Today over two-thirds of Americans live with pets.
Whether that’s a dog, a cat, a hedgehog, or some other furry little creature, the majority of Americans definitely prefer doing life alongside a furry companion.
Looking at statistics, 68% of North Americans live with at least one pet, while over 75% of children live with one or more pets.
So yes, this means that in North America alone, children are more likely to live with a pet than they are to live with their biological father or sibling.
More and more, pets are being integrated into everyday family life.
Whether that’s participating in family traditions, celebrating birthdays, or providing support during a tough transition, you can be certain that pets are often there to join in with whatever is happening.
Today we’ll be looking at a variety of studies addressing the relationship between pets and humans. Specifically, we’ll be talking about how dogs have proven time and again to influence humans for the good.
Here are seven ways that dogs are impacting and changing people’s lives today.
#1. Dogs Promote Heart Health
That’s right. According to the Circulation journal, dogs have proven themselves capable of promoting good heart health.
Today Cardiovascular disease is the number one leading cause of death across the United States.
Thanks to the typical American diet in combination with a variety of other factors, many Americans are going through life with tickers that are not in the greatest condition.
If this is you, you may want to consider adding a dog to your tribe.
Why? Because over and over again studies have shown a steady correlation between pet ownership and lower blood pressure.
More specifically, among all pets, dogs have been found to be the most likely to influence an individual’s activity level.
For example, when comparing dog owners with non-dog owners, it is the dog owners who typically engage in more physical activities as well as regular walking.
Plus, dog owners have proven to be more likely to achieve their daily recommended level of activity.
What does all this activity lead to? A healthier heart, of course.
So it’s no mistake that pet ownership, especially that of dogs, is considered closely associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
#2. Dogs Decrease Loneliness
Few things can beat the steady companionship of a dog for folks who are looking to keep loneliness at bay.
In one study where college students were examined, dogs were shown to provide a sense of purpose among adults as well as provide companionship.
Sara Staats, the lead author of the study and professor emeritus of psychology at Ohio State’s Newark Campus stated, “We might not think of college students as being lonely, but a lot of freshman and sophomores are in an early transition from living at home to living in dorms or off-campus. College is a very stressful environment for them and sometimes they feel isolated or overwhelmed with the change.”
In looking at the results from the study, Staats continues, “We found that a lot of young adults are choosing to have an animal companion for important reasons. Many feel their pets will help get them through these difficult and stressful situations, and many more say that without their pet, they would feel lonely.”
In addition to curbing loneliness, results from the study also suggested that dogs are excellent for bringing joy and happiness into people’s lives.
#3. Dog’s Reduce Stress
In one study conducted in Buffalo, New York, researches found that the presence of a dog or cat actually reduced stress when the owner was given a stressful task to complete.
Margaret Chesney, a professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco further expounds, “For many people, a pet is a friend, a pet is someone else that has expectations and that meets responses and provides warmth and care for people, someone who often gives unconditional positive regard.”
When we’re honest, who doesn’t love unconditional love?
For some, that comes from a parent, grand-parent, or favorite friend.
For others, it looks like four legs and a bundle of fur.
Regardless, when an individual feels loved and cared for, stress is sure to decrease.
#4. Dog’s Increase Your Social Life
If you are looking to broaden your social circles, you’ll most definitely want to first add a dog to your pack.
For one, it’s easy to start simple small talk when you’re chilling with a dog on your leash. People are quicker to say hello and conversations are easy to engage in when your pooch present.
Folks may ask what breed of dog you have or ask about your pooches age.
Or if they are a dog lover too, you can swap stories and connect on all sorts of dog-related topics.
In addition, by having a dog in your home, you can also teach your children basic socialization skills.
Teach them what is appropriate in best caring for a pet.
Model to your children how to speak kindly and use positive words.
Avoid yelling and speaking harshly at your dog and to your children.
(Hopefully, you are already modeling to your children how they should be treating each other.)
When you bring a dog into the household, each child is simply given more opportunities to be kind and sociable with their new furry friend.
Having a dog in your life can also open new doors to socialize with people who otherwise you would never have met.
You can visit dog parks and outdoor cafes (as they are often dog-friendly!) to meet and connect with other dog lovers.
Or you can find fellow pet lovers online at sites such as dogster.com and petbrags.com.
Alternatively, you could enroll in a dog training class and meet fellow dog lovers that way.
#5. Dog’s Create Stability
In a study presented in the BMC Psychiatry Journal, dogs were proven to provide stability, continuity, and meaning to individuals struggling with mental disorders.
Addressing depression, bipolar, and a variety of other mental disorders, pets provided excellent sources to assist with people’s long-term mental health.
The study concluded, “Pets should be considered a main rather than a marginal source of support in the management of long-term mental health problems.”
It’s no mistake why dogs are being utilized in powerful ways to bring healing and joy through serving as therapy dogs, companion dogs, and a variety of other titles.
#5. Dog’s Ward Off Allergies
Studies have shown that having a dog in the home actually decreases a child’s likelihood to suffer from allergies.
James E Gern, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggested that having a pet in the home lowers the likelihood of allergies by as much as 33% in children.
What happens is that by exposing a child to animals early in their life, their immune system is actually strengthened to better fight off allergies and other diseases.
You might think the best thing you can do for your child is to protect them from germs and never let them get into anything dirty.
However, in this case, the opposite is true.
While you want to be careful to not expose your child to too many harmful germs, a little bit is actually good.
By exposing your child to some dirt and harmful germs, their immune system is given an opportunity to toughen up and fight off foreign substances. Which in turn leads to a stronger immune system to continue fighting future diseases.
So go ahead, bring a dog home and expose your children to a few pet germs.
If they do react in any way, be sure to see your doctor immediately.
Otherwise, relax. Your children’s immune systems are amping up a notch to fight against those unwanted allergies.
#7. Dog’s Create Community
People crave connection.
To be known, loved, and feel happy is core to so many individuals today, and dog lovers are no exception.
Not to mention we were created to do life together, as a community.
Yet, thanks to a whole wide variety of factors, many people today are doing life solo, alone.
Here’s where we get really passionate about dogs.
By bringing a dog into your life, doors swing wide open for building connections and community in an individuals’ life.
As mentioned earlier, dogs are excellent ice breakers.
They make conversations easy to start and even easier to keep going.
So suddenly it becomes much easier to start conversing and connecting with the people right around you.
Dads and small children start creating memories together while playing fetch in the backyard with Bowser.
Siblings begin sharing common interests as they interact with the family dog and share dog-related responsibilities.
Best friends get out and start exploring together while Fido gets his daily exercise quotient filled.
You get the picture.
Countless memories are made as families come together and experience happiness thanks to their four-legged furry pal.
Q. Is it good to socialize your dog?
Yes. Every dog should be socialized to best understand how to interact with other pets and people. Socialize your dog by visiting dog parks, outdoor cafes, and dog training classes.
Q. How do pets help humans?
Dogs are known to improve heart health, decrease feelings of stress and loneliness, increase one’s social life, help fight allergies, provide stability as well as encourage a positive community.
Q. What are the benefits of having a pet for your child?
Among children, pets help build stronger immune systems to fight off unwanted allergies. Dogs also provide positive avenues for teaching children responsibility, kindness, good social skills, gentleness, and discipline.
Q. What are the mental health benefits of owning a pet?
Studies have shown that dogs can enhance people’s long-term mental health. Specifically, dogs provide stability, continuity, and meaning to persons suffering from depression, bipolar, and other mental health disorders.
Q. What are the disadvantages of having a dog?
Despite the many benefits of having a dog, there are also disadvantages as well. These include a reoccurring cost for quality dog food along with occasional veterinary bills.
Q. What are the benefits of having a dog for depression?
For people dealing with depression, studies have shown that dogs provide stability, continuity, and meaning in life. Dogs are also excellent in bringing joy and happiness to people facing depression.
If you can’t already tell, here at VIP Puppies, we are super stoked at what can happen by bringing a dog into your life.
A healthy heart? Check.
Decreased loneliness? Check.
Less stress? Check.
A better social life? Check.
More stability in your life? Check.
A stronger immune system to fight off those nasty allergies (and other diseases too)? Check.
And our favorite of all: build a better community? Check, check, and check.
So what are you waiting for?
Go ahead and fetch yourself some happiness today.
If you already know which breed will be your best fit, then start browsing available puppies here.
Otherwise, learn which dog match is best for you by clicking here.
Until next time,
Brooks, H., Rushton, K., Walker, S. et al (2016). Ontological security and connectivity provided by pets: a study in the self-management of the everyday lives of people diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition. BMC Psychiatry. 28(409). Doi:10.1186/s12888-016-1111-3
Greenwald, M. (2018). 30 Mind-blowing Health Benefits of Pets. Retrieved from https://bestlifeonline.com/pet-health-benefits/.
Grossman, J. (2002). Pets valuable for coping with stress. Retrieved from https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2002/09/24/Pets-valuable-for-coping-with-stress/48681032871787/?ur3=1.
Hodgson, K., Barton, L., Darling, M. et al (2015). Pets’ impact on your patients’ health: Leveraging benefits and mitigating risk. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 28(4), 526 – 534. doi: https://doi.org/10.3122/jabfm.2015.04.140254.
Levine, G., Allen, K., Braun, L., Christian, H., Friedmann, E., Taubert, K….Lange, R. (2013). Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk. Circulation. 127(23). Doi: https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0b013e31829201e1.
Mccandless, S. G. (n.d.). Top 5 health benefits of owning a pet. Retrieved from http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/no-5-breathe-easier/.
McGuire, J. (2008). College students find comfort in their pets during hard times. Retrieved from https://news.osu.edu/college-students-find-comfort-in-their-pets-during-hard-times/.
As the Editor in Chief, Anna Lengacher helps dog lovers learn the ropes of finding, raising, and caring for their dogs so they can enjoy many happy memories together.