How Dogs Can Affect Your Health
Most dog owners will be quick to point out that by simply owning their beloved pets, their lives are being lengthened, and that they are far happier and healthier than their pet-less counterparts. However, this fact is not necessarily true, and many of the studies conducted correlating human health with dog ownership may have skewed results due to our inherent love of these animals.
As a species, humans have found companionship with canines for thousands of years. Dogs were believed to have been domesticated prior to 7,000 BC (source). Since then, dogs have become a part of daily life for over 44 million people, in the United States alone! Every person is different, and so the idea that a dog will increase the health and longevity for everyone is not valid. Below are some of the reasons that dogs could be considered either “healthy” or “not healthy.” Remember that every person is different so what may be fine for one person, could be damaging the health of another.
It is estimated that at least 10 million U.S. residents are allergic to dogs and other pets. If you are an allergy sufferer, and you choose to live with a dog, your health is being affected. Your dog allergies could be causing problems with your eyes, nose, ears, throat, and can even cause sleep disorders and problems.
Every dog owner knows that you should expect to be cleaning up after your pet a couple of times each and every day. Coming into contact with the germs found in your dog droppings definitely isn’t going to benefit your health. Some may say that perhaps your immune system is strengthened when you come in contact with the extra germs, but in reality, you are always at risk for picking up an infection or disease that you wouldn’t have gotten had you not become a dog owner.
Stress levels can be lowered when you have a dog, but on the other hand, your stress can be raised because of the added responsibility. Some people really struggle with dog ownership, and find that they may be more stressed because of the added financial burden and time constraints. Dogs can cause stress in other ways, because sometimes they have aggressive tendencies, illness, stubborn streaks, and destructive habits. If your dog is stressing you out, more than relieving your stress, then you probably aren’t seeing very many health benefits.
Exercise is a positively correlated health benefit that is generally done more often by dog owners. However, it has yet to be proven whether or not inherently healthy people are drawn to dogs as exercise buddies. Some dog owners would exercise regardless of their pet ownership, while some owners don’t have an exercise increase at all. Though dog owners are more likely to exercise regularly, a study has yet to be conducted about the causes for the increased exercise. The dog may or may not play a part in the equation.
For those who live alone, a dog can be the ultimate companion. Though many people prefer to be in the company of other humans, there are some who truly are more content with the companionship that their dog provides. For some people, this trait alone makes up for all of the other health issues that dogs may bring with them.
While dogs are generally amazing pets, and could potentially reduce stress in the lives of some owners, we should not solely base our decision to own a dog on the perceived health benefits. Some are more well-suited to reap the health benefits that come with owning a dog, while some may not ever have a health increase from the addition of a canine to their lives.
About the Author
Emma Green is a resident of Southern Utah. She is passionate about dogs, health, and emergency preparedness. You can visit Emma on her blog at emergencyfoodstorage101.com, or on Google+. Feel free to contact her with any questions about dogs or health at firstname.lastname@example.org