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10 Scientific Benefits of Being a Dog Owner

Just about anyone can benefit from having a dog, even cat owners!

So whether you're flying solo, a couple, young family or an empty-nester read on to know how owning a dog can benefit your physical and mental health.

You Get Sick Less Often

Woman with a dog

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The current pandemic has highlighted just how real, dangerous and deadly viruses are. Its no more some distant culture, country or continent that's impacted but a World-wide issue where humanity is in the midst of a war against germs—and we shouldn't stop until every single one is dead.

In reality, the amount of disinfecting we do is making us sicker; since our bodies are exposed to a less diverse mix of germs, our entire microbiomes messed up.

Fortunately, dogs are covered in germs! Having a dog in the house means more diverse bacteria enters the home and gets inside the occupants (one study found "dog-related biodiversity" is especially high on pillowcases). In turn, people with dogs seem to get ill less frequently and less severely than people—especially children—with cats or no pets.

You're More Resistant To Allergies

Dog playing on bed with mum and child

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There are a few common triggers of allergies that can impact all of us especially as we age, our bodies react in unfamiliar ways. 

While dog dander can be a trigger for people with allergies, growing up in a house with a dog makes children less likely to develop allergies over the course of their lives.

And the benefits can start during gestation; a 2017 study published in the journal Microbiome found that a bacterial exchange happened between women who lived with pets (largely dogs) during pregnancy and their children, regardless of type of birth or whether the child was breastfed, and even if the pet was not in the home after the birth of the child.

Those children tested had two bacteria, Ruminococcusand Oscillospira, that reduce the risk of common allergies, asthma, and obesity, and they were less likely to develop eczema.

You'll Have Better Heart Health

Yoga with your dog can help your heart and health

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Everything about owning a dog seems to lend itself to better heart health. Just the act of petting a dog lowers heart rate and blood pressure.

A 2017 Chinese study found a link between dog ownership and reduced risk of coronary artery disease, while other studies show pet owners have slightly lower cholesterol and are more likely to survive a heart attack.

You Get More Exercise

Exercising with your dog on daily walk, jog, run, hike or cycle

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Dogs are curious and active, so getting out with them on a daily basis whether it's a walk, jog, run, hike or cycle will help both you and them keep fit.

While other pets have positive effects on your health as well, dogs have the added benefit of needing to be walked and played with numerous times a day. This means that many dog owners are getting 30 minutes of exercise a day, lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Sometimes getting on the treadmill or making the trip to the gym can feel like a drag, so forget the treadmill and gym sessions and rather get out with your dog. Not only will this help you both, but you can save on those high monthly gym fees.

If you need new accessories for your playtime with dog, then check our range of collars, leads and harnesses including poop scoops and biodegradable bags.

You'll Be Happier

Dogs can really make you feel better and happy

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Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than non-pet owners. Even for those people who are clinically depressed, having a pet to take care of can help them out of a depressive episode.

Since taking care of a dog requires a routine and forces you to stay at least a little active, dog owners are more likely to interact with others and have an increased sense of well-being while tending to their pet.

The interaction with and love received from a dog can also help people stay positive. Even the mere act of looking at your pet increases the amount of oxytocin, the "feel good" chemical, in the brain.

You Have A More Active Social Life

Owning a dog can help your social life

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Not only does dog ownership indirectly tell others that you're trustworthy, your trusty companion can help facilitate friendships and social networks.

So whether you're growing your social circle through your daily dog walks in your suburb or local park or the dog training and obedience classes, the net effect is a positive result on your social interaction. 

A 2015 study published in PLOS One found that dogs can be both the catalyst for sparking new relationships and also the means for keeping social networks thriving. One study even showed that those with dogs also had closer and more supportive relationships with the people in their lives.

Your Dog Might Be A Cancer Detector

Dogs can help detect diseases

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Your dog could save your life one day: It seems that our canine friends have the ability to smell cancer in the human body. Stories abound of owners whose dogs kept sniffing or licking a mole or lump on their body so they got it checked out, discovering it was cancerous.

The anecdotal evidence has been backed up by scientific studies, and some dogs are now trained to detect cancer.

You'll Be Less Stressed At Work

Dog at work can help reduce stress

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Through the lockdown, we were confined to working from home which resulted in us spending more time with our pets, but if your normally take your dog to your place of work, you would have noticed an obvious reduction in your stress levels.

The benefits of bringing a dog to work are so increasingly obvious that more companies are catching on. Studies show that people who interact with a pet while working have lower stress levels throughout the day, while people who do not bring a pet see their stress levels increase over time.

Dogs in the office also lead to people taking more breaks, to play with or walk the dog, which makes them more energised when they return to work. This, in turn, has been shown to lead to much greater productivity and job satisfaction.

You Can Find Out More About Your Personality

Dogs can help find out more about your personality 

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The kind of dog you have says a lot about your personality. A study in England found a very clear correlation between people's personalities and what type of dogs they owned; for example, people who owned toy dogs tended to be more intelligent, while owners of utility dogs like Dalmatians and bulldogs were the most conscientious.

Other studies have found that dog owners in general are more outgoing and friendly than cat owners.

Your Kids Will Be More Empathetic

Child in wheelbarrow playing with dog

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Though one 2003 study found that there was no link between pet ownership and empathy in a group of children, a 2017 study of 1000 7- to 12-year-olds found that pet attachment of any kind encouraged compassion and positive attitudes toward animals, which promoted better well-being for both the child and the pet.

Children with dogs scored the highest for pet attachment, and the study notes that "dogs may help children to regulate their emotions because they can trigger and respond to a child's attachment related behaviour." And, of course, only one pet will happily play fetch with a toddler.

The above highlights some of the benefits of dog ownership and I'm sure you have you own reasons as well. 

Adapted from original article.

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