Dogs are by far the most popular pet in the United States — nearly 50 million households have a canine companion, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) — and it’s not hard to see why! Our furry friends bring us overwhelming joy, comfort and companionship, not to mention an array of surprising health benefits. If you need one more reason to take the plunge from pet admirer to dog park regular, check out the list below!
- Dogs Boost Your Physical Health — By far, one of the most measurable benefits of dog ownership is a pet’s impact on our physical health. Dogs need exercise just like humans do, and they tend to get us out on runs, walks and hikes, which results in improved health for both pup and person. Got yourself a puller? Try investing in a no-pull harness to make walking easier and more enjoyable for both the human and pet partner. How, exactly, do dogs help us stay healthy? Harvard Health reports that pet ownership is good for the heart (figuratively and literally). Research shows that owning a dog is associated with lower levels of blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, which helps keep your heart in great shape.
- Dogs Help Decrease Loneliness and Depression — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pet ownership is connected with decreased feelings of loneliness, anxiety and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While adopting a dog or picking up a fluffy bundle from a breeder won’t magically cure depression or anxiety, many studies show that owning the right pet can help provide some much-needed emotional support and boost results of therapy, medication and other forms of intervention.
- Dogs Help Improve Cognitive Function — Another great reason to add a dog to your family? They may help you keep your mind sharp well into old age. Studies show that pups can help us with memory, recognition and other cognitive functions, perhaps better than any other kind of pet. Interestingly, research indicates that older adult dog owners perform better in recognition memory tests than cat owners do. If you’re looking for a great way to exercise the mind and keep your memory sharp, loving a pet may be the way!
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- Dogs Help Decrease Stress — There’s a reason why so many organizations, court systems and schools have begun to adopt canine emotional support programs. Research shows that simply petting a dog has the power to lower your body’s stress hormones, including cortisol, and raise levels of feel-good hormones like oxytocin. And this has an amazing outcome for pet owners who suffer with everything from mild stress to PTSD and chronic stress disorders. In fact, research from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shows that service dogs can help those with PTSD by decreasing anger and anxiety and improving sleep quality.
- Dogs Help You Connect with Others — One of the most overlooked aspects of dog ownership is its ability to help you make meaningful connections with others. Whether through breed-specific Facebook groups and forums or meeting friends in-person at the dog park, dog owners have a natural tendency to connect with one another. Attending pet fairs, dog shows, competitions or even the local pet boutique is a great way to meet new people and forge bonds with fellow canine fanatics. This means less loneliness and an improved social life for dog owners.
- Dogs Help You Express Your Style — Don’t get us wrong — pets are not accessories, and they should never be treated as such! But that doesn’t mean that owning a pup who you shower with love can’t also help you showcase your own personal style. Whether through an adorable reversible dog harness or a cozy dog hoodie that matches your look, dressing your pup to impress helps you express yourself in a whole new way.
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Dog Ownership Is Not for Everyone
If you’re considering diving headfirst into pet ownership, it’s crucial that you do it for the right reasons. Only get a dog if you feel you’re emotionally and financially ready for the responsibility, as this is a huge commitment that requires a lot of time, money and — most importantly — love. Once you’ve made the decision, make sure to pick up a cute dog harness, a matching collar and more amazing pet accessories from our selection!