It’s no secret that dogs are amazing creatures. Whether they are snuggling up on the couch or giving us plenty of slobbery kisses, they always find a way to make our lives better. What some people may not realize though, is that their presence has direct, measurable benefits to our health and quality of life.
What does the science say?
Over the past couple decades, veterinarians and scientists have studied the impact of having a dog in the home. It turns out, they have much more to offer than being man’s best friend. Research shows that dog owners suffer from fewer illnesses and recover faster from sickness than their counterparts. Owners make fewer trips to the doctor’s office, they have reduced pulse rates and blood pressures, and they handle stress far better than most people. On average, dog owners have lower cholesterol, they deal with blood sugar levels and diabetes more effectively, and they are less likely to suffer from mental health issues. Lastly, their survival rates from surgeries, cancer treatments, and heart attacks are notably higher than other patients.
What is the physical healing power of pets?
These benefits happen for several reasons. First, exercise from walks and trips to the dog park elevates our metabolism and contributes to our daily activity. As science has shown time and time again, routine exercise – even in small amounts – is hugely beneficial to our wellness. The second way dogs affect our bodily health is through mealtime. Behavior experts have concluded that sharing meals with a friend or loved one, including pets, impacts the amount we eat. Overall, it results in a more leisurely meal which improves digestion and decreases caloric intake. Combined with the exercise, these lifestyle changes encourage a much healthier weekly schedule. Third, dogs regularly improve our brain’s chemical makeup. When interacting with dog in a positive way, our brain releases the hormones serotonin and oxytocin –those releases lead to increased feelings optimism, trust, and confidence. When massaging, petting, or cuddling a dog, our brain decreases the cortisol (stress hormone) and increases the dopamine (pleasure hormone) levels in our system. Ultimately, these chemical changes affect our attitude, energy levels, and state of being.
What is the social healing power of pets?
Dogs provide several social and behavioral advantages to their owners. They help train humans to have stronger and more respectful relationships, they provide social outlets for their owners – which makes us more confident, outgoing people – and they further development of characteristics like patience, self-control, and compassion. According to sociologist Leslie Irvine, an expert and lead researcher at the University of Colorado-Boulder, dogs can affect our behavior to an even greater degree. Her study on the intersection of homelessness and pet ownership have given insight to the power of a dog’s influence: she’s gathered testimonials from people who credit animals with saving them from criminal danger, abusive relationships, drug abuse, and suicide.
What is the behavior healing power of pets?
Once again, this happens because of how dogs affect human behavior. Pets don’t judge us or act aggressively towards us, and our brain learns from and mimics that temperament. Their demeanor encourages humans to more appropriately connect with each other and build healthier friendships. The dog park is a particularly good place to practice social skills, as there are usually so many different people and pups nearby. For more introverted or lonely people, this can be very important for mental health. Lastly, they give humans a purpose. Taking care of another being is a unique experience and having an obligation to support and protect someone makes us stronger. Training a dog provides humans a chance to learn about other creatures, themselves, and how to be a better person. In a lot of ways, a puppy is like a child – and the benefits from raising one are similar in nature.
Truthfully, there has never been a better time to own a dog. Since 2020, rates of loneliness and depression are higher than they’ve ever been. While dogs can’t fix all the pain we feel, they are a place to look to for support. Pets are therapeutic in a number of ways and they fulfill emotional needs of love, security, and comfort. Don’t forget to look to pooches as a shoulder to lean on as we head out of this winter together – they are here for us, just as we are here for them. At Pet Butler, we want you and your pups to help each other live happy and prosperous lives. Don’t waste your time together picking your pets poop, let Pet Butler do it for you. We scoop poop so you don’t have to. Schedule your scooping service now!