Benefits of Dog Ownership
Companion animals deliver proven physical, psychological and health benefits for pet owners and have important benefits for society as a whole. Modern lifestyles can create loneliness, isolation and a sense of vulnerability. Dog ownership provides companionship, gives immense pleasure and reduces stress levels, without the demands of human relationships.
Growing up with a dog assists in the social development of children by improving social skills and self-esteem. Children can learn responsibility, empathy and respect by living with and caring for a dog.
Dogs also help to build social networks within the community, creating opportunities for greater social interaction.
A shared interest in dogs brings together people from all walks of life. Dogs can help to initiate conversations between strangers in public places, or be the basis more for structured social activities such as dog showing and dog obedience classes.
Recognising the Health Benefits of Dog Ownership:
- Dogs are a great stimulus for exercise. Dog owners exercise more!
- Playing with a dog can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm & relax
- People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without dogs
- Dog ownership is associated with lower levels of stress and depression
- Increased psychological well being
- Increased survival after a major illness
- Increased opportunities for social interaction
Benefits to dog ownership, according to research:
- Children who have dogs tend to be more self-reliant, sociable, and less selfish than children without pets
- Elderly people with dogs are better able than non-pet-owning elderly people to cope with daily activities
- Owning a dog gives isolated people a routine, a sense of purpose, and a sense of fulfillment that helps prevent depression and loneliness
- Stroking and patting a dog can be relaxing, which is measured by a slower heart rate and a drop in blood pressure
- Owning a dog can help reduce the risk of asthma
- Dog owners are more likely to survive heart attacks than non-pet owners are
- The presence of a dog can ease the effects of Alzheimer's
- People with dogs have been found to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels when compared to people who do not
Dogs provide a wide range benefits to the sick and disabled, and assist those in need of greater independence e.g. guide dogs for the blind, assistance dogs for the disabled. Dogs are widely used for therapy in hospitals, prisons, psychiatric institutions, nursing homes and schools. Several Australian studies have shown quantifiable links between pets and better health. Owning a dog is associated with better cardiovascular health and lower levels of stress and depression.
Research conducted in Australia and Germany has shown that pet ownership is associated with better human health. Dog and cat owners use the health system less than non-owners; they make fewer annual doctor visits and spend less time in hospital.
Dogs enhance preventative health measures in the community through companionship, stress reduction, exercise and assistance to those who may otherwise depend on Government funded assistance. The long term health benefits of owning pets lead to savings in national health expenditure. For the year 2000, these savings were estimated to be Euros 5.59 billion for Germany and $3.86 billion for Australia.