Man's best friend

With pet ownership up by 3.2 million households in the UK since the beginning of COVID, we thought it appropriate to celebrate some of the lasting positive impacts brought by our canine companions….

1. They improve our heart health & diet

We all know about the positive mental health benefits that a pet can bring, but a recent studyby St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno found that owning a pet – in particular a dog - can help maintain cardiovascular health, improve blood pressure and help owners to have a better diet. Just try and remember that when you’re removing your tattered new trainers from Fido’s mouth!

2. They help us lose weight

Studies have consistently shown that dog ownership helps us shed the pounds, with one study in the USA showing an average weight loss of around 14 pounds over a year long study. The best bit? Walkers didn’t view dog walking as exercise – but that the dogs “needed us to walk them” – hence why the weight stayed off. Who needs a faddy diet and gym membership when you can have a Labradoodle, Snorkie or Pekapoo?

3. They improve our social life & mental health

From helping make new friends in the park during walk times to helping us de-stress, the benefits of dog ownership are significant. 90% of respondents in a study by the University of Michigan said that having a dog helped them enjoy life and feel loved, with 80% claiming that their pets helped them de-stress.

4. They help battle disease & injury

With a number of dog breeds having a proven ability to literally sniff out cancer and service dogs helping with everything from traumatic brain injury to autism, the unwavering love of a dog can be invaluable – and potentially life saving.

5. They can help reduce allergic sensitivity

Whilst this report from The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology isn’t exactly bedtime reading, the management summary is clear: having pets in the home at the same time as infants has a positive impact and reduces the likelihood of allergic sensitivity in later years.

6. They can enhance childhood

The bond between a child and dog is incredibly powerful. As well as the physical health advantages, the empathy can often have wider physiological and societal benefits. One study showed that children aged five to eight from pet owning families achieved two to three extra weeks of school attendance.

7. They are brilliant companions

OK, so perhaps “man’s best friend” is a cliché, but it’s almost impossible to feel lonely with a canine companion at your feet. Put perfectly by Mark Twain “The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog” – although the wisdom of Snoopy comes a close second with “All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn't a dog.”

8. They are often a reflection of our personality

Whilst there are countless anecdotes about dogs looking like their owners, it seems that pet owners may also share their pet’s personality. In a study at Bath University researchers found a correlation between dog breed and owner personality. The good news if you’ve got a Chihuahua or Yorkshire Terrier? You’re likely to be more intelligent!

9. They help us get sick less often

When you’re fishing something unmentionable from Fido’s mouth, just remember this: him exposing you to more germs than normal will result in you becoming more immune to disease. He’s only doing it because he loves you!

10. You’ll feel safer

The security benefits of having a canine friend with hearing that is literally hundreds of times better than ours can’t be underestimated. But more important than their ability to sound the alarm and reduce the likelihood of burglary is their ability to simply make their owners feel safer, 24/7.