My dog is my best friend.
Dogs are mankind’s oldest and most trusted friends. This ancient friendship is the reason why today we go as far as trusting these animals with our lives.
The ways in which dogs contribute to our lives are too many to list here. However, anyone who has ever had the pleasure of owning a dog, or seen a service dog in action, understands why dogs are considered to be man’s best friends.
Though already obvious to most dog owners, recent scientific studies into the remarkable bond between man and dog have cemented the notion that dog ownership has an astonishing number of psychological and physical health benefits.
Physiological Benefits of Dog Ownership
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Dog owners have been shown to have overall lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than none dog owners. Dog owners are well aware of how calming it is to stroking a dog. Scientists believe that this calming effect is what leads to the overall lower blood pressure levels dog owners enjoy.
A study conducted by the New York State University found that these calming benefits continue even when the dog is not physically with its owner. The study tested the blood pressure levels of a group of stockbrokers with hypertension. After a series of tests the researchers concluded that just being a dog owner can help lower one’s blood pressure.
Dog owners have also been found to possess lower blood cholesterol levels than none dog owners. Five thousand four hundred people were tested by the Baker Medical Research Institute of Australia. The study concluded that dog owners have lower levels of blood triglycerides and cholesterol compared to people who don’t own a dog.
Faster Recovery Time
Hospital studies have found that individuals who have recently underwent an operation respond better to treatment and have shorter recovery times when they are in contact with dogs. Just petting a dog is enough to have a therapeutic effect on their recovery time.
Hospital studies have also found that dog owners have a greater chance of survival after suffering from a serious illness. Several of these studies discovered that dog owners who suffered heart attacks were more likely to be alive a year after they were discharged from the hospital than those who did not own dogs. Remarkably, a New York State University study found that a dog’s presence effected the survival rates of patients more than the presence of family and friends.
Better Overall Sense of Well Being
Studies conducted at Cambridge and UCLA have found that the presence of a dog in an individual’s life corresponds to that person’s overall improved health and sense of well being. A Medicare study of elderly patients also discovered that those who own dogs visit the doctor less than those who do not own dogs. The Journal of American Geriatrics Society notes that pet ownership has a positive effect on a senior’s physical and emotional well being.
Psychological Benefits of Dog Ownership
Individuals who own dogs have also been found to have better emotional health than their counterparts. It is no secret that dogs offer their owners unconditional love and devotion; the presence of a dog helps reduce loneliness for sick people who have otherwise been isolated. Several studies of people with major illnesses have shown that the stress of fighting the disease is significantly reduced when they have a dog to keep them company.
For the handicapped, elderly or otherwise incapacitated, a dog offers friendship and can even add an element of safety to their lives. Therefore, it is no surprise that dogs are used as a form of therapy in hospices, nursing homes and as companions for the disabled and blind.
Several studies have shown that dog owners are happier, in general. Dog ownership can cause happiness in humans, in part, by causing the release of endorphins in the brain, which are natural anti-depressants produced by the human body. These feelings of happiness and general well being, brought on by the companionship of a dog, can also increase longevity. According to happiness studies the effect of happiness on longevity is comparable to that of smoking or not smoking.