Are dog owners happier?

One of the greatest feelings in the world is when I walk in my front door and am greeted by my dogs - tails wagging, eyes gleaming and voices crying with excitement. It doesn't matter how bad my day has been, when I see, hear, and feel the excitement of their love, all my worries melt away. In fact, dogs are my prescription to fix just about anything that ails you. Lonely? Get a dog. Depressed? Get a dog. Bored? Well, you get the idea. Now there is scientific evidence that suggests dogs really are good for your health; they're even used for therapy in hospitals and convalescent homes.

A "Pet" a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Numerous studies have been conducted in recent years that show people who own pets are healthier and visit the doctor less often than those who do not. In fact, a study of Medicare patients showed that those with pets had 21 percent fewer doctor visits than those without pets. Pet owners have also been shown to have lower cholesterol, healthier blood pressure, and a three percent lower mortality rate from heart attacks than non-pet owners.

I'm OK; You're OK

Dogs have been shown to have a positive effect on the psychological well-being of their owners as well. They decrease loneliness, mitigate stress levels, and reduce levels of depression in those who are chronically or terminally ill. When compared to those who do not have pets, dog owners have a higher sense of safety and security when living alone or while walking with their dogs.

Baa, Baa Black Sheepdog

Seniors aren't the only ones who benefit from dog ownership. Children are claiming their share of the perks as well. Those who are exposed to pets in the first 12 months after birth are less likely to develop allergies or asthma later in life. In addition, children who grow up with pets have been shown to have higher self-esteem, are more involved in sports and extracurricular activities, and are more empathetic and social than those who do not have pets.

Don't Worry; Be Happy

"Hum," you might be saying to yourself. This is interesting stuff. But can a dog actually make you happier? According to experts it can. The Delta Society, an organization dedicated to studying the human-pet bond, reports that a study showed "70 percent of families surveyed reported an increase in family happiness and fun subsequent to pet acquisition."

Fun! Now that's what I'm talking about. My advice: If you want to have more fun, get a dog.

Sources:

"Human-Animal Bond Facts," PawsitiveInterAction.com

"Benefits of Therapy Animals & Healthy Reasons to Have a Pet," DeltaSociety.org

More from Cherri:

Who's chasing whom? The truth about cats and dogs

House guests and your pets - Avoiding the great divide

How to approach a shy or timid pet