Madly In Love With Me: How Having A Dog Helps Build Self-Love!
By: Shilpa Bhim
If you’re anything like me, you love dogs. And what’s not to love - they’re cute and friendly and (wo)man’s best friend!
I appreciate that some of you may not be as head over heels (or paws …) as I am. Fortunately, I’ve got copious amounts of research on my side.
[Disclaimer: I don’t actually own a dog because big city, small apartment life. But there are many dog parks where I live and I may spend a fair bit of time at them …]
Ahem, so now that my little disclaimer if out of the way, keep reading to find out five key reasons why having (or being around) a dog leads to a ton of health benefits and a whole new level of self-love.
Dogs make you happy and keep those stress levels under control
Studies have found that spending just a few minutes cuddling with a dog can help increase oxytocin levels in the brain.
Oxytocin is a powerful feel-good hormone and is known as the antidote to depressive feelings.
Likewise, taking a break to play with or walk a dog helps keep stress levels down - whether you’re busy working or studying.
Some schools and universities have been taking advantage of this in recent years by bringing dogs on campus during exam time to help students keep stress-free and on track while studying.
Dogs keep you fit and active
Well, this one is obvious. With dogs needing to be walked and played with throughout the day, dog owners get plenty of daily exercise.
Exercise pumps blood through your body and to the brain, which helps you think more clearly. It also releases happy hormones like endorphins and serotonin into your body which helps to improve your mood.
In addition to keeping you fit and active, the daily exercise has the added benefit of improving your health. A recent study undertaken in Sweden noted that higher levels of physical activity among dog owners was linked to a reduction in the risk of death and cardiovascular disease.
Dogs make you resistant to allergies and build up your immune system
Growing up in a house with a dog makes children less likely to develop allergies over their lives. In fact, studies have found that even if you were just a fetus when your mother lived with a dog, you are still less likely to be bothered by animal hair or to develop eczema as an adult.
Having a dog in the house also means more diverse bacteria enters your home. As a result, people with dogs seem to get sick less frequently and less severely than people, especially children, with cats or no pets.
Dogs improve your health and may add years to your life
The Swedish researchers I mentioned above found a correlation between dog ownership and longer lives.
The researchers found that dog owners were at less risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. On average, for dog owners living in a multi-person household, their risk of death was reduced by 11 percent, and their risk of cardiovascular disease decreased by 15 percent. For single dog owners, their risk of death decreased by 33 percent.
Dogs keep your social life alive
That’s right - your dog really is your best friend when it comes to expanding your social group.
We all know that dog owners love to stop and chat with fellow dog owners on the street to swap notes and share photos.
In fact, polls show that people trust those who have dogs more than those walking on the street alone. People are more likely to interact with a dog and its owner that they walk past on the street.
Also, can we take a moment to appreciate that dogs make you feel like you are the most special human in the world! Now that should warm your heart right up with a whole lot of (self) love.
By keeping you happy, healthy, active and social having a dog or being around dogs leads to you living your best life in my opinion. So what are you waiting for?! Head down to your local shelter (or dog park) and meet your new best friend.
Shilpa is a freelance health, beauty and travel writer from Melbourne, Australia. When she’s not writing, she’s out and about exploring places around Australia and the world. You can keep up with her adventures over at @skb.ontherun and check out her latest articles here.