We’re going to start with the obvious: There is no Fountain of Youth. While we all want to know the secret to living longer, it may not be as complicated as a magical, chemical elixir, or a hole spewing forth water from the heavens.
It could be as simple as you and your dog sharing your life and space together.
There are studies that suggest that your four-legged friend just might make your life a little longer. But are these studies worth anything? Let’s take a deeper dive into if your dog could help you live a longer life.
Heart of gold
One of the major studies to come out in the past few years that has been the centerpiece of this conversation comes from the American Heart Association (AHA). In the most non-cryptically titled journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, the AHA broke down research on a little over 1100 different studies.
After eliminating most of these, they were left with 15 studies that met the necessary criteria. In these 15 studies, results from nearly 4 million people with dogs were boiled down into the imperative data.
The results were that those of us who are fortunate enough to own a dog are less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, people who owned a dog and suffered from a heart attack or a stroke and survived were more likely to recover from one of these terrible events.
It should be noted that those people who also have human companionship who lived at their same residence also had less of a chance of having trouble with their hearts and, if they did have a cardiac issue or a stroke, they were more likely to recover.
It’s good to know that the relationships that we build will help us in the long run.
Taking the proper steps
We’ve talked about the abstract results of dog ownership on our health, but why do we have such success in these times?
Every day, several times a day, our wonderful pets have certain requirements. Chief among them is the wonderful walk. We go outside in the wind, rain and freezing cold no matter what simply because of their need to use the restroom. They’ve trained us as much as we have them to exercise. It’s this requirement for us and our puppy pals that gives us the extra push to get up and out of our homes.
The AHA advises that we walk about 150 minutes a day to help with our heart health. An average of 20 to 30 minutes a day walking with our dogs definitely fulfills that requirement. But it doesn’t just end there. When we are on our couch trying to focus on the newest Netflix trend and they drop a ball at our feet or have a rope in their mouths, we know it’s time to play. Other hound-less households don’t have the blessing of that interaction.
Without getting into specifics about how a dog regulates your schedule as well as encourages better sleep patterns - just another health benefit of letting a puppy in your home - you’ll definitely see an uptick in how you’ll feel overall.
Don’t stress about it
Depression isn’t a pleasant subject that anyone wants to talk or think about. But it is something that affects over 40 million Americans. It looks like there might be a silver lining to those who are considering or who currently own one or more dogs.
We’ve discussed socializing your dog on several occasions, but the same benefits that make anxiety and aggression either manageable or nonexistent are also beneficial to you. You’re meeting other people and pets on your walks. You’re having to interact with folks on the street. That can reduce stress and assist with depression.
A 2019 poll conducted by AARP and the University of Michigan said that 90% of people with pets help them “enjoy life and feel loved.” That same poll advised that 80% felt less stressed due to their pet. Stress is one of the main contributors to depression. Easing and relieving this is essential to lowering blood pressure.
And this is advantageous for those of you who have family members who may have served in the military too. It’s firmly believed that those veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress can benefit from the employment of service dogs or emotional support animals.
No matter who you are or where you’ve come from, the bottom line is that a dog will help with many health-related ailments, namely stress-related and blood pressure issues.
Love at first sight
Serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. Big words that are important to dog owners (and everyone, actually) everywhere.
Serotonin, a naturally produced chemical needed for brain and nerve health, helps your mood and can help you sleep better. Any time you pick up a frisbee and toss it in the park just to have it fetched by your dog, this releases serotonin.
Want to feel like you’re being rewarded or just feel productive? This is where dopamine comes into play. And we do mean that literally. Just like serotonin, dopamine can be released when you play with your pet pal. Their successes are yours as well. When they accomplish their training or follow your rules without question or confusion, your brain and heart swell with pride.
You might not believe in love at first sight, but love at 45th? That could help you and your pet. Oxytocin, a hormone produced by the hypothalamus, tells the reproductive system that what it’s doing is right.
If you feel great getting a hug? That’s the oxytocin talking. The same thing happens when you lock eyes with your dog. Fur babies might not be such a crazy moniker when you put it in context with your brain processing your dog and your child in very similar fashions!
Live long and prosper
Is the science solid and without question, infallible? Certainly not. It is definitely inconclusive. But it’s good to know that the love and companionship that we share with our canine is worth more than we may even be aware of on the surface. In fact, these studies have shown that people with dogs have a 24% better chance of surviving a catastrophic health issue.
The moments that we share with our puppies don’t live only in that moment in time. They literally give us more and more in the future. That definitely counts for something.
Are you wanting to extend your life with a little bit of furry friendship? You might want to consider one of our adorable doodles to do just that? From Bernedoodles to Golden Mountain Doodles, we have the perfect match to make sure your days are not only long but filled with love.