This article originally appeared on herepup.com. For a full list of all the ways dogs can make people happier, click here.
There are about a million ways your dog can make you healthier–from lowering your blood pressure to boosting your dating life. There’s actually a science behind it all! Check it out.
1. DOGS ENHANCE YOUR MOOD
We dog people have always kind of just… known that dogs help boost your mood. But did you know there’s good, hard, scientific evidence for it?
Dr. Rebecca Johnson, a nursing professor and associate director at the Center for Animal Wellness, Missouri University College of Veterinary Medicine, conducted a study that measured the hormonal changes in dogs and humans when they interact with each other.
Her team measured hormonal changes in the blood of people interacting with their own dogs, a dog they didn’t know (but how was friendly), and a robotic dog (really).
They found that after 15 minutes, people petting their own dogs experienced significant serotonin (a feel-good chemical) increases, but it stayed the same when petting the unfamiliar dog.
And as for the robot dog? It turns out petting a robot dog actually caused serotonin levels todecrease. So that’s one thing (at least) technology won’t be replacing anytime soon!
2. DOGS HELP LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
An assistant professor of medicine at the University of Buffalo, Dr. Karen Allen, ran anawesome little experiment in which she tested the effects of interacting with a dog on blood pressure.
To do that, she found a group of folks whose jobs probably couldn’t get any more stressful if they were jumping out of airplanes: stockbrokers!
Dr. Allen recorded the blood pressure of a group of 48 stockbrokers, paying specially attention to their readings in stressful situations. A random group of 24 were chosen to interact with a dog as part of their de-stress treatments (all 48 were taking blood pressure medication.
The results probably aren’t surprising to most dog owners: the group who interacted with dogs reported significantly lower blood pressure, and, in fact, the dogs were more effectiveat lowering blood pressure than the drugs!
3. THEY ALSO HELP LOWER CHOLESTEROL & TRIGLYCERIDES
This is one of the most interesting studies, I think, since some of it is so counterintuitive.
A researcher named Erika Friedman published a study in a book called The Waltham Book of Human-Animal Interactions: Benefits and Responsibilities, in which she set out to find connections between pet ownership and human wellness.
Friedman compared 784 pet owners between ages 20 and 59 to a group of 4957 non-pet owners in the same age group. She found that on the whole, pet owners have lower plasma triglyceride levels than non-pet owners (blood pressure, too), and male pet owners have significantly lower cholesterol.
But here’s the crazy thing: pet owners were also more likely to drink alcohol and order takeout food, both of which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
However, pet owners also tended to be more active, which may have contributed to lower numbers (quick note that the point of this part of the study was to point out that lifestyle factors alone did not contribute to the difference in readings, implying that dogs themselves play a factor).
Other Reasons Dogs Make You Happier
Dog owners have healthier hearts
Petting a dog fights depression
They can keep you active
Dogs can even detect cancer
Dogs can detect blood sugar crashes
If you’d like more information on this topic or looking for an internal medicine doctor, contact Dr. Kordonowy at Internal Medicine, Lipids, and Wellness Practice of Fort Myers today at 239-362-3005, Ext. 200. Dr. Kordonowy offers a variety of services with on-site labs.