Life and Dogs

Or more specifically living a long and healthy life assisted by our dogs!

Recently the Care 2 site published a wonderful item about the real benefits of having a dog in our life when we are the ‘wrong’ side of (fill in your own number!).

So here it is for all you good people. I know without a doubt that there will be many nodding heads out there as the article is being read.

ooOOoo

Owning a Dog May Help You Live Longer

According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 44 percent of Americans own a dog. That is a pretty significant number. In fact, dogs are easily the most popular pet among US pet owners—sorry cat lovers. But what is it that makes dogs so great? Well, they’re fun loving, energetic, make excellent companions and… may actually help you live longer.

A recent Swedish study suggested that owning a dog may be linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. According to the study, owning a dog was associated with a 20 percent reduced risk of overall death and a 23 percent reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The study tracked 3.4 million people over the course of 12 years, including both dog owners and non-dog owners. Interestingly, the effects of dog ownership were most pronounced when subjects lived alone and were the sole caretakers for the dog, as they experienced a 33 percent reduced risk of death.

So what is it that makes dogs so beneficial to our health and our lives? Here are a few theories:

EXERCISE

Dogs need exercise as much as we do, but, oftentimes people prioritize their pup’s needs above their own. Many people would more readily take their dog on a walk than walk alone down the block to get some fresh air and take care of themselves. But lucky for us, exercising a dog means exercising yourself, too! It is well established that regular exercise reduces your likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease. A dog may provide irrefutable motivation to get you off the couch and on a walk, which could be saving your life.

OUTDOOR TIME

Along the same lines, dogs encourage us to get outside more. Being outside reduces stress, can increase vitamin D levels and promotes happiness. It can be easy for us to get lazy and stay snuggled up inside when the weather is less than ideal, but dogs need regular outside access. Our pups encourage us to get outside on a regular basis, which can have a small but significantly healthful impact on overall mood and stress levels.

BENEFICIAL BACTERIA

Having a dog is essentially like consuming a powerful probiotic every single day. Dogs go out in nature, roll in mud and grass, chew on sticks, sniff all sorts of bacteria-ridden substances and then track little microscopic bits of this array of bacteria back into our homes. But that may actually be a good thing. According to the New York Times, “Epidemiological studies show that children who grow up in households with dogs have a lower risk for developing autoimmune illnesses like asthma and allergies — and it may be a result of the diversity of microbes that these animals bring inside our homes.” The wider the spectrum of bacteria we subject ourselves to, the more balanced our own microbiomes will become. Since the microbiome can affect all areas of our health, including the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, the long term health benefits of diverse bacterial populations should not be underestimated. Dogs, and other pets, do an incredible job of strengthening our microbiomes, which has a profound impact on our health.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

There is something to said for the emotional stability a dog provides. Chronic stress has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death, which makes it even more significant that dogs are great at reducing our stress and anxiety levels. They are like our little furry therapists—they are always there for us, through good times and bad, and they always love us indiscriminately. The companionship of a dog and a human is one of the purest, most mutually beneficial relationships one can have. It’s pretty powerful.

Of course, just giving your parents a dog doesn’t mean they will necessarily live longer—especially if they aren’t ‘dog people.’ But for those who are, next time you come home to a wagging tail and a wild tongue, be grateful to your pup pal for all the amazing things they bring to your life.

ooOOoo

Again and again one realises just how incredible it is to have a dog, or several!, in one’s life!

Beautiful animals!

73 thoughts on “Life and Dogs

    1. Know exactly what you mean! Although we don’t go for walks, in the strict sense of word, we do spend a great deal of time doing stuff together outside. Plus, finishing up breakfast, as we do every morning, with all six dogs in the bedroom of which four are on the bed itself. The interest, care and companionship offered by dogs is unmatched!

  1. In my devious little mind I was actually trying to find something in here that I could twist and leverage into selling hubby on getting another dog! To me they are like potato chips, you can’t have just one! hahahaha

  2. Very good advice Paul. It is a good article, but I am not a fan of Care2.
    I used to go there and perhaps part owner, Randy Paynter has some good motives (a tiny bit of advertising revenue does go to some good causes) but there is a board of directors who’s authenticity I question. Gerald Marxman (a former Stanford Professor who also mentored the founder of Bitcoin as well as Randy’s Care2 venture), has enough money that he can give $3,000,000 away at a time to Monmouth College. Frank Koch is another director…and both he and Gerald (former owners of Texas Instruments) have fingers in a lot of pies…mostly drumming up large sums of money. Care2 address is in Redwood, California (part of the Silicon Valley brigade) and in esteemed business offices with the likes of Google, Facebook and other social network giants. Care2 crowd funds, with such tidbits as ‘give $500 – $10,000’ and we’ll ‘feed a kitten’ on your behalf. A $250,000.00 donation, and they will give a year’s worth of water to a child. This is hardly philanthropy…and as an investment, it is nuts. Care2 is built on the vulnerability of kind people, profiting by putting them in line of fire for companies intent on selling their wares. I have seen a lot of bullying tactics by ‘so called administrators’ of the website.
    Also, as with other social media sites, Care2 picks up your personal address book and starts emailing your contacts without your knowledge (similar to Facebook, Linked-In, and other platforms).

    I am not trying to frighten anyone…just to make you aware that Care2 is a money making venture for its creators. It simply is not as philanthropic as you might think.

    1. Colette, that is a very important insight into Care 2. Well done. In the future I will be a lot more careful in terms of what I republish from them. Plus, will do my own research into their background. Thank you!

  3. This is a great piece Paul. I completely agree that I find I’m more willing to get out and exercise or even just take my dog for a walk than I am to do it for myself solo. That is one of the many reason I love having a dog in my life.

    I had no idea about the benefitical bacteria, that is a handy tidbit there. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I didn’t have dogs until adulthood. Although I can agree that they’re a big responsibility and not everyone can and should own a dog, they’re also the most rewarding pet to have. They are truly amazing companions!

  5. Very true! Especially about the added exercise you get having a dog. Without my pack, I may never leave my chair during the day. They keep me active. Some days, a little too active!

  6. I couldn’t imagine my life without having a dog in my house! They are amazing, and kind hearted.. we adopted our fur baby Bear while living in the Caribbean, we take him with us to every country we end up at because he’s a big part of our family and goes everywhere that we do. I love that dogs can bring so many smiles- and yes the benefits, and I love how they look when they get a new toy or treat… so wonderful.

    M & Bear

    http://www.pawprintsandmint.com

  7. Great article! I like how you break down the sections, and also make it eye-catching with that first photo. I also love my dog, even though she is a crazy one. I hope you keep writing!

  8. I agree with all of these theories, but especially exercise! Having a good sized dog (or three) with me makes my walks alone feel a lot safer than if I were alone. Plus, they got me involved in dog agilty, herding, fostering, working with rescue dogs and training. Now, if they would just finance their hobbies.

  9. As a huge dog lover who feel pure joy when seeing and petting dogs, and looking into their eyes, thank you for your post! Dogs are a special part of our lives indeed, and some would even say they ‘save us.’

    1. A very warm welcome to this place. Lovely to see you here. Many, including Jean and me, are adamant that dogs save us, especially psychologically from their unconditional love. Amazing animals! Hope to see you again.

      1. Thank you for the very warm welcome. I will continue to visit this wonderful place. Dog love does save us, in this I truly believe. Thank you for your words and love for the sweet animals that dogs are.

  10. That was a delightful read. I was fascinated by the bit about how dogs bringing in different abnormal microbiomes from outside could possibly lower our risk of developing things like allergies. Yet another reason I’m so glad to have three of my own! Maybe I’ll live three times as long

    1. When we moved to Oregon in 2012 we came with 12 dogs and very sadly we are down to 6. All incredible animals. So far been pretty clear of coughs and colds. But up to our necks in dog hair! 😀

      Anyway, a very warm welcome to this place. Do tell us a little more about your 3 dogs.

    1. Yes, I think that is one of the more interesting aspects of the article. Hope I’m not tempting fate to say that, on balance, Jean and I miss the vast majority of coughs, colds, and sneezes that many others seem to attract and I frequently wonder if that is because we live in (very) close contact with six dogs!

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