“Why do you bother owning a dog?” This is a question dog caretakers are all too familiar with as they scoop poop, remove shed hair off of clothing or walk their dogs in inclement weather. To people who do not own dogs, dogs seem to be a lot of work. But dog owners are not as crazy as they might first appear. There are many demonstrable advantages to owning a dog, and these advantages go far beyond simply being able to spoil your dog with cool dog collars; as we shall see, these advantages clearly prove that dogs are indeed man’s (and woman’s) best friends.
Health Benefits of Dog Ownership
According to a 2007 study done by the Queen’s University in Belfast, living with dogs helps humans lead healthier lives. Because dog need walks and playtime, their humans have to exercise. This exercise helps to maintain good blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Lead researcher, Dr. Deborah Wells, stated that dog owners tended to suffer less from minor injuries and ailments than the rest of the population. Why this happens remains unclear. Dr. Wells thinks that it could be due to the combination of regular exercise and positive feelings of self-worth.
Dogs Raise Self-Esteem
The adoration and companionship that dogs provide may raise a person’s self-esteem. Seeing a dog happy and healthy due to one’s direct actions only reinforces these feelings. A study in 2011 done by the Miami University of Ohio indicated that dog owners had better self-esteem than the general population. The study looked at 217 people, including 56 dog owners.
These people not only had higher self-esteem, but interacted more with other people and were more conscientious of others. These dog owners also felt like they were living a meaningful life. When people have a purpose in life, they tend to be happier.
Dogs Lower Work Stress
Interacting with dogs helps lower stress levels. One of the most stressful places for any human is the workplace. A study done by Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012 tracked the stress levels of workers. They compared the stress levels of those who brought their dogs to work as opposed to those who didn’t. Those that brought their dogs to work consistently had lower stress levels.
Dogs Make Children Healthier
It used to be that parents were encouraged to keep their pets, including dogs, far away from small children. Times have changed. Recent studies show that dog ownership may improve a child’s health. A 2010 study published in the “The Journal of Pediatrics” suggests that children under the age of 4 with eczema, a nasty skin condition, got better when there was a dog in the house.
Children with a known allergy to dogs were four times more likely to get eczema. Owning a cat did help a child’s health as much as owning a dog did.
Dogs Save People Money
There are a lot of expenses associated with owning a dog. These costs are small in comparison to the costs of treating a chronic illness. Interacting with dogs can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. USAToday notes that the annual cost of cholesterol medication is an average of $1825. If a dog owner never gets high cholesterol, then that’s $1825 saved.
When a person has normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the chances of getting a heart attack are greatly reduced. The average cost of treating a heart attack is over $10,800. That does not include the costs of medication, doctor visits or loss of wages from missing work while recovering from a heart attack.