Owning a pet (mainly one which you can interact with) has been shown to have some tremendous health and emotional benefits. For the sake of simplicity, this blog will focus on the benefits of owning a dog specifically. Some benefits are more obvious such as getting more exercise with a dog or just having a companion around. Other benefits, however, are less obvious, and in some cases, unexpected.Studies have shown that unlike what many people have been taught, kids living around furry animals have less of a risk of developing allergies and asthma. In a recent study, infants who lived with a dog were less likely to develop pet allergies. Furthermore, they had higher levels of some immune system chemicals leading to a stronger immune system. Dogs also help people to be more social. This is especially true for those who are shy or tend to live a more isolated life. Doing activities with a dog such as going to dog parks or taking the dog on walks in the neighborhood is a great way to strike up conversation and meet new people that you otherwise would never have given a second glance. Stress is a major source of disease in our society. When our bodies are constantly in stress mode, we produce a high level of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been linked to weight gain, decreased immune system, and plaque build-up leading to heart disease. Having a dog can significantly lower stress levels and also elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which helps to improve your mood by activating the pleasure centers of the brain. Having pets, in general, teaches us to be better people. Having the responsibility of owning a dog teaches us to be more patient, caring, loving, committed, and selfless among other positive traits associated with caring for an animal. We are very fortunate to be able to take advantage of the physical and mental health benefits that come from owning pets.
*Some information for this blog was taken from WebMD