Put down the coconut water and cancel your gym membership. Here are 10 reasons why a canine companion is just the ticket to good health and vitality.
1. Dogs force you to exercise
No one loves the great outdoors more than dogs and, as a result, dog owners are more likely to get out and about. One study from The Journal of Physical Activity & Health went so far to say dog owners are more likely to keep and reach their fitness goals.
2. Dogs reduce stress
Interacting with a dog actively lowers your stress levels, leading better moods and less anxiety. One study found dogs are more effective at lowering people’s stress levels than their significant others.
3. Dogs can save our lives – literally
Dogs, in particular labradors, are often thought of as the hardest-working dogs. From assisting the blind and disabled, to alerting their owners before a diabetic seizure or immediate health threat, having a four-legged companion by their side really is a matter of life and death for some.
4. Dogs can sniff everything
With the right training, dogs can turn their smell receptors into an incredible lifesaving device. Having a remarkable sense of smell — 25 times more smell receptors than humans — has made dogs the ideal companion when locating survivors after a disaster, detecting drugs and more.
5. Dogs are an effective alarm system
Because of their super hearing, dogs remain one of the best deterrents with a single bark. Dogs may be a cost effective alarm system but there is a difference between a watch dog and a guard dog. If you’re going to invest in the latter, seek the help of a professional.
6. Dogs increase oxytocin production
Feel better after hanging out with your dog? It’s all thanks to the hormone oxytocin, often referred to as the ‘love hormone’. In 2015, scientists at the International Conference of Human-Animal Interactions presented findings confirming that friendly human-dog interaction releases oxytocin and overall, helps humans bond with their dog.
7. Dog owners have fewer visits to the GP
Hate visiting your doctor? Consider adopting a dog. A UCLA study of 1000 elderly people residing in California concluded that dog owners visited the GP 21 per cent less than those without dogs.
8. Dogs are good for heart health
Seeing a dog makes our heart flutter and, according to a 1995 study, they can also keep our hearts healthy. The study followed 369 people with cardiovascular disease for one year and found those who owned a dog were four times more likely to be alive than those who didn’t.
9. Dogs make great therapists
Being around animals automatically lifts a bad mood, but dogs in particular seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing what sort of mood their owners are in. It’s no coincidence, then, that therapy dogs are a common sight at hospitals and care homes providing comfort and company.
10. Dogs make us better people
Being responsible for a dog to walk, feed and care for teaches us patience, commitment and selflessness. In return, owners receive something they cannot get from another human: unconditional love and 100 per cent acceptance.