Unknown to many people, dogs have a positive impact on the physical and mental well-being of their owners. Allen R. McConnell, PHD who is a professor of psychology at Miami University, stated "We found that pet owners, on average, were better off than non-owners, especially when they have a higher-quality relationship with their pets."
We bet you thought there was no possible way you could love your pup more. Well, here are 7 ways they're helping you that you probably didn't even know about. Add these to the long list of things they do for you and we think that calls for some extra special toys and treats.
The 7 Ways
1. Dog owners tend to have lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and increased fitness.
In a 2006 study completed by Canadian researchers at the University of Victoria, they discovered that dog owners were more likely to participate in mild to moderate physical activity. On average, owners walked 300 minutes per week, compared to non-dog owners, who walked an average of 168 minutes per week. The lowered cholesterol and blood pressure in combination with the increased fitness may help owners reduce their chances of cardiovascular diseases as well.
2. Your dog may help reduce stress.
A study at Azabu University of Japan by Miho Nagasava found that dogs and their owners release oxytocin (widely referred to as the love hormone) while interacting with one another. The biggest effect occurred when they looked into each other's eyes. This is most commonly known to occur with mother and their children, but Nagasava discovered it happens with dogs too! So next time you're feeling down, be sure to take a long hard look into your dog's loving eyes.
3. Dogs may prevent allergies in kids.
Contrary to what was previously believed, dogs may prevent allergies in children. Allergist Thomas Platts-Mills, MD, PhD, of the University of Virginia, teamed up with Swedish researchers to perform a study on allergies in kids. They found that the longer amount of time children had pets (especially in their first two years), the less likely they were of having pet allergies later on.
4. Dogs make you happier!
A large review of studies by the British Psychological Society found that dogs may help promote psychological well-being through lowering stress and improving self-esteem. People with pets are generally happier, more trusting, and less lonely than people without pets.
One explanation for this, McConnell suggests, is that, "You feel like you have greater control of your life." Regardless of the reason, the end-result is happiness...and we all could use a little more of that!
5. Dogs may reduce pain.
"Petting your animal releases endorphin's — the same hormones that give a runner's high — and they are powerful pain relievers," says Johnson. "That's been demonstrated in hospitalized patients who had a visit from an animal and reported less pain simply from one visit" (Health.com).
So dogs may be a natural pain reliever...what can't they do?!
6. Dogs may help improve relationships.
Dogs may help us improve our social skills. Even though they may not be able to speak (to us), they allow humans to perfect their social skills in their home. In addition, dogs have been shown to help children with Autism.
"Animals change the classroom environment and help to integrate those who are a little less typical," Beck says. "Once the children get involved with animals, they view each other more positively and work together better."
7. Bring family together.
4 out of 5 owners consider dogs to be a part of their family. As part of the family, they act as the glue that helps bond members together. Anyone who has ever lived with a dog knows that they lift your spirits, love unconditionally, and are always there when you need them.
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