It’s not exactly a secret that dogs make us happy and add colour and good vibes to our lives. After all, they are not known as man’s best friends for nothing! But did you know the ways in which they could do so? Some may surprise you. We here at The Pup Life are more than happy to share some reasons on how our favourite four-legged companions help to enrich and make our lives better, as if you needed more reasons to get a cute puppy anyway!
Reason 1: They Are Scientifically Proven To Make Us Happy
Studies have revealed that interactions with dogs increase the level of oxytocin in our bodies, help to improve our moods and fight off symptoms of depression. Oxytocin is known as the ‘Love Hormone’ or ‘Cuddle Hormone’, and we release it when we interact with an individual or animal through hugging, touching or even gazing into their eyes. It helps to increase relaxation, trust and psychological stability, while decreasing stress levels and anxiety levels, when released into the body. Additionally, studies have shown that a dog’s social skills are inevitably linked to oxytocin sensitivity.
Reason 2: They Can Help Medically
Did you know that dogs can help save our lives with a sniff? For starters, their sense of smell can be up to 100,000 times more sensitive than ours! This sense of smell can be translated into detecting symptoms for illnesses or diseases, such as hypoglycemia in diabetics, seizures in epileptics, and migraines for those who always suffer from them. And help empower these individuals who suffer from these diseases to live more fulfilling lives. Of course, a lot of training would be first required, but the potential is enormous.
Reason 3: They Encourage Healthy Lifestyles
Dogs help foster more active lifestyles for us through an increase in physical fitness. Studies have also shown that dog owners are more inclined to meet their daily exercise requirements. When we take our canine companions out on trips outside, short walks or long runs, our increased physical activity also contributes to our mental well-being over time. Regular physical exercises result in our bodies releasing endorphins, which are ‘feel good’ chemicals that trigger positive feelings. And this increase in physical activity also helps reduce one’s cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure levels, and contribute to better heart health.
Being out and about with your dog or puppy also naturally means that you are getting more chances to enjoy nature and take in some healthy vitamin D through sun exposure, which serves as an important mood booster.
Reason 4: They Help Combat Loneliness and Improve Our Social Lives
Having a dog provides invaluable companionship as well, which can help to fight off challenges such as loneliness. A very real issue in adulthood, one ramped up by the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures. For example, a quick snuggle with your fur-kid can get you that oxytocin boost!
Your fur-kid can widen your social opportunities as well. In fact, studies have shown that dogs, or even other pets such as cats, help foster human relationships and social support, which are beneficial for an individual’s long-term health. These opportunities can simply come about when you go out on walks in the neighbourhood or the park with your canine companion. In fact, a study has shown that pet owners were 60% more likely than non–pet owners to get to know people in their neighbourhoods they did not know before.
Dogs can really help improve the quality of life for our seniors as well. For example, elderly folk with dementia issues often incur stress in their attempts to communicate with others. However, with dogs, they can relieve that stress by bonding without having to rely on language, and enjoy that endorphin boost when it comes to interacting with a pet.
Owning a dog helps a senior’s self-confidence as well, by creating a sense of purpose, responsibility and independence. And seniors who have dogs are more than likely to get more exercise and social interaction with people as well, which helps with both mental and physical health.
Reason 5: They Provide Us With an Immune System Boost
Having a dog at home can also help to boost your microbiome. The microbiome is a term describing microorganisms that live in or on our bodies, and is critical for human development, immunity and nutrition.
Dogs possess different bacteria which adds to the diversity of the indoor microbiome and naturally strengthens our immune system. While the idea of having more germs and bacteria in your home may be an unsettling thought and appear counterintuitive, this increased exposure can actually help to ward off a variety of diseases. In fact, over the years, there have been studies which revealed that children who grew up in households with pets such as dogs have actually a lower risk of developing autoimmune illnesses like asthma and allergies.