The Health Boosting Power of Dogs

The Health Boosting Power of Dogs

Numerous studies all conclude that interactions with pets, specifically dogs, can decrease stress in humans. Anyone with a pet can attest to this, but what is the science behind it all?

kids-dogSimply put, playing with or petting an animal increases levels of oxytocin, which is a natural stress reducing hormone that our bodies produce. To further add to the hormonal benefits, animals can also reduce the stress hormone called cortisol.

Reduced stress has endless benefits on the mind and body. In a 2001 study, researchers established that pet-owning patients with high blood pressure kept their blood pressure lower during times of mental stress than patients without pets.

Other studies suggest that dog owners may also have increased odds of surviving a heart attack.

And in 2008, a group of researchers documented the successful introduction of a shelter dog to Alzheimer’s patients. Patients were given questionnaires, and many responded that engaging in activities with the dog was beneficial.

To add to the evidence that dogs have a positive effect on our health, children are believed to grow up more confident and perform better in academics if they are raised with a pet. The children are also less likely to suffer from depression. Not only do children love their dog, but they receive enormous amounts of health benefits from their beloved pet.

bbTo recap, here’s how dogs benefit our mental and physical health:

  • Lower stress
  • Decrease high blood pressure
  • Stimulate the mind
  • Provide exercise
  • Decreased chances of suffering from depression
  • Provide companionship

Science has proven that children and adults alike can benefit from playing with dogs. They are a source of calmness and relaxation, and provide stimulation for the brain. We may not have been aware of the science behind the health benefits of owning a dog, but were all aware of one obvious benefit: joy.

 

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