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The remarkable benefits of having a dog🐶💛

Dogs are often referred to as man's best friend, and for a very good reason. Aside from their unwavering loyalty and companionship, dogs can bring a number of benefits to their owners. From improving our physical health to enhancing our mental wellbeing and fostering social connections, owning a dog can have a profoundly positive impact on our lives.This blog and the benefits described below have been written using information and research findings from the National Library of Medicine (Gee et al., 2021).


Improved physical health:

Owning a dog can be a great opportunity to have a more active and healthy lifestyle. Dogs need regular exercise, which means dog owners are more likely to engage in physical activities such as walking, jogging or playing fetch. According to the American Heart Association, dog ownership has been linked to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The physical activity involved in caring for a dog can contribute to weight management and overall fitness, leading to a healthier, more active life.


Improved mental wellbeing:

Interacting with dogs has a remarkable effect on our mental well-being. Numerous studies have shown that owning a dog can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Petting a dog releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and well-being, while reducing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Dogs provide companionship, unconditional love and a sense of purpose, which can help combat feelings of loneliness and improve overall mood. They provide a comforting presence and are often used as therapy animals to alleviate symptoms of various mental health conditions.


Social connection and support: Dogs serve as natural icebreakers, facilitating social connections and fostering a sense of community. Walking a dog in the neighbourhood or visiting dog parks provides opportunities for social interaction with other dog owners, leading to conversations, friendships and a wider support network. Dogs are also known to provide emotional support, particularly for people going through difficult times or dealing with stressful situations. They offer a non-judgmental ear and unwavering loyalty, which can be immensely comforting and therapeutic. Increased responsibility and routine: Caring for a dog creates a sense of responsibility and establishes a daily routine. Dogs rely on their owners for food, exercise, grooming and general well-being. This responsibility can be fulfilling and rewarding, and teaches valuable life skills such as time management, organisation and empathy. Establishing a routine with a dog can provide structure and stability, which can be particularly beneficial for people struggling with anxiety or other mental health issues. Strengthened immune system: Growing up with or being regularly exposed to dogs can have long-term effects on the immune system. Research suggests that early exposure to pets, especially dogs, may reduce the risk of developing allergies and asthma. Dogs bring dirt and microbes into our homes, exposing us to a variety of microorganisms that can help strengthen our immune system and potentially reduce the risk of allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Conclusion: Owning a dog is a mutually beneficial relationship that goes beyond mere companionship. Scientific evidence supports the profound positive impact dogs have on our physical health, mental well-being, social relationships and overall quality of life. From encouraging an active lifestyle to providing unconditional love and support, dogs bring immeasurable joy and happiness to our lives. So whether you're thinking of getting a dog or already have one, take advantage of the remarkable benefits they offer and experience the transformative power of having a loyal four-legged friend by your side.


References:


Gee, N., R., Rodriguez, K., E., Fine, A., H., Trammell, J., P. (2021),‘ Dogs Supporting Human Health and Well-Being: A Biopsychosocial Approach’: https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.630465 (accessed: 07/06/2023)

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