The Effect of Dogs on Human Health

Pet ownership has increased immensely in recent years. Even those who live in small living spaces have taken on some of the smaller breeds of dogs. With dog ownership a common occurrence, it has spurred some questions about why we enjoy the company of animals so much. Dogs are brought into homes for companionship, to guard the premises, and for health service to the disabled. There are dog parks popping up all over the place, even in apartment complexes. There have been studies on the health benefits of owning dogs as well. It may be surprising what a furry friend can do for your health.


There seems to always be an ongoing argument as to whether dogs should sleep in our beds. Some people wouldn’t have it any other way, while others strictly put Fido to bed on the floor. Those that oppose sleeping with their dogs usually claim that they are a health risk due to germs. This theory comes from the reality that dogs walk barefoot through a variety of outdoor areas throughout the day. It seems simple enough to wipe down their feet, however. The benefits of sleeping with your dog can last far into the next day, as you are likely to feel more rested.

Dogs help humans to feel calm and can provide a much better quality of sleep. You are more likely to fall into a deeper sleep with your dog at your side. This may be from a variety of reasons. They keep you warm, provide comforting physical contact, and make you feel safe. It is good for your dog, as well. They are pack animals and would never sleep alone when living with their own kind. They draw comfort from the familiar smells of their owner, as well. For your dog’s health, you should leave a blanket or shirt of yours with them when you board them or are away from home. Sleeping with your dog is good for both of you.

Stress Relief and Service

Dogs are being used more often in recent years as emotional support animals. This is not the same as a service dog, however. These dogs are meant to help their owners stay calm in stressful or emotionally difficult situations. Traditional service dogs help with physical disabilities. They may be able to retrieve medications, help with mobility, or warn of oncoming seizures. Service dogs go everywhere with their humans and help them to complete daily tasks that may have become too difficult for the incapacitated person. These dogs are extremely well-trained to ignore outside stimuli and focus on their task. Service dogs increase the health and quality of life for the humans they serve.

Your dog does not have to be registered as an emotional support animal to help relieve stress. Simply petting your dog can have major health benefits. Both you and your dog release oxytocin when there is positive contact like a pet or cuddle. You can reap these benefits just by sitting with your dog while watching television. Oxytocin is a feel good chemical that is released in the brain during positive human contact. Those that live alone may not experience this often enough and can become anxious or depressed. Many people have these disorders in today’s modern world, and could find some relief by owning a dog. Single parents, elderly living alone, and army veterans are some examples of people that often rely on their animals for stress relief.

Socialization and Exercise 

Not everyone is a natural social butterfly. Many people avoid large groups at all costs. For those that make friends slowly or get nervous meeting new people, a dog can be of great assistance. Dogs force us to get out and meet people. The daily walk around the neighborhood may result in conversations with neighbors as they walk their dogs, as well. Dogs can give you an instant conversation starter. These walks also initiate exercise that you may not otherwise get. A brisk walk with your dog can help your heart, weight, and cholesterol levels.

Dogs are excellent companions for those that need help with stress related and physical health disorders. They provide companionship for those living alone, as well. Kids that grow up with dogs are more likely to be compassionate and empathetic towards others, as they have learned to care for a living thing throughout their lives. Sleeping with your dog can help you recover from a rough day with a more restful night of sleep. There are many reasons to own a dog, and your health is one of them.

Editor's Picks

There are very few people on this planet who enjoy their work more than Aner Banner. His friends often readily admit that Aner eats, sleeps, and breaths science 24 hours a day. He is always challenging old methods, proposing new ideas, and seeking to solve difficult problems. Aner spends most of the day imparting his wisdom to the young minds of a small elementary school. Thankfully he has also mastered the art of making science come alive for the future leaders of our nation. He is loved and well respected by students, parents, and faculty alike. His motto forever remains “never stop learning.

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