The war between cat and dog people is vicious and will probably never end. Here’s some ammunition for the next time you're talking to one of those horrible cat lovers.
1. YOU GET SICK LESS.
If our cleaning commercials are to be believed, humanity is in the midst of a war against germs—and we won’t stop until every single one is dead. In reality, the amount of disinfecting we do is making us sicker; since our bodies are exposed to a less diverse mix of germs, meaning our entire microbiome is messed up. Fortunately, dogs are covered in germs! Having a dog in the house means more diverse bacteria enters the home and gets inside the occupants (one study found “dog-related biodiversity” is especially high on pillowcases.) In turn, people with dogs seem to get ill less frequently and less severely than people—especially children—with cats or no pets.
2. YOU'RE MORE RESISTANT TO ALLERGIES.
While dogs can be one of the worst triggers for people with allergies, growing up in a house with a dog makes children less likely to develop allergies over the course of their lives. Even if you were just a fetus when your mother lived with a dog, you are still less likely to be bothered by animal hair and dander, or to develop eczema as an adult.
3. YOU'LL HAVE BETTER HEART HEALTH.
Everything about owning a dog seems to lend itself to better heart health. Just the act of petting a dog lowers heart rate and blood pressure. A Chinese study found that people who own dogs get better sleep at night and are sick less often. Other studies show pet owners have slightly lower cholesterol and are more likely to survive a heart attack.
4. YOU GET MORE EXERCISE.
While other pets have positive effects on your health as well, dogs have the added benefit of needing to be walked and played with numerous times a day. This means that many dog owners are getting 30 minutes of exercise a day, lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease.
5. YOU'LL BE HAPPIER.
Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than non-pet owners. Even for those people who do become clinically depressed, having a pet to take care of can help them out of a depressive episode. Since taking care of a dog requires a routine and forces you to stay at least a little active, it is harder to stay inside feeling down all the time. The interaction with and love received from a dog can also help people stay positive. Even the mere act of looking at your pet increases the amount of oxytocin, the “feel good” chemical, in the brain.
6. YOU HAVE A MORE ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE.
Polls show people trust others who have dogs more than just random people walking on the street and are more likely to go up and interact with them. Even if you live alone, having a dog has the same emotional benefit as that of a human friendship.
7. YOUR DOG MIGHT BE A CANCER DETECTOR.
Your dog could save your life one day. It seems that our canine friends have the ability to smell cancer in the human body. Stories abound of owners whose dogs kept sniffing or licking a mole or lump on their body so they got it checked out, discovering it was cancerous. The anecdotal evidence was later backed up by scientific studies. Dogs are so good at this that some of them are trained to detect cancer.
8. YOU'LL BE LESS STRESSED AT WORK.
The benefits of bringing a dog to work are so increasingly obvious that more companies are catching on. Studies show that people who interact with a pet while working have lower stress levels throughout the day, while people who do not bring a pet see their stress levels increase over time. Dogs in the office also lead to people taking more breaks, to play with or walk the dog, which makes them more energized when they return to work. This, in turn, has been shown to lead to much greater job satisfaction and productivity.
9. YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOUR PERSONALITY.
The kind of dog you have tells people a lot about your personality. A study in England found a very clear correlation between people’s personalities and what type of dogs they owned; for example, people who owned toy dogs tended to be more intelligent, while owners of utility dogs like Dalmatians and bulldogs were the most conscientious. Other studies have found that dog owners in general are more outgoing and friendly than cat owners. But be careful: Dogs also take on their owners' personality traits, so if you fly off the handle all the time, it might explain why your dog is so aggressive.
10. YOUR KIDS WILL BE MORE EMPATHETIC.
A recent study found that there is no link between pet ownership and empathy in a group of children. But dividing that up, the researchers found that, among pet owners, dog ownership was associated with higher empathy. So why did they find no results for pet owners as a whole? Well, it wasn't helped by cat ownership being associated with lower empathy.
Most children love dogs. They're cute, cuddly, and oh-so-friendly. But did you know that growing up with a dog can actually benefit a child's physical and psychological development? Here are some of the many benefits of dogs being in children's lives.
1. Constant Companionship
Although childhood isn't always easy, having a pet provides constant companionship through the ups and downs. Dogs can be a great source of comfort for kids — even when they're coming to grips with difficult life lessons. Whenever kids feel sad, angry, or afraid, they can always turn to their pet. Petting and cuddling dogs has also been shown to relieve stress and help people relax.
2. A More Active Lifestyle
Caring for a dog also encourages a more active lifestyle. In fact, a recent study showed that kids with dogs exercise eleven minutes a day more than their non-dog owning peers. That might not sound like a lot, but over a week or month, it really adds up. Many dogs require daily walks or runs and plenty of play time. Those adorable puppy eyes they give you are sure to motivate you — even when you're not feeling up to it.
3. Learning Responsibility
Having a pet is a great way to teach responsibility to kids. Making sure that the family dog has food and water gives children a first glimpse of accountability and obligation. Children also learn empathy and compassion by caring for their pet, while developing a higher level of self-esteem by taking care of their pet-owning responsibilities.
4. Health Is Wealth
Recent studies have found that babies raised in close contact with a pet get sick less often in their first year of life, meaning fewer visits to the doctor's office. Exposure to pet dander and the microbes that pets carry into the home from the outdoors is suggested to improve babies' developing immune systems. Research has also found that children who grow up with dogs experience a reduced risk of allergies.
5. Don't Worry, Be Happy!
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of dogs in early childhood is simply that they make children happy! Interaction with animals has been proven to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are the chemical building blocks of positive feelings. All science aside, playing and interacting with dogs is just plain fun — and it's bound to brighten any kid's day.
Just check out this hound and his friend making beautiful music together:
Growing up with a dog can enrich the lives of children in so many ways. Having a dog join your family may be one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids.
Do you have children who are growing up with pets? Share your stories with us in the comments!