Let’s start this list off with a bang.
1. Dogs can make us resistant to ᴀʟʟᴇʀɢies
This one may sound counterintuitive because there are a lot of folks out there who are ᴀʟʟᴇʀɢic to dogs. If you grow up alongside dogs though, you are increasingly becoming more immune to ᴀʟʟᴇʀɢies according to a recent study. The study showed that children with dogs see a sᴇᴠᴇʀᴇly reduced ʀɪsᴋ (up to 4x lower) of developing other ᴀʟʟᴇʀɢies.
In another remarkable study, researchers found that if a dog was in the house during pregnancy, the newborn children showed two new bacteria in their gut, Ruminococcus and Oscillospira. These newfound bacteria help fight off common ᴀʟʟᴇʀɢies, ᴀsᴛʜᴍᴀ, and ᴏʙᴇsity.
2. Dogs can detect ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇs such as ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ, and potentially save lives
The earliest study that showed dogs could sniff out various forms of ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ was way back in 1989 when The Lancet, a peer-reviewed journal, did a case study that showed a dog repeatedly licking a ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀous mole. Since then there have been many anecdotal stories of dogs sniffing and licking a ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀous ʟᴜᴍᴘ on their owner’s body. Some dogs are now trained specifically to detect ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ, and your dog may be able to save your life one day if they’ve been blessed with a particularly potent nose.
Dogs have also shown the ability to detect ᴅɪᴀʙᴇᴛᴇs by sensing when their owner’s ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ sugar has dropped.
These dogs are trained by being rewarded whenever they detect the ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇ and learn to focus in on only that particular scent. Scientists aren’t sure what exactly the dogs are smelling, but the fact that a dogs nose can detect ᴄᴀɴᴄᴇʀ and ᴅɪᴀʙᴇᴛᴇs is truly incredible.
3. Dogs can help you lose weight
Being a dog owner makes you more active without having to even think about it. The simple act of playing with your dog and going on walks gives your body additional exercise on an ongoing basis. Not to mention the previously mentioned gut micrᴏʙᴇs that help prevent ᴏʙᴇsity. According to a study by Healthy People, walking your dog five days a week for just 20 minutes at a time led to an average weight loss of 14.4 pounds over the course of a year.
4. Being a dog owner increases your happiness
This one seems a little obvious, but now we have studies to back it up. Being a dog owner makes people less likely to be ᴅᴇᴘʀᴇssᴇᴅ, and also helps with social support for those that are already clinically ᴅᴇᴘʀᴇssᴇᴅ. Dog owners showed higher self-esteem, more exercise, less sᴛʀᴇss and were less lonely.
5. Dogs help your immune system fend off sɪᴄᴋness
Decreasing the ʀɪsᴋ of heart ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇ is a pretty amazing benefit, but so is this next one. If you’re a germaphobe though, it might be best to jump to #1 on the list. The logic goes like this, dogs bring all sorts of new bacteria into our homes, and into our bodies. Exposure to these bacteria gives our immune systems a boost in fighting ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇs. So by covering us in germs, dog owners end up getting sɪᴄᴋ less often, and with less sᴇᴠᴇʀity than non-dog owners.
6. Dog owners have increased heart health
Yes, owning a dog helps decrease your ʀɪsᴋ of heart ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇ. According to a study done by Harvard, dog owners showed lower levels of cholesterol and triglyceride than non-dog owners. As heart ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇ is the top cause of ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ among both men and women in the US, this is kind of a big deal.
Studies have also shown lower ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ pressure in dog owners, and this can partially be accounted for by the hormone oxytocin, which is sometimes referred to as the natural love drug. Whenever you interact with your dog, by petting them, even looking into their eyes, the hormone oxytocin is released in higher levels in both parties. This leads to bonding and is a natural de-sᴛʀᴇssor.
7. Growing up with a dog makes kids more empathetic
A 2017 study revealed that pet attachment among 12-year-olds promoted positive attitudes and more compassion towards animals. You shouldn’t be surprised to discover that kids with dogs had the highest scores for pet attachment. The study concluded that, “Attachment to pets has an important role in children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development, mental health, well-being, and quality of life.” It also noted that “dogs may help children to regulate their emotions.”
8. Dogs can help bring out your personality
Part of what makes How I Met My Dog unique is the survey you take when getting matched up with your dog. Based on your answers we can really do a deep dive into what types of dogs will fit best with your personality.
A recent study in England showed a direct link between a dog owner’s personality and the type of dog they owned. The type of dog that you will naturally bond with will tell you a lot about your personality. By getting matched up with a dog that fits your personally you’ll be helping to ensure a positive, fun and mutually beneficial friendship for years to come.
9. Dog owners live longer lives
With all the medical and health benefits we’ve already covered, it should come as no surprise that dog owners live longer lives. The simple benefits of being happier and less sᴛʀᴇssed alone should lead to a longer and more enjoyable life, not to mention the exercise benefits and potential early ᴅɪsᴇᴀsᴇ detection.
According to the study of over 3.4 million people (Sample size large enough? Check!) researchers concluded that being a dog owner reduced the ʀɪsᴋ of ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ by 33 percent.
10. Owning a dog makes you more active
This is another in the “duh” category, but it’s worth pointing out that studies have repeatedly shown that dog owners are more likely to meet their recommended amount of daily activity than non-dog owners.
The simple acts of letting your dog outside, going on walks, and even just having a relaxing playtime session all lead to more exercise for both you and your dog.