1. Dogs can provide companionship, improve mental health, and ease loneliness, anxiety, and depression.You’ve probably felt isolated, stressed, and alone during this COVID-19 pandemic. And you’re not alone. Anxiety and depression have soared among adults in the U.S. A dog can provide you the companionship we all need so you don’t feel so alone. Dogs are also shown to help patients who are undergoing surgery or treatments for chronic illnesses. These experiences can be isolating, so having a dog around may be beneficial.
2. Dogs can lower blood pressure and improve heart health.One scientific study tested whether the presence of a dog could lower the blood pressure of people in a stressful situation. Researchers found that when a dog was in a room, people who needed to complete a stressful task like speech writing had lower blood pressure. In another study, a group of elderly people had weekly visits from a dog and another group didn’t have these visits. Scientists found that the group of elderly people who had visits from a dog had lower blood pressure than the other group. Pretty cool how dogs may help to lower blood pressure, huh? Dogs can also improve heart health by encouraging their owners to move regularly since dogs need to be walked. On average, dog owners walk at least 150 minutes per week. And all that walking can make your heart stronger by reducing cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and your risk for heart attacks. And even if a dog owner does have a heart attack, they’re more likely to survive it than those without a four-legged friend. So next time you’re comfy on the couch when your dog whines to go outside – instead of rolling your eyes, maybe just say thanks.
3. Dogs can help you lose weight and meet your physical activity goals.In a competition with your brother to see who’s crowned the Step Count King or Queen? A dog just might be your secret weapon. Dogs can help since they need to be walked multiple times a week. In fact, the step count of dog owners was 57-77% higher than non-dog owners in a specific community study. Dog owners are also four times more likely than non-dog owners to meet their physical activity guidelines. This is important to note because about 75% of adults in the United States aren’t getting their weekly amount of recommended exercise. If you want to experience the benefits of exercise including stress relief, improved brain function, increased mental health, and better discipline, a dog can help!
4. Dogs can support those in need.A canine companion can be an invaluable support if you have a disability or illness. Dogs – specifically guide, service, or assistance dogs – are trained to help their owners with disabilities such as those who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, have a seizure disorder, have severe insulin dependent diabetes, have severe allergic reactions, undergoing cancer treatment, and mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD for example. A more well-known example of this is guide dogs, who can provide confidence for those who are visually impaired or blind by guiding them through public places. Other dogs can also assist humans suffering from severe health conditions or allergy attacks. These dogs are specifically trained to get supplies or perform procedures for a human. Dogs can also help children with disabilities. A study looked at children with cerebral palsy (a group of disorders that affect a child’s ability to move) and physical and mental disabilities. These children were experiencing anxiety and having a hard time getting through daily life due to their disabilities. A therapy dog helped the children:
- Cope and work through their anxiety and fear
- Improve their ability to move and use their body
- Develop empathy through communication between themselves and the dog