What Are Some Benefits of Having a Dog?

Just by owning a dog, you are improving your chances of living a longer life. Consider the statistics. Your chances of having a heart attack are reduced by 4 percent, likely due to more regular exercise. A survey of 1,000 Medicare patients found that 40 percent of all respondents with pets went to the doctor far less often than those without a canine friend around. Nursing homes that have companion animal programs can reduce their usage of prescription drugs. The good news about dogs goes on and on.

Is It Good For Kids To Grow Up With a Dog?

Several compelling studies indicate that dog ownership is particularly beneficial to children.  Furthermore, these positive health impacts are likely to extend into adulthood.

Read on to find out what some of these benefits are, and if you would like to know more, check out our article “Should I Get a Pet for My Child?

Dogs Protect Against Respiratory Infection Linked to Asthma

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, recently conducted a study that found that the house dust from a home with a cat or dog is distinct from the house dust in homes without pets. That in itself is common sense. But when they further investigated the differences, the scientists discovered that microbial agents in the pet-contributed dust contained microbes, which appear to protect against infection. The illness in question is a common respiratory virus associated with the development of asthma in kids.

Kei Fujimura, a researcher on the study, speculates “that microbes within dog-associated house dust may colonize the gastrointestinal tract, modulate immune responses, and protect the host.” A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics supports the overall determination.

Eija Bergroth of Kuopio University Hospital in Finland studied 397 children from their birth onward. A diary was kept for each child during their first year of life. Noted in the diary was the frequency of respiratory symptoms and infections, together with info about dog and cat contacts. Kids that were in contact with dogs and cats had fewer instances of infection.  And, as a result, required fewer antibiotic treatments.

Bergroth and the team suspect that “animal contacts could help to mature the immunologic system.” It’s therefore possible that early exposure to pets stimulates growing human bodies to jumpstart the immune system.  The immune system can then better kick into action to ward off illnesses.  This health boost can extend into adulthood. Some individuals are allergic to pet dander; for these people, the problems probably outweigh the benefits.  Luckily though, most people are not allergic to dogs.

Dogs May Help Prevent Cancer

Marion Vittecoq and Frederic Thomas of the Tour du Valat research center, who have investigated the possible connections between human health and pets, mention a National Institutes of Health Study by G.J. Tranah and the team. It found that dog and cat owners have a reduced risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The longer the duration of pet ownership, the lower the risk that the individual will suffer from this type of cancer.

Could dogs help prevent other types of cancer? Hopefully, future studies can help answer that intriguing question.

Dogs Promote Good Mental Health

So far, we’ve been addressing how dogs can benefit our physical health. Studies also show that canines are good for our mental health too. At Miami University in Ohio and Saint Louis University, psychologists conducted multiple experiments to see how pet ownership affects people. Almost 400 individuals, with pets and without, participated.

“We observed evidence that pet owners fared better, both in terms of well-being outcomes and individual differences than non-owners on several dimensions,” said lead researcher Allen R. McConnell of Miami University in Ohio. “Specifically, pet owners had: greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extroverted, and tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners.”

With a dog, we have the bonus of gaining a new best friend. You probably even consider your dog to be a treasured family member, and for a good reason. “Dogs are among our closest social companions because we have bred them for tameness. Over generations of selection, they have become even more socially compatible with humans,” says Jon Day, a former researcher at Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition. “Such social relationships may be characterized by generally harmonious collaboration under conditions of balanced interests where social partners provide support for each other.”

Day, therefore, touches on the other positive aspects of pet ownership. Benefits such as; comfort, companionship, and a pleasant, vibrant life force to share one’s days with are all positive aspects of pet ownership. Another advantage of dog ownership for children is 

that they are beneficial in improving reading skills. Skills such as reading and speaking are developed simply by reading aloud to dogs.  

Dog Ownership Has Multiple Benefits

The fact that canines may also improve our mental and physical health only adds to why you should pet your dog frequently with joy and gratitude, and maybe even consider adopting another dog.

For further information on the benefits of kids growing up with dogs, including how to prepare your child for dog ownership, see our article “Should I Get a Pet for My Child?

Article written by Author: Jennifer Viegas

Is It Good For Kids To Grow Up With a Dog thedogdaily.com

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