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Better Together – the many benefits of having a dog

#BetterTogether

There are a lot more benefits to having a Dog than you might think

 

1. You’ll be more active, healthier and exercise more - in a fun way

Walking your Dog help you lose or maintain weight, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and leads to reduced stress. Studies show that people with a dog had lower blood pressure levels than those who did not.

Apart from the exercise benefits for you and you dog, walking (and socialising) your dog is very important for your dog’s well-being and behaviour with other dogs and people.

Dow with lead waiting to go for walk

2. Need a pickup?

Not having a great day? It happens to the best of us.

Pets, especially dogs, help lift our mood and make us feel less lonely. A study in the journal Science found that oxytocin is boosted in both dog and human when a dog owner stares into the dog’s eyes. Oxytocin is one of our body's feel-good chemicals, which also plays an important role in social bonding.

3. Dogs are great stress-busters in all kinds of situations (some unexpected)

It’s widely recognised just how much dogs help in reducing stress levels, whether patting, playing or going for a walk.

This is backed up by many reputable studies, and evidenced in practice by the increasingly widespread use of dogs as therapy dogs in a variety of settings:

a) To help students de-stress at exam times

Dogs are increasingly being used by many third level institutions in Ireland, UK & USA to help students deal with stress at exams.

Dogs with students at exams

b) Therapy Dogs

The use of dogs to help patients in recovery, visit the elderly etc., has also become widespread due to the clear therapeutic benefits especially among those with dementia / Alzheimer’s.

Animal-assisted therapy

This also extends to animal assisted therapy - dogs visiting hospitals to help patients in recovery and sick children better cope with health issues.

A recent article by Health Correspondent Katie Forster in The Independent says that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in the UK is advocating for Dogs and other animals to be allowed into hospitals to help patients recover, and that Southampton Hospital has offered animal therapy for five years, where qualified handler Lyndsey Uglow and golden retriever Leo visit patients three days a week.

Therapy Dog with Elderly Lady

c) Dog-friendly workplaces

This has been found to apply in the workplace also: there are a number of studies showing that dog-friendly workplaces lead to reduced stress, increased productivity, less absenteeism, and improved relationships with co-workers / teambuilding.

Employers also gain a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining top talent as a pet-friendly policy is increasingly a factor among millennials.

See our blog post on #dogfriendly workplaces: http://bit.ly/DogFriendlyWorkplace

Zynga Goog;e Nestle Dog-friendly workplaces

Left to right: Zynga Games, Google, Nestlé Purina Gatwick Paws at Work (PAW) programme

Some other Blogs you might like:

Thinking of getting a Dog for Christmas? Please read this first!

Plan ahead for your pet's care with this downloadable Pet Nup

Pet Insurance Checklist - what to look out for before picking a policy

The Benefits Of Dog Friendly Workplaces For All - Including Employers!

10 Pet Travel Accessories to make travelling with your pet easier, and safer

New York Off Leash Parks and Dog Runs

Central Park - 23 Dog Friendly Areas, Maps, Rules and more

4. Social Capital

Dogs are social beings and great ice-breakers, and this rubs off on their owners. People are more likely to stop and talk with other dog lovers when walking a dog. This can help people make friendships, connect socially with neighbours, make them feel more social and less isolated, and improve psychological well-being and self-esteem.

A recent study by The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition found that:

"Pet owners report stronger neighbourhood social connections than non-pet owners ....were consistently more likely to report social benefits such as helpfulness, friendliness and trust between neighbours. This research adds strength to claims that pet ownership is a valuable and positive feature in community and neighbourhood life."  

Adding to this was "the role of dog walking as a way of greater neighbourhood surveillance and increased perceptions of safety within a community".

5. Dog walking groups

This is a growing trend where dog lovers meet on a regular basis. These can be on an informal basis with friends and neighbours, while some are more structured and take in organised walks, occasionally involving a small fee or charge.

Dog walking group on beach

Dog walkers on West Wittering Beach, November.

A wide variety of dog walks and groups can be found on meetup.com/topics/dog-walks/

This trend can lead to sharing the dog walking / dog sitting as needs arise due to work commitments, travel plans etc., and can also include dog-walking for elderly or infirm neighbours.

6. Health benefits for children

Children in households with dogs are less likely to have allergies. Research shows that living in a home with a dog can result in increased immunity to pet allergies later in life.  A study in Science Daily found that children who grow up with dogs in the home have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema.

7. Dogs are good for children in other ways too

It’s not just about allergies..…

Children with dogs tend to be more empathetic, and also tend to be more popular with their peers and have healthy self-esteem, all of which impact their emotional and social development.

A newly published study by the University of Cambridge adds to increasing evidence that household pets may have a major influence on child development, and could have a positive impact on children’s social skills and emotional well-being.

8. Mental health benefits of dog ownership

Dog owners are less likely to be depressed.

Dog owners who have been diagnosed with clinical depression are likely to be less depressed than people in similar situations without a dog.  Caring for a dog has been found to help relieve symptoms of depression while encouraging people to be more positive.

9. Companionship at every stage of life

Pets positively impact feelings of loneliness and isolation and provide companionship across all generations.

10. Safety & Security

Many people, especially those living on their own, the elderly etc., find great comfort in the physical presence of a dog.

Police authorities recognise dogs as one of the most effective deterrents for would be burglars.

11. 3 Ways Pups Can Improve Seniors Health

Having a dog is a big positive for the elderly as well.

For older adults, owning a dog increases the likelihood of achieving World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels of physical activity according to a recent study conducted by the University of Lincoln and Glasgow Caledonian University in collaboration with Mars Petcare and Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.

Physical activity is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, multiple cancers and depression. This research adds evidence to show that owning a pet dog can help support health as people age.

“Dog owners (study participants were all aged 65 years+) were found to walk over 20 minutes more a day and this additional walking was at a moderate pace” says Dr Philippa Dall, lead researcher. “For good health WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week. Over the course of a week this additional 20 minutes walking each day may in itself be sufficient to meet these guidelines." This equated to approximately 2,760 additional steps per day.

12.  Dogs are for life. Not just for Christmas!!

A dog is a long term commitment.

Choosing a companion that will suit your lifestyle is really important to ensure you can commit to the time and level of care and attention that the dog needs on an everyday basis for the rest of his/her life.

#PetsAtWork

Like to make the case to your boss for adopting a pet-friendly workplace policy?

Check our blog on the many benefits of pet-friendly workplaces, including for Employers!

Like to see more articles like this?

Sign up for our Newsletter (all that’s required is an email address).

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Is your dog getting enough exercise?

Check out this guide from Wiley Pup on the  importance of (the right type and level of) exercise for dogs:

Daily Dog Exercise Needs | Plus 13 Outdoor & Indoor Exercise Ideas that Will Transform Your Dog

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 Sources

http://www.mars.com/docs/default-source/Press-Releases/dog-walking-and-older-adults.pdf?sfvrsn=2

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/therapy-dogs-animals-nurses-let-into-hospitals-help-ill-children-patients-royal-college-of-nursing-a7799471.html

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/award-barcelona-hospital-film-shows-bernard-meunier

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/get-healthy-get-a-dog

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/pets-can-help-their-humans-create-friendships-find-social-support-201505067981

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6232/333

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/therapy-dog-offers-stress-relief-at-work-201107223111

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/03/pet-social-connectedness-young-adult_n_4703790.html

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/PIC/article.cfm?aid=1201

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/pets-can-help-their-humans-create-friendships-find-social-support-201505067981

https://www.waltham.com/news/pets-are-a-childs-best-friend.shtml

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