If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know just what a fulfilling experience it can be. We know they are amazing animals, but what exactly makes a human’s relationship with dogs so unique?

Purina, the food pet company, asks, “Have you noticed a connection between spending time with your dog and feeling more relaxed and less stressed? You’re not alone. Interacting with your dog can lower cortisol levels. You may have heard about a hormone called cortisol, which is released when we’re stressed out, and is often coupled with heightened blood pressure. Over time, these factors can lead to high cholesterol and hypertension. Luckily, reducing stress can be as simple as interacting with a dog, which significantly lowers cortisol levels and improves your immune system’s functions. A study found that when people took care of dogs for just three months, they showed significant drops in blood pressure and reactivity to stress. The days their ambulatory blood pressure fell the lowest were the days they took their dogs to work.

Aaron Katcher, M.D., the emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that because humans evolved solving problems about animals, animals have the power to entrain our attention. “When we are around animals, we become more joyous, communicative, expressive, and calm.””

As such, pet therapy has become a very popular method for people needing to reduce their anxiety, depression, and stress. You know who else gets really, really stressed during exams? College students.

Exams are no joke.

Aside from the obvious physiological advantages to owning a dog, our four-legged friends also teach us about unwavering loyalty and friendship. Not only do they instantly become a part of our family, but they do it in a way that melts our hearts. We know, from genetics, that dogs are pack animals, so it’s in their genes to want to belong. It’s in their genes to be a contributing part of a team and they will do anything to fiercely protect that. This is why they’re instinctively so protective of you and your loved ones.

It’s genetics.

And what about living in this world we live in — this fast-paced, hyper-technological world? Well, this actually may make us long for companionship even more. As per NBC News, Rebecca A. Johnson, Ph.D, director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction at University of Missouri, says that “over time the relationship has gotten closer and closer. Some would relate that to advancements in industrialization and technology. We live in a high-tech, low-touch world and people have a longing for a bond with nature. When we see, touch, hear or talk to our companion animals,” beneficial neurohormones “are released and that induces a sense of goodwill, joy, nurturing and happiness.””

Pretty fascinating. No wonder we love them just as much as we love our kids. I don’t even have kids, but I know I love my dog even more than my non-existing kid.

If you’ve been thinking recently of getting a puppy or dog, I hope this convinces you to pull the trigger. You’ll have a lifelong best friend. Also, please adopt!

 

 

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