Health benefits of Dogs – Science Says Owning a Labrador Retriever is Good For You
For thousands of years, dogs have been humankind’s faithful companions, but did you know that your Labrador Retriever has more to give than unconditional love? Owning a dog has numerous health benefits, such as long life and happiness, and science can show us how and why.
The Benefits of Owning a Dog – Statistically Speaking
In 2016, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that pet ownership could reduce senior citizens’ harmful stress levels. The social aspects of owning a dog are also highly scored when owners report on their levels of self-esteem, depression, and loneliness, as borne out by this study. [* 1]
A 2017 study published on nature.com [* 2] and a 2019 analysis published on ahajournals.org [* 3] both reveal dog ownership’s potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular-related deaths by more than 24% over those who don’t own a pet.
We can see the statistical importance of owning an American Lab for health benefits, but that doesn’t tell us much about how they keep us healthier, happier and living longer. So, here are seven scientifically validated reasons why you should consider having a Lab puppy in your life.
1. Labrador Retrievers Give You More Reasons for Physical Activity
The Health Benefits of Dogs include your physical health. A Lab puppy is a curious, intelligent animal that likes nothing more than to explore the world around it, and their zest for life and new experiences does not abate at maturity. When you own a Lab, you have more excuses to be active every day.
Just like humans benefit from physical activity, your pet will be happiest when they can get outside for a run or a brisk walk every day. American Labs that receive plenty of exercise are also much easier to live with than animals cooped up 24/7. Exercise is also more fun when you have your loyal Labrador by your side, and probably a little safer as well.
2. Labradors Give You Purpose
When you have another living being to look after, it can give you a sense of purpose. Numerous studies show that purpose is the driving force behind a long and fulfilling life. Atul Gawande, the author of Being Mortal, has a lot to say about how people who believe their life has meaning and value are generally happier.
In one example, Gawande writes about a sad and depressing nursing home bringing joy and a rejuvenated spirit to the residents by introducing plants, animals, and children into their day. The need to feed a dependent animal or water a plant helped to ease the depression of many of the elderly in that facility.
Researchers also completed a study on visiting and resident dogs’ effects on the facility’s residents. The outcome of the study showed that dogs delivered numerous mental and health benefits to the residents. [* 4]
American Labs are social animals in need of love, companionship, and care, which all contribute to fulfilling the requirement for a person’s life to matter. It might seem like a trivial thing to many people, but to a Labrador retriever, the care and attention of their owner is their entire world, and they will reward you with their utmost love and devotion.
3. Dogs Help Reduce Stress Levels
The Health Benefits of Dogs on reducing stress is substantial. Numerous studies have revealed that the simple act of petting an animal shows almost immediate effects with lowered blood pressure and reduced heart rate and breathing. Tense muscles also tend to relax when petting animals.
Labrador retrievers are naturally good-natured and happy, and their enthusiasm for life can be infectious. They will be there at the door with wagging tails and a doggy smile, ready to cheer you up after a hard day at work.
Washington State University found that just ten minutes of petting is all it took to produce noticeable and beneficial physiological changes responsible for stress and harmful levels of cortisol. [* 5]
4. We are More Social with Dogs
People with dogs are perceived as more approachable, and a good-looking American Lab by your side can be a fantastic ice breaker when you’re visiting your local dog park.
If you regularly walk your dog, you probably don’t need a bunch of statistics to prove the point that dogs can make humans more social. Your own anecdotal evidence will be proof enough. However, if you’re new to the idea of owning a Lab puppy, then this study should convince you that a dog can provide an excellent conduit for starting new relationships with your own species. [* 6]
The study results showed that 40% of dog owners believed their dogs to be responsible for making new friendships more likely. Another study at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University discovered that pets strengthened a person’s connection with other humans. [* 7]
5. Dogs Help with Mental Issues
Seniors with mental illnesses receiving long-term care showed improved cognitive function when interacting with dogs. There were also instances where residents with dementia showed a reduction in the frequency of agitated behavior states and improvements in their social interactions. [* 8]
A Japanese study in 2009 found that just staring into your dog’s eyes can raise your oxytocin levels, which is often called the love hormone because of its feel-good mood-altering effects. [* 9]
6. Dogs Can Help You Live Longer
A study in Sweden produced promising results that dog ownership could increase your lifespan. The review was comprehensive because dog registration is mandatory in Sweden, and hospital visits are recorded, so it wasn’t a difficult comparison to make. [* 10]
Perhaps more striking was the revelation that people who lived alone but with a dog reduced the chance of early death by 33% over those who don’t live with a dog.
Many variables can contribute to a longer life, and the study does not clarify what mechanisms are responsible exactly. However, the theory is that dog owners are more likely to visit parks and nature spots and be generally more active.
An intelligent companion like an American Lab undoubtedly gives you more excuses to lead an active life, which plays a significant role in cardiovascular health. Connecting with nature has also been shown to do wonders for mental health and stress levels. [* 11]
7. Dogs Help You Relax
Dogs have been used as part of the treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients. Of course, these dogs have received specialized training, but at less extreme levels of stress, there’s no denying the calming effects of a cuddle with an adorable Lab puppy. Even when fully grown, American Labs will never get tired of the attention and make great listeners.
A new Lab puppy in your life is certainly a big responsibility and also represents a significant financial commitment over the years. However, when you understand that your American Lab also comes with more than a few amazing health benefits, then sharing your life with one is more than worth it.
[* 2] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-16118-6
[* 3] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.119.005554
[* 4] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cggr/2014/623203/
[* 5] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2332858419852592
[* 6] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122085
[* 7] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10888691.2014.864205?journalCode=hads20
[* 8] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/153331750301800610
[* 9] https://www.medicaldaily.com/looking-dogs-eyes-triggers-release-love-hormone-oxytocin-how-dogs-bond-humans-329896
[* 10] https://time.com/5028171/health-benefits-owning-dog/
[* 11] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-resilience/201801/why-connecting-nature-elevates-your-mental-health