How Dogs Make Us Healthier and Happier

As a dog owner, you probably suspect your pooch is contributing to your overall health and happiness. Here’s some scientific proof.

As a dog owner, you probably already suspect that your pooch contributes to your overall health and happiness. So, you’ll probably be thrilled to learn that there’s some solid scientific research to back it up.

Here are some of the ways in which dogs make us healthier and happier:

1. Dogs help lower stress and blood pressure

By simply by giving your pooch a pat or a cuddle, you’re helping lower the levels of your stress hormone, cortisol. There are plenty of studies like this one that show even just 10 minutes of interaction with a dog can significantly lower people’s levels of cortisol.

Reduced cortisol levels, in turn, lead to lower blood pressure. Interacting with dogs and other animals also increases our levels of oxytocin (the happiness hormone), which is also linked to lower blood pressure.

Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, or aren’t under a lot of stress, the boost of oxytocin that your dog provides will help make you feel better about life in general, which can help reduce feelings of depression. This is one of the reasons dogs are used as therapy animals.

2. Dogs can help lower the risk of asthma in children

As well as being a great way to teach responsibility and instil a love of animals in your kids, having a dog around the house may help lower their risk of asthma according to a Swedish study. And, if you’re pregnant, another study showed that dogs can help reduce the risk of eczema.

3. Dog owners are more active

This point probably isn’t much of a surprise, seeing as though dogs need to be taken on regular walks to keep them happy and healthy. So, simply by looking after your pooch, you’re upping your daily exercise regime. And, if this isn’t enough to make you feel just a little bit smug, one study even found that dog owners were overall more active on miserable winter days than non-dog owners were when the sun was shining and it was warm outside.

4. Dogs can improve your social life

Whether you’re taking your new puppy to puppy school, frequenting your local dog park, or just walking your dog around your neighbourhood, the chances are you’ll run into other dog owners, or someone who wants to give yours a quick pat. Interacting with other people in this way is good for your mental health and helps foster a sense of community.

5. Dogs can detect illness

We all know that dogs have an amazing sense of smell; who hasn’t noticed their dog suddenly appear when their favourite snack packet has been opened? This sense of smell means that they can be trained to detect certain types of cancer or other illnesses.

So, now that you’ve learned just how much healthier your dog is making you, give them a pat or a cuddle, or engage in some playtime. Not only will it make you feel better, it’ll make them feel pretty great too.