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I don’t know about you, but every time I see a dog, let alone spend time with my own dog, I instantly feel happy. Admittedly, when I see a cute photo of a dog on the internet my heart melts a little. Dogs make great companions and are wonderful at putting a smile on our face. But can they do more for us than provide loyal companionship? The answer is yes.
Studies have shown that dogs are great for our physical and mental well-being.
Having a pet—a dog in particular—likely lowers the risk of heart disease.
According to a study by the American Heart Association, owning a pet – particularly a dog, may protect your heart from health disease.
“Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease” said Glenn N. Levine, M.D., professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
The study suggests that “owning pets is associated with reducing your risk of heart disease. It may be that healthier people are more likely to be pet owners or that people with dogs tend to exercise more. Pets also play a role in providing social support to their owners, which is an important factor in helping you stick with a new habit or adopting a new healthy behavior.”
More research shows us that owning pets may be associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a lower incidence of obesity.
Owning a dog can strengthen the bond between humans.
I believe this 100%. My husband and I have a wonderful relationship and I credit Rocket for strengthening it! We both love and care for Rocket tremendously, so it is something we completely connect on. When we spend time with Rocket, all of us have a great time. Rocket encourages us to be active by going for a walk or jog, he cuddles up between us on the couch at night, and he gives us the most incredible morning wake up call. He makes both of us feel so loved and that radiates onto each other!
A recent study at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found that people who have strong connections to their pets also have social and relationship benefits. The researchers surveyed 500 18- to 26-year-olds.
“Our findings suggest that it may not be whether an animal is present in an individual’s life that is most significant but rather the quality of that relationship,” said Megan Mueller, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and research assistant professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. “The young adults in the study who had strong attachment to pets reported feeling more connected to their communities and relationships.”
They also found that the more attached a person was to an animal as a teenager and young adult, the more empathetic and confident he or she was.
Staring at your dog makes you feel happy.
According to a 2009 study by Miho Nagasawa of Azabu University in Japan, interactions with dogs, especially those initiated by the dog's gaze, can increase oxytocin (neurohormone that elicits feelings of happiness and plays a role in bonding) in our bodies. The longer we gaze into our dog’s eyes, the higher the dose of oxytocin.
In the past, people believed that you should never look at a dog directly in the eyes unless trying to establish dominance. They encouraged you to look at their nose and avoid eye-contact. If a dog made eye contact, it was because he was challenging his authority as a leader of the pack. Most trainers today tend to encourage eye contact and as this study suggest, it is even recommended to build a better relationship. Just from my own personal experience, I can say that when I look into Rocket's eyes, it gives him a sense of comfort. He relaxes and usually takes a deep sigh. It's pretty sweet.
Dogs have the ability to calm you in high-stress situations
Karen Walker, a psychology professor at the University of Buffalo, performed a series of tests that proved dogs help reduce people’s everyday stress. She wired volunteers to blood-pressure monitors and had them rapidly count backward by threes from a four-digit number. She found that the subject’s stress response was significantly lower if there was a dog in the room.
Additional studies have found that:
Those with dogs are less likely to suffer from depression than people without pets.
Having a dog can lower your blood pressure in stressful situations.
Spending time with your dog can elevate levels of dopamine and serotonin to calm and relax you.
Patients who have had heart attacks survive longer than those without a pet.
Pet owners over the age of 65 go to the doctor 30 percent less than people without pets.
A dog will instantly cure loneliness
It's hard to feel alone when you have a dog by your side. Even though they can't talk, they unconditionally love you. They provide you with companionship and make you feel complete, sometimes more than a human can give. As we grow old, the more prone to loneliness we become. A study stated that in people 60 years of age and older, owning a dog or a cat were four times less likely to be diagnosed as clinically depressed.
You will enjoy the simple things in life.
It's so easy to get caught up in all the technology and hustle and bustle that we sometimes forget to take a step back. I find that I'm easily consumed by it all. Work, social media, chores. At times, I don't even realize how consumed I am…until I catch Rocket staring at me. He flips the switch. He makes me instantly aware that I need to take a step back and think about what is truly important in life.
Shamefully, sometimes I am on social media, posting on HIS Instagram account and I realize that he is sitting there, right next to me, looking for attention that I'm not giving him. I instantly feel bad about it. It's a wake-up call. Our dogs are right. We need to enjoy the simple things, the real things and remember that our pets lives are never long enough. Spend quality time with them. Give them your undivided attention. Play with them. Make yummy treats for them. Your dog is so loyal to you and deserves the love and attention. They are only here for a short time. We must remember that while we have so much going on in our world, we are their ENTIRE world.
Owning a dog can truly make a difference in your life and even live a longer, healthier life. Don’t miss a chance to enjoy the time you have with your furry pal.
How does your dog improve your life? Let us know in the comments below!
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