Dogs have been man’s closest friend for thousands of years and they have evolved to become acutely atuned to our behaviours and emotions. Not only do they understand our words, but they are capable of interpreting our tone of voice, body language and gestures.
Most dog owners are pretty clear of the imediate joy that comes from having a dog in the family. However the health benefits that accompany dog companionship cannot be overstated. In fact, the American Heart Asociation has linked the ownership of dogs with a reduced risk for heart disease, and greater longevity. Living with dogs has been shown to lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety and stress.
People who have dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those who don’t have pets. Positive play with dogs can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which can help calm and relax. Pet owners also have lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels than those without pets. One of the reasons for the therapeutic effects is that dogs (and pets in general) fulfill the basic need humans have for touch.
Even criminals in prisons have exhibited long term changes in their behaviour after interacting with dogs, many of them experiencing mutual affection for the first time. Stroking and petting a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed or anxious. Adding to this is the fact the dogs are a great motivation for exercise, which can boost the mood and help with depression.
Dogs are a great way to fight depression. Not only do they offer unconditional love, they also give their owners a sense of purpose which is very important when depression kicks in. Dogs can bring feelings of joy and happiness when you are lonely. This is particularly apparent among the sick and the elderly. The ability to reduce our stress levels and increase our feelings of happiness can do wonders for our mind and bodies. Besides increasing our bodies’ defense against illness, decreasing stress allows us to heal quicker from injuries, help us feel younger and give us a positive outlook on life.
Of course having a dog comes with a huge set of responsibilities. Happiness and keeping everything stess free from a dog wonership point of view depends on you, and how you care for your dog. Adequate exercise and a healthy diet for you and your pooch can do wonders for a long lasting and healthy life.