There’s no denying that having an adorable four-legged creature jump up and down in excitement when you walk through the door after a long day is one of the most satisfying things in the world. It’s astonishing that no matter how bad they’ve messed up, by chewing everything expensive and valuable while leaving the useless trinkets intact, we still love them with all our hearts. But what does science have to say about our need for a furry companion? Here are a few reasons why owning a dog can make your life healthier.
You’ll be happier
Research shows that even just 10 or 15 minutes of petting your dog can release certain hormones. Serotonin, dopamine, prolactin and oxytocin are those magical ‘feel good’ hormones we’re always hearing so much about. A boost of these can help people cope with depression and certain stress-related disorders. Humans aren’t meant to be alone. We are social creatures and although many of us feel the urge to surround ourselves with caring people at all times, sometimes having your precious pup around is more than enough to boost your bad mood.
You’ll have fewer health problems.
Besides the emotional and mental health benefits, your dog is actually great for your physical health… both in the short and long term. According to a study by the British Journal of Health, dog owners have been found to have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, and fewer medical problems in general than those without pets.
You’ll exercise more.
This one is a double whammy because both you and your dog will benefit. When you take your dog to the park, a stroll around the block or a running session, you’re adding in extra calories burnt that you’re not even thinking about. Research done at the University of Missouri found that individuals who exercise with their dogs are more likely to stick with their workout routine because they were not exercising so much for them, but for their dog. And believe me, running under the hot summer sun is a lot more rewarding when Fido is happy just to be outside. Besides, once your dog is used to the regular runs, you’ll find it impossible to resist those big eyes and wagging tail.
You’ll make more friends.
Increase your social contact on a regular basis by taking your dog to the local dog park or beach, even the pet store. Ask any horny college boy and they’ll testify that a dog, especially a puppy, is one of the best wingmen you could ask for. Having a dog may not make you an irresistible specimen to the opposite sex per say but it certainly makes you seem more social, approachable and friendly. Having your furry friend around will give you more excuses to get out of the house and mingle with other dogs and dog lovers. A study by Britain’s Warwick University found that 40% of people reported making friends much easier as a result of owning a dog.
You’ll be a better person.
This one will especially resonate with people that have owned dogs before because they know that while we train our dogs to be how we want them to be, we don’t realize how much they are training us in exchange. Dogs remind us to enjoy the little moments, even if it’s just a quick glance out the window or a dash into the yard. You will learn patience, empathy, selflessness, responsibility, and commitment, all of which are qualities that can only help in other realms of your life. Having a dog makes you realize that it’s not just you in this world. There is at least one other creature that no matter how bad you messed up that day, they will still love you unconditionally.
If you are considering getting one of your very own companions, just remember: adopt, adopt, adopt. There are millions of homeless pups out there just waiting for a loving home and you could be it. As a proud owner of a 15-year-old rescue dog, I can assure you rescues are the most grateful, appreciative and well-behaved pets you could ask for.
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