Harvard has done an extensive collection of studies on dogs. And science has officially proven how much you need a dog in your life and how many benefits they provide us with in terms of physical, emotional, and spiritual health. If you live with a dog, there is every chance that you are already familiar with the relaxing effects of pets on you. You must have been relieved every time you got home, and they happily wagged their tail that you were there. It feels great! Maybe the daily walks helped you lose a few pounds, and perhaps they led you to meet the incredible people in Central Park, who also walked their four-legged friends. If you don’t already share a home with a beautiful puppy, here are ten signs you need a dog in your life – and that you should adopt one today!
1. You Want to Get Healthier
Thanks to a recently published special report from Harvard Medical School, we now have something important to share with skeptics – proof. “Be healthy, get a dog” is the first publication where hundreds of research studies have been compiled from around the world. It documents and proves the physical and psychological benefits that dogs grant their owners. So, if you want to work actively on your health, getting a dog might just be the thing you need.
Combined, these studies provide insight into the extent to which dogs contribute to a healthier and better quality of life – from lower cholesterol levels and improved cardiovascular health to weight loss, better socialization, and a bastion against depression in the long run. The researchers also found that children exposed to two or more dogs or cats during the first year of life had an average of 66 to 77% fewer allergies to common allergens compared to children who were exposed to only one or no pets.
2. You want to live longer
For a dog owner to do their part correctly, it is necessary to sacrifice a little and sometimes do things that they don’t prefer – they have to take the dog for a walk in the rain, heat, sleet, etc. And we all know how harsh New York winters can get. But, as the study showed, walking leads to essential health benefits of owning a dog because the level of physical activity increases. Dogs help us live longer – so far, studies of nearly 4 million people in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK have found that dog ownership is linked to a 24% reduction in deaths from any cause.
3. Losing weight is one of your goals
One of the signs you need a dog in your life could be your weight. In one of the studies, a small experiment was performed – on the one hand, there were 536 dog owners, and on the other, 380 people without dogs. After testing, they determined that people who have a dog are physically fitter, thinner, and less likely to suffer from chronic health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Participants in another “round” had to go for twenty-minute walks with their dogs every day for 20 weeks. The result was that they lost an average of 30 pounds in such a short time. Best of all, in the end, all participants became attached to the dogs, and later, after the end of the program, they continued to practice long walks.
Dogs can be your best partners if you want to lose weight because, after a while, people perceive that dogs on a walk need them, and then they can’t give up. “A dog can only affect you positively. Meanwhile, with people, it can be positively (family and friends), negatively (saboteurs) or inconsistently,” claim Harvard scientists. You can even get creative with all the ways you exercise with your dog.
Also, the study revealed another magic of pups. Dogs help overweight people overcome their discomfort of engaging in physical activity in public.
4. You Feel Too Isolated From the Rest of the World
One of the advantages of owning a dog is that they make us feel less isolated. Dogs draw us into the social world, and they practically guide us to other people who have dogs. More than 70 percent of people surveyed who walk a dog at least once a day interact with people they don’t know. Whatever pet is part of your heart and home, you will surely meet new people who also have pets and connect with them at the pet store, veterinary pharmacy, or vet. It is a beautiful feeling to communicate with people of similar interests, and with pets, it is much simpler because pets are one of the main interests of their owners. After all, isn’t the most important thing, besides health and family, what kind of interpersonal relationships we build?
5. You Need Help Socializing
Suppose you are introverted and find it hard to establish contact with other people. In that case, you will always have a current topic of conversation up your sleeve for every occasion, and that will be your pet.
In addition, dogs help us understand the basic human needs for friendship. Two massive long-term studies that followed people from childhood to old age found that people who were more sociable and spent more time with dogs or other people lived longer. As one of the possible explanations, the scientists offered the answer that people who have dogs feel purposeful and find meaning in dogs’ lives.
6. You’re a Senior that Needs a Companion
There are many indications that dogs are especially beneficial for older people. The report also included a one-year study from Canada, which found that senior dog owners can perform daily activities – such as dressing and feeding – easier without the help of others. Elderly pet owners have frequently told us how empty and lonely their lives would be without the comforting presence of their dogs. Once seniors find the perfect place to live in Manhattan, walking their beloved pet around the new neighborhood often represents the best part of their daily life.
7. You’re a Parent That Wants to Teach Their Kids Responsibility and Compassion
On the other side of the age spectrum, in children, it has been noticed that they learn essential life skills growing up with the dog. Early attachment to dogs can lead to closer relationships with other people later in life. Children who grow up next to dogs have more empathy, feel safer, and have greater social intelligence. As children grow up and become students, the benefits they receive from dogs grow.
Several psychological studies have found that students are more relieved of stress when next to a dog than when they are next to their parents or siblings. And that’s not all. Research has shown that young people in those years disperse depressive thoughts most easily by thinking about their dogs – which leads us to the magic of oxytocin.
8. You Lack a Bit of Joy in Your Daily Life
One of the signs that you need a dog is that your days are a bit gloomy – and you feel like a four-legged friend could fix that. Having a dog can be like having your prescription for oxytocin – you can get your daily dose of medicine indefinitely. Oxytocin inspires positive feelings, known as the “love” and “radiant” hormone. One of the main benefits of having a dog is that it helps us get out of depression and limits the release of the hormone cortisol, i.e., stress. You can get an infusion of oxytocin only by petting your dog, laughing at the silly things they do, or even just looking into their eyes.
Dogs also offer alternatives to meditation and yoga. Every dog walk is practically an exercise and an opportunity to live in the moment. Dogs bring us closer to nature and help us put worries aside. “Let’s not worry about the future or regret the past, but focus on what is happening at that moment – on our dog,” the scientist concluded.
9. You are Financially Stable Enough to Cover All the Expenses
Dogs are a man’s best friend, but they aren’t cheap to have around. They incur costs from puppyhood through adulthood, including food, toys, immunizations, cleaning materials, spaying or neutering, medical visits, and possibly professional training. Bear in mind that accidents can occur, resulting in emergency veterinarian expenses that can be pretty pricey. Many businesses provide pet insurance to help cover some hefty vet expenses with a lower monthly charge.
10. You Have Done Your Research and Feel Like You’re Ready
You have undoubtedly read up on the topic and educated yourself on all the responsibilities that await. You should be honest with yourself and ensure that, even if you do have the time, you are willing to commit yourself to being a caring dog owner. Consider your family, work, and other responsibilities. If you don’t think you’re ready to devote your time and energy to parenting a dog, it might not be the right time to get one.
Final Thoughts on Why You Need a Dog
If you’ve gone through our list of signs that you need a dog and it resonates with you – what are you waiting for? Go get your best friend today. This is your sign!
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