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Almost forty-eight million American households own a dog, and all those households will tell you one thing; “Our dog makes us feel good.” Coming home after a tiring day, leaving home in the morning, feeling depressed, or being bored, you’ll find your dog there to help you through anything.
Dogs have been a companion for humans for thousands of years and are known as mans best friends. Dogs give unconditional love and seem willing to do anything for them. However, is there actual scientific proof that proves that dogs make people feel good?
Studies showing how dogs can help your mood and health. Read here for scientific evidence on whether dogs make people feel good.
Dogs have the same effect on us as babies do. Looking at a dog can make us feel happy as if we were looking at a baby. This is all because of the hormone Oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neurohormone released in the brain that influences our feelings of bonding, recognition, trust, and romantic attachment and inhibits stress hormone release. Oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin are often called the “Happy Hormones.”
Scientists have observed that pets can increase our oxytocin levels. This is why spending time with dogs can make us feel good. One study has shown that interacting with dogs can increase oxytocin levels in both humans and dogs. A 2015 research showed that staring into each other’s eyes could increase oxytocin levels significantly (three hundred percent) in both species.
Oxytocin is a big reason dogs and humans bong so much in such little time as it increases the feelings of trust in both species.
Oxytocin isn’t the only reason that dogs make people happy. Dogs have been shown to have several health benefits on humans, and we all know that a healthy human is a happy human. Let’s look at how dogs improve our lives and moods.
Dogs are there for you even if people are not. The unconditional love and constant emotional support, the idea that another living being is with us, can help us with our feelings of loneliness. An Australian study demonstrated that dogs could reduce loneliness in humans.
The Human Animal Bond Research Institute conducted a survey that showed that eighty-five percent of pet owners believed pets could reduce loneliness.
Illnesses and diseases, especially terminal ones, have their effects on our bodies and our hearts. Although no significant research shows that dogs can cure or treat such illnesses, some studies have shown that dogs can help us cope with them.
A study in New York had cancer patients who got a visit from therapy dogs fifteen minutes before the patients had to go through chemotherapy. The study showed that although the patients did not feel better physically, they had felt better emotionally.
Another study conducted in 2017 showed that people who have AIDS and have a pet dog were less likely to suffer from depression.
If you own a dog, you might live longer than those who don’t. Studies between 1950 and 2019 were reviewed and proved that dog owners had a lower risk of death. That’s because dogs can improve cardiovascular health.
A 2009 study showed that people with pets were at a lower risk of heart -attack death. Another study showed that pet owners had lower blood pressure than those who did not own pets. Some studies have even shown that pet owners had decreased coronary disease risk factors such as cholesterol and triglyceride.
As mentioned before, dogs cause a release of oxytocin hormone in the brain, which has stress inhibiting properties. Many studies have shown how dogs can help with stress and anxiety, some showing that even ten minutes of dog time can have a significant impact.
Therapy dogs have been used for a long time to treat people suffering from stress and anxiety or those going through the atraumatic experience. Therapy golden retrievers were sent to Orlando after the Pulse nightclub shooting to comfort survivors. In 2016, therapy dogs were brought to the U.S. Olympics trials in Omaha to help competitors with their anxiety.
A 2016 study proved that dogs could help college students who were homesick or stressed because of exams.
A recent 2020 study showed that more social people tend to be happier on average than people who are not. Dogs can help us be more social because people with dogs are more likely to go out, even if only for a walk, than people without.
Research shows that forty percent of dog owners made friends more easily than before owning a dog, as dogs are the perfect conversation starter. Another study shows that people with pets are likelier to create deeper connections in their communities and private life.
When you love someone, you want to tend to their needs. An article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science showed that caring for another can make you happy. That’s what dogs do. As stated before, dogs trigger the same response in our brains that babies do. This is because both possess a phenomenon called the “infant schema.”
This phenomenon triggers our innate caretaker’s response, and we want to tend to their needs. However, it’s not something terrible. Taking care of a creature dependent on you can give your life purpose.
Dogs are more than just pets; they are friends. They make people feel good, care for them, and love them. There are a lot of ways that dogs can make people feel good. Granted, taking care of a pet can be difficult at times, but it is rewarding if you do.