by Good Dog People July 10, 2022 6 min read

A lot of people got a dog in the pandemic. An October 2021 survey of 1,018 Singaporean pet owners by pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Singapore found that about 30% of the pets were acquired during the pandemic, with nearly half the respondents being first-time owners. Most cited companionship and emotional support as their top reason for owning a dog. In fact, similar dog ownership patterns are seen around the world during the pandemic. Many of us rely on our pets for comfort during times of uncertainty and research suggests that there’s something about our dogs that makes us feel less lonely and anxious. According to research, here are the benefits of having a dog.  

6 Scientific Reasons Why Having a Dog is Awesome!

Dogs make us feel calmer, and less stress

For two years during the pandemic, many of us are forced to keep our distance from each other. As a species, humans thrive on social interactions. Social interactions are essential to every aspect of our health. Plenty of research suggests that social connections make people happier. Satisfying relationships not only make people happy but they are also associated with better health and even longer life. People who are touch-deprived tend to feel more depressed, experience more pain, and are more prone to ill health.

Numerous articles have suggested that hugging your pet on a regular basis can stimulate the release of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, both of which help to relieve depression and can help us feel happier. Even the act of petting your dog can be an effective way to combat anxiety as it creates a calming effect. For busy paw parents, it can be helpful to set aside a few minutes daily to snuggle up with your dog. This may help to calm your mind and provide a positive mental balance.

It’s not an accident that dogs are called “man’s best friend.” To many of us, our pooches are family. They provide unconditional love and companionship. They rarely ask for anything in return, except for some yummy treats! We’re bound to feel less isolated with a soft, understanding, loving being around us. So, occasionally, give your pooch a little yummy treat - The Barkery Something Fishy Fish Biscuits Dog Treats and watch them woof and dance in excitement!  

6 Scientific Reasons Why Having a Dog is Awesome!

Dogs make us happier

A 2009 study in Japan found that gazing into your dog’s eyes raises both your and your dog’s level of oxytocin. Oxytocin is also known as the “cuddle” or the “love” hormone. The effect is very similar to a mother gazing into the eyes of her baby. Oxytocin levels for both mother and child will rise creating a bond between them.

Though more studies are required to truly understand the full effect of this hormone, oxytocin is typically linked to warm, fuzzy feelings. The kind of hormone that makes people feel good and happy. Such a simple action to lift our spirits (and our dogs) - just gaze into your doggy’s eyes.  

6 Scientific Reasons Why Having a Dog is Awesome!

Dogs make us laugh

We have all heard this before – Laughter is the best medicine. One of the most recent studies on laughter shows that laughing with others releases some feel-good chemicals – endorphins - in the brain. These endorphins help to fight off stress and promote a positive mood.

Studies have shown that overall pet owners tend to laugh more than individuals who are not living with companion animals. Given the number of funny cat videos on social media, we would expect that it would be the cat owners who were giggling most frequently. This, however, is not the case. Dog owners, and people who own both cats and dogs, tend to laugh most often.

So, what is it about dogs that makes us laugh? True facts about dogs; they are playful and goofy. They never fail to entertain us with their silliness. Throw them a toy with a squeaker like this Nandog Pet Gear My BFF Chicken Squeaker Toy. They’ll go all goofy and barking mad over the high-pitched peeps and shrieks of this squeaky toy.

One would say that dogs are just born to make us laugh! They seem to have this innate ability to make us giggle and hoot with laughter.  

6 Scientific Reasons Why Having a Dog is Awesome!

Dogs make us healthier

A 2019 British study discovered that dog owners are nearly four times more likely than non-dog owners to meet daily physical activity guidelines. Another study by Uppsala University in Sweden has shown that pet ownership can enhance fitness levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, relieve stress, improve mental and heart health, and boost overall happiness and well-being. Some of these benefits may have to do with the fact that dogs need to be walked, and so dog owners tend to walk more.

Walking doesn’t just make us healthier. It makes our dog healthier too. These walks provide some form of physical and mental stimulation to your dogs. You can find more tips on dog walking here. Unless your dog is trained to walk off the leash, it is best to walk your dog on a leash. A multifunctional leash like this Sputnik Multi-Function (Green) Dog Leash can be worn crossbody for a hands-free experience.

For active dogs (and owners) that appreciate a higher level of physical activity, try the Ruffwear Pacific Ring™ Rope Tug, Fling, Fetch Dog Toy. This is a fetch dog toy designed for zealous fetchers and tuggers, that will encourage active play in both owners and dogs.  

6 Scientific Reasons Why Having a Dog is Awesome!

Dogs make us more sociable

Think about the many times you’ve started a conversation with a total stranger while out walking or waiting on your pooch at the dog park. Walking with a canine companion can make us more approachable and give people a conversation starter. In fact, studies have found that about 40% of dog owners had an easier time making friends. Dogs are the perfect way to get to know strangers and form new friendships.  

6 Scientific Reasons Why Having a Dog is Awesome!

Dogs give us a sense of purpose

Aristotle wrote that finding happiness and fulfilment is achieved “by loving rather than in being loved.” In a study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, elderly who owned a dog reported feeling more satisfied with their social, physical, and emotional state than those without a dog. For these seniors, the need to care for another being offers a reason — a sense of purpose — to get up and do what needs to be done. For many people, young and old, dogs can drive that intention – to live and love again. It could be that having a needy animal confers its own benefits, as loving and caring for another tend to make us happier. People are at their happiest when they feel their lives have a purpose.  

6 Scientific Reasons Why Having a Dog is Awesome!

While owning a dog is a wonderful experience, just make sure you’re ready for the responsibility before getting one. For paw parents, let’s not forget to thank our dogs for all the benefits they bring us. Go ahead, take some time to celebrate your dog. He loves you very much and asks for nothing in return although, he would probably appreciate a doggy ice cream treat (or two!) - PetCubes x Creamier Ice Cream For Dogs (Super Berries).

 

References:
1. Animal (Non-human) Companionship for Adults Aging in Place during COVID-19: A Critical Support, a Source of Concern and Potential for Social Work Responses. https://doi.org/10.1080/01634372.2020.1766631
2. Companion dog acquisition and mental well-being: a community-based three-arm controlled study. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31684914/
3. Dog's gaze at its owner increases owner's urinary oxytocin during social interaction. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19124024/
4. Dog owners are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than people without a dog: An investigation of the association between dog ownership and physical activity levels in a UK community. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-41254-6
5. Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death – a nationwide cohort study. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-16118-6
6. The role of pet dogs in casual conversations of elderly adults. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8412041/
7. A Companion Dog Increases Prosocial Behavior in Work Groups. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08927936.2017.1270595

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Katherine Khoo
KATHERINE KHOO
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients

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