Man’s best friend.  Dogs give us companionship, friendship, and loyalty.  They love us unconditionally and they seem to be there when we need them the most, but what has science said about the health benefits of having a dog in the household?  Can owning a dog make us healthier and happier?

Heart-Smart

Researchers have discovered that owning a dog is being heart-smart.  Science has found that owning a dog can help to lower blood pressure and lower heart rate.  Recently a Chinese study found that people who own dogs get better sleep at night and are sick less often.  There are studies that have found that pet owners have slightly lower cholesterol and are more likely to survive a heart attack.  Owning a dog also creates more time for exercise.  Dogs should be walked a few times a day which helps dog owners achieve the recommended 30 minutes a day of exercise suggested. These walks help dog owners in lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease and keeping them in better overall shape than cat owners or people without pets.

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Allergies

Even though many people are allergic to dogs and their dander, research is showing that people who grew up in a house with dogs tend to not get allergies as much as those without dogs in their lives.  Some studies are suggesting that even being around dogs when in the womb assist in lowering the chances of being allergic to dog hair and dander or to develop eczema as an adult.

Depression

Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression.  Owning and playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, the nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties which can help people in stress mode.  Research has studies on how owning a dog can help stop the body from releasing harmful chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine which can negatively affect the immune system.

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Learning Disabilities

We have all heard about the benefits of dogs in the classroom with developmentally challenged children but now researchers are finding that dogs can help all kids with learning. In one study, children were asked to read in front of a peer, an adult, and a dog. Researchers monitored their stress levels and found that kids were most relaxed around the animal, not the humans.  Scientists believe that the relaxation makes it easier to focus and feel less stressed which makes it a more enjoyable act.

Morals

Psychologists believe that owning a dog helps to assist in the learning of nurturing.  There is a belief that in our industrial world, there is less nurturing done between siblings which means as a person gets older, they haven’t developed that skill as much as before.  Owning a dog helps to create a practice of being a caregiver at a young age.  Researchers have found that n nurturing a dog is especially important for boys because taking care of an animal isn’t seen as a ” feminine” act.  It is important for boys to understand the need for being able to take care of another creature. By age 8, girls are more likely to be involved than boys in baby care both inside and outside their homes, but when it comes to pet care, both genders remain equally involved. Researchers believe this will help to create more attentive fathers.

Health Benefits of Owning a Dog