We all know what it’s like to wake up in the morning with a flood of “to-do” lists and a lack of energy to get it all done. But then, you roll over and find your beloved pet staring up at you, ready for the day ahead! Suddenly, your list of “to-do’s” fades away and your energy starts to kick in as soon as you feel their wet kisses! Now, you feel like your day has a purpose.
Many owners can relate to the happiness they feel when they see the adoration their pets feel for them. And, as professional dog walkers and pet sitters, we know all about how your furry friends can really boost a mood. But is it more than just canine-feline companionship that makes us happy? And, is one pet owner happier than the other? Below, we discuss the science behind how pets, especially dogs, can change our lives (and health) for the better.
1. Can my pet help my heart?
Yes! According to the American Heart Association owning a pet has been linked to lowering blood pressure and even cholesterol! In a study conducted by AHA, 30 participants who suffered from high blood pressure were randomly selected to either adopt a dog, or not to adopt a dog. Over time, the study found that those who adopted dogs had lower blood pressure than those who hadn’t! What’s more, when those that did not adopt a dog, decided to finally do so, their blood pressure dropped as well! Now that’s a PAWS for celebration!
2. Is it true that dogs can smell cancer?
Oh, it’s true all right! Dogs have such a keen sense of smell, they actually have a nose that is 1 million times better than ours! To our surprise, cancer actually has a stench. Cancer cells that have an odor can actually be detected through a person’s skin, breath, urine, feces, and sweat. With training, your own pup can even alert you and others if they recognize the scent of cancer. That’s one life-saving sniffer!
3. Can dogs sense other health problems?
Yep! Dogs can also detect when a person is about to experience a seizure. When trained, dogs can either alert others, move their bodies to protect the human from getting hurt, and can also activate an alarm before the seizure even occurs! Furthermore, dogs are even being trained to detect peanut allergies. With their acute sense of smell, they can help notice the smallest traces of peanut residue and alert their owners in order to avoid life-threatening allergic reactions!
4. Can my pet make me less stressed?
ABSOLUTELY. Owning a dog or a cat can help lessen stress by increasing levels of oxytocin—also called the “love hormone”. This hormone helps calm your nervous system down, promotes feelings of connection and trust, and can lessen the production of our “stress hormone”, cortisol. Oxytocin is released whenever we are petting our canine or feline, snuggling with them, or even when we lock eyes with them! It’s no wonder why us dog walkers are so stress-free! Can my pet help me gain a sense of belonging?
5. Can my pet help me gain a sense of belonging?
Yes. And this is one of the most magical things. Think about a lonely time in your life. Wouldn’t it have been better if you had a furry friend by your side, wagging his tail and giving you slobbery kisses? Having a companion that offers unconditional love is the biggest blessing our pets can offer us. In fact, studies have found that pet owners expressed “higher self-esteem, felt more conscientious, and even bounced back from social rejection better” Further, pets can help you meet more people as you find yourself living a more active lifestyle with your pet. And, let’s face it. Who doesn’t want to approach someone with a cute fur friend?How else can my pup make me happy?
6. How else can my pup make me happy?
Dogs help us get exercise, fresh air, and sun. As we walk our pups, endorphins are released, making us less stressed, anxious, and can also boost self-esteem and even sleep! Getting outdoors with your canine companion is also important, as a lack of Vitamin D—found in sun exposure—has been linked to depression. Don’t believe dogs have the ability to make you more active? Studies show that dog owners are 34% more likely to stick to exercise regimes compared to those who do not own a dog!
Furthermore, in a study conducted by General Social Survey, statistics show that dog owners are actually twice more likely to express their happiness than cat owners are. This survey also shows that cat owners are significantly less likely to express their happiness than even non- pet owners. The big takeaway you ask? Dog owners are statistically happier than cat owners. But don’t worry kitties, we will always love you too! If you’d like more information about this survey, click here!
All in all, both dogs and cats give us more than we can really thank them for. We don’t ask much of them. Yet, they still manage to give us happiness, exercise, companionship, and unconditional love—while saving our lives and protecting our health. As this week is Animal Cruelty Awareness Week, let’s spread the word on just how amazing these animals can be, and let’s never stop showing them our undying gratitude for them! Have any other interesting studies worth mentioning? Comment below!