Dog Science: How Our Furry Friends Are More Than Just Good Company


March 24, 2017
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By Jessi Green, Online Media Manager at HMNS

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

Yesterday was National Puppy Day, and here at HMNS, we love our dogs. Even though our furry friends can’t accompany us to work (too many distracting bones in the Paleontology Hall), HMNS employees love to talk about our dogs. We even held a Museum-wide pet costume contest for Take Your Dog to Work Day a few years ago. Like all folks committed to science education, we’re quite ecstatic that science is on our pet-loving side. Owning a dog can do wonders for your mental, emotional and even physical well-being.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

It’s no surprise that petting your pup can be relaxing, but some studies have shown that even as little as fifteen to thirty minutes of petting can lower your blood pressure and your dog’s! Other studies have also linked blood pressure to pet ownership. People who own dogs are also found to have lower blood pressure and less overall stress than those who don’t.

Image courtesy of MaxPixel

Another study, also linked spending time with your furry friend with an increase in serotonin levels. Serotonin is the chemical in your brain that affects mood, and low levels of it have been linked to depression. The study observed serotonin levels of dog owners during interaction with their dog, an unfamiliar dog and a robot dog. The bond between owners and pups was evident because the owners interacting with their dogs experienced increased serotonin levels, while the participants interacting with the robot dog and unfamiliar dog didn’t see that increase.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Dogs can offer great companionship as we grow older. Alzheimer patients who owned an animal experienced fewer anxious outbursts than patients without an animal in their home. Dogs have even been used to comfort sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis and encourage exercise and movement.  

Image courtesy Flickr

And our dogs don’t just improve our lives as we age; they can help us start off our lives right. No, I don’t mean by saving clumsy kids from wells (a la Lassie) or rocking babies to sleep like that famous golden retriever. Children raised in households with dogs were less likely to suffer from allergies and those who did have a dog allergy were less likely to develop eczema, a condition that increases a child’s risk of developing asthma and food allergies.

 

Image courtesy pixabay

 

Pups and the dogs they become can improve our lives inside and out. They force us to be more active and sociable and provide a sense of purpose for their owners (not to mention, they’re so stinking cute!). Has your dog made you happier and healthier? How do you feel the effects of an animal in your life? Leave an answer in the comments!

Authored By Guest Contributor

From distinguished lecturers to scientific scholars to visiting curators to volunteers to leaders in their respective fields, we often invite guest authors to contribute content to our blog. You'll find a wealth of information written by these fascinating individuals as we seek to expand your level of knowledge with every post.

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