Since the start of 2020, dog ownership has been rapidly on the rise, with an estimated two million households within Australia acquiring a pet since the start of the pandemic (according to research released by Animal Medicines Australia). Experts suggest that this increase in pet ownership can in part be explained by a desire for physical touch, but cuddles aren’t the only positive that pet ownership provides. We thought we’d do some research into the other various ways that owning a pet can improve your life.
Even seeing a video of a dog has been found to trigger the release of oxytocin: the hormone linked to emotional bonding, trust, familial love and comfortable contentment. Actually spending time with a dog and forming a bond sees that impact compounded, with dog ownership linked with increased serotonin (the happy hormone) and generally higher levels of reported happiness. Spending time with furry friends has been found to reduce levels of depression, not only by encouraging us to take time outside but through chemical changes in the brain.
Cats are soft and cute and cuddly (when they want to be), but owning a dog comes with the added benefit of providing a necessary routine, which has been found in turn to improve physical and mental wellbeing. Understanding the necessity to walk our dogs regularly, feed them well and provide adequate time outdoors encourages us to make similar decisions for our own wellbeing.
A 2017 study found that owning a dog can reduce our risk of coronary heart disease, not only by encouraging us to walk more frequently, but because of the calming impact that spending time with dogs has on our nervous system.
Having a dog in our home increases the range of bacteria and microbes we’re exposed to, and this in turn improves the health of our internal microbiome. A healthy microbiome is understood to improve everything from digestion to immune health to mental wellbeing.
Simply spending time with a dog has been found to relieve anxiety, by helping us to connect more to the present moment and thus interrupt anxious recurring thought patterns. Additionally, there’s the incidental impact that dog ownership has on our mental wellbeing. While we might be persuaded to set up an Instagram account for our furry friend, owning a dog is likely to reduce the amount of time we spend mindlessly scrolling, which has been proven to exacerbate anxiety. Additionally, we’re more likely to form connections with people in our community, which has been found to improve mental wellbeing and reduce anxiety.
Slightly more woo-woo, but absolutely worth a mention. The concept of vibrational energy is something we’re fascinated by at TCS, and when we heard the theory that spending time with animals raises your vibration, we weren’t surprised. Spending time with animals is thought to bring your vibrational energy to a more expansive level by allowing you to connect with the energy of intentional focus, and with the universal energy of the natural world. Theories around this idea suggest that the most noticeable benefits of spending time with animals will come when you actively appreciate the connection you’re forming with the animal, and as you’re stroking them, playing with them or running with them on the beach, view the scene from the outside to appreciate the collaborative, synergistic nature of the experience.
If this article is the encouragement you need to bring a canine companion into your life, we’d recommend looking into rescuing a dog rather than contributing to the issue of pet overpopulation. Giving a homeless dog a happy home is good for you and for a dog in need, and we’re here to help make dog ownership as sustainable as possible – keep an eye on the TCS Instagram for our favourite planet-friendly pet foods and accessories.
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