Benefits Of Having A Dog: Therapeutic And Health Potential
Recently, my partner generously decided to pick up a second job so I could leave mine and focus entirely on school. The result: a lot of alone time for me. Solitude can certainly be embraced as a wonderful opportunity for self-love and reflection. For me, however, it usually translates to little to no distractions from stress. Solitude can also be a little lonely, too.
So my partner and I took the next step in our relationship: we decided to invite a pet into our lives. From the moment we brought our new pup through the front door, everything in my life changed for the better. I was astounded at the immediate positive and therapeutic effects that my puppy had on me. The stressful tunnel vision that resulted from my perhaps unhealthy dedication to maintaining straight A’s melted away. Instead of viewing myself solely as a student, I was now a caregiver to a beautiful puppy who relied on me for all of its needs. This granted me some much-needed perspective and gave me a greater sense of purpose in life
Turns out, I’m not the only one to enjoy the countless mental, emotional and physical therapeutic health benefits of having a dog. There are a host of positive consequences from adopting a furry member into the family. I outline some below:
The Amazing Health Benefits Of Having A Dog
A staggering 75% of the population encounters stress during a given two-week period. All that stress can cause mental, emotional, physical, behavioral, and cognitive issues. Furry friends greatly help to alleviate the symptoms and consequences of stress. Pets can be an amazing source of comfort and companionship. While they learn certain words in the languages we speak, they are even better at reading body language, tone of voice, and demeanor.
They become attuned to their owners and can tell if you need a little extra love or a quick cuddle. Hugging a loving animal has been proven to quickly soothe people who are stressed. Isolation and loneliness can be triggers for symptoms of depression. Canine companionship combats this by making their owners feel wanted and loved. Pets even encourage greater self-esteem and confidence.
A major bonus for people with social anxiety is that dog owners are 40% more likely to make new friends, chiefly due to the fact that 4 out of 5 dog owners will stop to chat with other dog owners while on walks. Owners love to take their pets to dog parks where the canines can run around in safe spaces and burn off their endless supply of energy. This makes the dog park a lovely social event where people can trade training tips and puppy praise. Dog owners also commonly meet new people in training classes and pet stores. Many owners form a local community of trusted friends who can take turns dog-sitting or taking the puppies for walks. All this can do wonders for people who are too shy to easily make new friends.
“Considering all of these mental and emotional benefits, it’s unsurprising that the number of emotional support animals in America has skyrocketed in recent years. Emotional support animals”says Gail Saltz, M.D., psychiatrist, and author, in an interview
“…presence, their unconditional love, their warmth and softness to pet and hold are all thought to be calming and mood-boosting”
Physical Impact Of Pets
A therapeutic furry friend can positively affect your physical wellbeing, too. People who have dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than people who do not own pets.
Pet owners enjoy a release of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine when they are around their animals; this goes a long way in creating an abundance of joy. Heart attack patients with dogs garner benefit greatly from their partnership. They often live longer lives than those without pets. Pet owners have also been found to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels. That’s why the American Heart Association released a report stating that dog owners have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Another great perk of having a dog is that they require a lot of exercises. That means you’ll be moving more, too. This was confirmed by a year-long study that found that walking an overweight dog consistently resulted in weight loss in both the pet and the owner. Another study published in Time Magazine states that dog owners walk an average of 2,760 steps more per day than those without dogs.
All of these mental, emotional, and physical health benefits of having a dog can result in a great deal of improvement in overall wellness. These cute and cuddly companions are sometimes better sources of support and comfort than even our human friends.
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