin, a stress-reducing hormone. This is turn leads to a greater feeling of calmness and emotional bonding, rapidly reducing levels of stress within the body.
We all know that dogs need to be walked regularly to be happy and healthy. What you might not have considered is that this very same exercise can be beneficial for you too.
Studies have shown that dog walkers naturally get more exercise than the general population and as a result are far less likely to be negatively affected by obesity. In general, the study found that dog owners were 34% more likely to get the recommended amount of weekly exercise than those without dogs.
The connection you build with your pet doesn’t just have a powerful effect on your physical well-being. Surprisingly it can also affect your mental health too.
Studies have shown that terminally ill patients are far less likely to suffer from depression if they own a dog. Other doctors have found that patients frequently recover from surgery far quicker when they are allowed access to pets. This is one reason why some hospitals now use pet therapy as a way to build positive feelings in patients as speed their recovery as a result.
One last health benefit of owning a dog is that in some cases they may actually help you to live longer. It seems from a study of heart attack victims that those individuals who have a dog to go home to typically end up living far longer than those patients from pet-free homes.
So next time you’re spending some time with your beloved dog just take a moment to consider how much of a positive effect your pet is most likely having on your health. That’s yet another reason to let a dog into your life.