After the end of a stressful day you come home to your dog wagging their tail and running towards you, that sudden feeling of calmness and relief isn’t just in your head, is it? No, that feeling isn’t just in your imagination, recent research suggests that your fluffy friend truly is good for your physical and mental health.
“Pets often provide unconditional acceptance and love and they’re always there for you,” says Gary A. Christenson, MD, chief medical officer at Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota. “There is a bond and companionship that makes a big difference in mental health,”
Not to mention all the extra exercise you get from walks and playtime. Dogs improve out health in many ways, whether it’s though physical or mental health, pets can be very calming and have been scientifically proven to lower stress levels.
“We found that pet owners, on average, were better off than non-owners, especially when they have a higher-quality relationship with their pets,” says pet researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD. Who is a professor of psychology at Miami University.
A dog can be your heart’s best friend
Recently, a panel of experts from the American Heart Association (AHA) have weighed all the available evidence. The conclusive finding has been that having a pet, a dog in particular, likely lowers the risk of heart disease, but why?
“People who have dogs live longer than people who have cats, and the assumption has been that dogs naturally cause their owners to be more active,” suggests Dr. Thomas Lee, Co-Editor in Chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. “The emotional benefits of having an affectionate creature are also one of the theories for why dog-lovers live longer.”
Much of the evidence reviewed by the AHA Indicates that dog owners are more likely to exercise. They also found that they are more likely to have lower blood pressure, be less vulnerable to the effects of stress, and more likely to survive a heart attack.
Can having a dog help with anxiety and depression?
Dogs can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. However, don’t just take our word for it.
“I finally realized the answer to my decade long question of how to manage anxiety and depression – exercise, laughter and love – all things that were unattainable for me before, were achieved by getting a dog.” Says pet owner Kathryn Oda from the Huffington Post.
The reason that these three things are so key, is they all trigger the release of the chemical serotonin – the feel-good chemical in our brains (also released by working out or exercising). By having increased levels of serotonin every day, symptoms of anxiety and depression can dramatically decrease.
Hey, what about cats?
It’s true, both dogs and cats are positive influences and can have an additive calming effect on their owners when compared to other animals. Doctors aren’t exactly sure why, but researcher think that cats and declining stress may have more to do with the personality of the cat owner than anything else. Cats commonly become the focus of their owner’s attention and interest, which can divert their stressful worries into positive thoughts.
More relationships and connections
One key to a healthy mind is to stay engaged with other people. Pet owners tend to want to talk with other pet owners compared to people who don’t own any pets. Basically having a dog is a conversation waiting to happen, people are more likely to stop and talk with you when they see you walking your dog.
Having a dog even makes you more likely to find a partner believe it or not.
“They see you with a dog and all their defenses go down,” said Dr. Helen Fisher, “They assume you must be a decent human being. How could you have a dog and be a bad person?”
All of us at Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique agree with Dr. Fisher, dog owners are often perceived to be more approachable and happier than people without dogs.
“Having a dog really says something about you,” said Dr. Fisher. “It says you can care for a creature, that you can follow a schedule and get home to feed it, that you can walk it and love it and spend time with it.”
“It’s a signal that a man or woman may not only make a good friend but also a good parent”, Dr. Fisher said.
Is it time to get a dog?
As we stated above, getting a dog can dramatically change the way you’re able to manage anxiety, depression, or simply your overall mental health. However, owning a dog comes with many responsibilities. There are many things to consider before deciding to get a dog.
Remember, thousands of dogs are abandoned at shelters every year, especially in the first year of their lives. This is common phenomenon because people are unaware of how much time, money, and responsibility a dog requires. When it comes to food, Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique offer trusted brands in our stores that we feed to our own dogs at home.
Some important things to consider before deciding to own a dog:
- A dog requires at minimum two hours of your time each day for attention. A puppy requires even more at around four hours each day. If you can give at least two hours consider rescuing/adopting a dog in need of a home, there are thousands of dogs that would love to have you in their lives.
- Keep in mind that there are many different breeds of dogs that all have their unique requirements when it comes to exercise and diet. Different dog breeds also mean different personalities, try to pick a dog that will match well with your personality. We suggest taking this quiz at My Real Personality to find the perfect match for you.
- Although you don’t have to be a millionaire to own a dog, being able to afford everything a dog requires is important. Dogs, especially puppies, can be very expensive. Keep in mind you have to buy all of their accessories, food, treats, toys, and the most expensive: vet bills. The ASPCA estimates that it costs between $580 and $875 per year to take care of a dog’s routine needs.
Don’t forget about your dogs health either! Treat them to a spa style grooming every month if you can, your dog (and furniture) will appreciate it.
The last thing to remember is that owning a dog is not a miracle cure for any type of physical or mental illness. Owning a dog will only be beneficial and conforming for those who love and appreciate animals, and for those who have the time and money to keep a dog happy and healthy. Please consider all of these things before deciding to get a dog.