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Benefits of Having a Dog

5 min read

Dogs Can Increase Our Happiness and Well-Being

You may sense that hanging out with a dog or even looking at pictures of a dog gives your mood a boost, and there’s proof that it does. A chemical called oxytocin, which has been found to reduce stress, fight depression and create feelings of trust, increases significantly – for humans and dogs alike – when they spend as little as 30 minutes together. Glad the feeling is mutual!



Dog owners were found to experience a spike in oxytocin just from meeting their dogs’ gazes.

The Huffington Post, “The Health Benefits Of Having A Dog.”



Pets Can Be Good for Our Children

  • Teaching kids to care for a puppy can make them more cooperative and generous.
  • When kids imagine how a pet feels, it helps them learn to empathise with their peers and take their feelings into account.
  • Teaching children to confide in their pets as if they were friends can help children recover from trauma.

The New York Times, “HEALTH; Children and Their Pets: Unexpected Psychological Benefits.”

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Pets Can Help Us Deal with Stress

You may have heard about a hormone called cortisol, which is released when we’re stressed out, and is often coupled with heightened blood pressure. Over time, these factors can lead to high cholesterol and hypertension. Luckily, reducing stress can be as simple as interacting with a dog, which may help lower cortisol levels and improve your immune system’s functions.



A study found that when people took care of dogs for just 3 months, they showed significant drops in blood pressure and reactivity to stress.

Karen Allen, Ph.D.; Division of Clinical Pharmacology; Department of Medicine, Millard Fillmore Hospital; 3 Gates Circle, Buffalo, NY 14209; State University of New York at Buffalo. (Presented at the 22nd Annual Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in Seattle, WA; March 24, 2001)



Pets Can Help Us Recover from Trauma

  • They can help us reconnect with our neighbours.
  • They serve as companions when family’s not around, or make our families even closer.

Wisdom, J. P., Saedi, G. A., & Green, C. A. (2009). Another breed of “service” animals: STARS study findings about pet ownership and recovery from serious mental illness. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 79(3), 430-436.

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Pets Keep the Doctor Away

  • A study found that dog owners visit the doctor 8% less frequently than non-owners.
  • Cat owners visited even less – 12% less frequently.

G.L. Jennings, Director, The Alfred & Baker Medical Unit, The Alfred Healthcare Group and The Baker Medical Research Institute. (Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions, Animals, Health and Quality of Life, September 6-9, 1995, Geneva, Switzerland).



Need More Proof? Look to the Wonder Pets in Animal-Assisted Therapy

When pets were present during therapy sessions:

  • Depressed patients were more social and experienced decreases in depression.
  • Children with severe ADHD showed increased attention spans.
  • Autistic or developmentally disabled patients were more social, and showed increased attention spans.
  • Patients with Alzheimer’s experienced decreases in depression and anger, with increased attention spans.

Odendaal, J. S. (2000). Animal assisted therapy: Magic or Medicine? Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 49 (4), 275–280.