There’s no denying the rush you get when you wake up to your sweet little dog resting his head lightly on your chest waiting for you to wake up. The second you open your eyes, he perks up, his tail begins to wag and he nuzzles you gently to pet him. Aside from boosting your mood, did you know your dog could be prolonging your life, reducing your pain and helping you make friends? Whether you are a proud dog parent or a temporary companion to a dog through hosting on DogVacay, reports have shown that spending time with a dog can be highly beneficial to your physical and mental wellness. Be sure to give Sparky a well-deserved belly rub and read on for the multiple benefits of having a dog.
Your Dog Can Keep you Fit
1. Dogs Can Help You Lose Weight
Many of us are often tempted to stay planted on the sofa in a couch potato stance for hours (or days) at a time. When you have a hyper pup pushing you to take them outside to do their business, there’s little you can do to ignore them. Dogs drive you to get out of the house which leads to more opportunities for physical activity. Whether they’re asking you to throw a ball or Frisbee or chase them around the house, it’s getting you out of your chair and into a healthier body. Also, a gym membership could cost you over $60 dollars a month. Skip the gym, take a run with your dog.
2. Help You Stick to a Routine
As great as it is to sleep in on Saturday mornings, your dog still needs to be let out to do his business. Luckily, sleeping in on weekends, or “Social Jetlag“, might actually be making you fat. When there’s a huge discrepancy between your weekly sleep schedule and your weekend sleep schedule, your body is “basically shuttling back and forth between time zones each week while you’re becoming increasingly sleep-deprived.” People with these kind of differing sleep patterns were three times more likely to be overweight and foggy brained because of the stress it puts on your body. Your dog helps you maintain a regular sleep schedule and as annoying as it is that your trusty Golden Lab wakes you up everyday at 6:30 AM without fail, know that it’s keeping your waistline slim and your mind more alert.
3. Help You Make Better Fitness Decisions
Of course it’d be more fun to spend the day sitting on your couch watching reruns of the “Gilmore Girls” but with a four-year-old Border Collie in your house, you can’t exactly do that peacefully. Dogs need exercise at least twice a day and Border Collie’s specifically need to run at least four to eight miles a day. It’s proven that when you cater to the needs of your dog, you’ll find that you’re making better fitness decisions for yourself. While running or walking your dog, your dog will be a great motivator for you to go just a mile further. Take good care of your dog’s exercise needs and you’ll see how far it takes you!
Your Dog Can Keep You Healthy
1. People with Dogs Live Longer
Owning a pet can add years to your life! One of the first studies in this arena, which appeared in “Public Health Reports” in 1980, showed that the survival rates of heart attack victims who had a pet were 28 percent higher than those of patients who didn’t have an animal companion. The ability of a dog to reduce overall stress levels probably accounts for most of their life-extending qualities but when people know a dog is fully dependent on them, it gives them even more of a will to live.
2. Dogs are Allergy Fighters and Immunity Builders
Kids that grow up in a house with a dog are likely to be healthier, have less allergies and have a stronger immune system. Studies show that living with an animal in the first year of life can be implemental in developing resistance to infectious respiratory illnesses during childhood. Dogs do tend to track different bacterias into the house but this is actually a positive thing, infants that are exposed to certain bacteria tend to build up a stronger immune system and therefore have 44 percent less ear infections and 31 percent less fevers and colds throughout childhood.
3. Dogs Help Reduce Stress and Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Every time you pet your dog, your brain releases oxytocin and serotonin allowing your body to relax, your blood vessels to unconstrict and your cortisol levels to drop. These physiological reactions help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Mindlab International found that “55 percent of people were more relaxed after spending time with their pets–44 percent were also less worried about specific problems such as job security and finance”. Interacting with your dog is a huge stress reducer and can lead to greater satisfaction overall and increases feelings of contentment and relaxation. Also, dogs never sweat the small stuff and interacting with a dog can quickly teach you that sometimes, you just have to relax and enjoy life.
4. Dogs Reduce Anxiety and Pain
Pets can help relieve chronic pain by reducing your level of anxiety. The less anxiety, the less pain. One study from Loyola University found that people who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery may need significantly less pain medication than those who do not. Also, dogs are good at distracting you from your pain which can be great for people with arthritis and other forms of chronic pain.
Your Dog Can Keep You Social
1. Pets can lend you social support and help stave off loneliness
Social support is critical for well-being and there is correlational evidence that having a dog may actually make you a more social person. Whether you’re taking him to the local dog park or for a walk around the block, being outside with your dog creates opportunities to be in contact with people. Also, dogs are a fantastic ice breaker and “social in”, which means people may be more inclined to initiate a conversation with you when you’re with your dog than when you’re not. Furthermore, dogs make for fantastic companions. Dogs are great at picking up your routine, are extremely loyal and are excellent listeners.
2. Improve your Mood and Reduce Depression
Research shows that people who own a dog are less likely to be depressed. It’s pretty much impossible not to break into a smile when you catch your little Frenchie trying and failing to jump onto the sofa. Also, it gives you a reason to wake up in the morning. You can’t exactly stay in bed all day when your 3 month year old puppy is begging you to play with her. Beyond that, studies have shown that petting your dog helps you and your dog release endorphins, flooding your brain with happy chemicals, making this a mutually beneficial relationship.
3. Dogs can Boost Self Esteem
The responsibility of caring for your dog gives you a sense of purpose and makes you feel useful. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that when you feel you have a meaningful existence, it improves your outlook on life and thus boosts your self esteem. Also, your dog is your biggest fan. If you’ve ever left the house briefly to take out the trash and came back to the sight of your dog jumping up and down as if he’d seen a celebrity, you’ll know this is true. Being revered by our dogs is not something to take for granted, it actually helps us feel better about ourselves.
Make sure to show your dog how much you appreciate them by not sending them to a kennel. Leave your dog with one of our amazing DogVacay.com hosts when you’re out of town! We promise he’ll have a vacay he’ll remember forever.