Benefits of Having a Dog During a Pandemic Pet Health by Mark Parker - March 27, 20210 When the pandemic started around a year ago, people had to stay home to avoid getting sick. People initially thought the health crisis would only last for a short time. But after several months passed, it was clear that we’re in this for the long haul. While this type of isolation may affect the mental health of some people, it wasn’t quite true for dog owners who appeared to be healthy and in good spirits. This shows that having a dog at home during a pandemic offers a host of benefits to a person’s physical and mental health. Here are the benefits of having a dog at home. Dogs Keep Us Active Studies have shown that dog owners experience fewer health issues compared to non-dog owners. They also feel healthier even after staying indoors most of the time during the pandemic. Studies have also shown that dog owners didn’t have to visit the doctor as much as non-dog owners. And this did not depend on age, gender, income, and other factors that may affect health. Since dogs like to take walks, dog owners also end up walking with them. It may be around the neighborhood or in the park. This allows them to exercise more compared to non-dog owners. But if you’re planning to take your outside the house, it’s always advisable for them to have gone through dog obedience training school so you won’t have to chase them around if they see a squirrel scampering away after they see the dog. Walking around the park with a dog can lower heart rates, systolic blood pressure, and arterial blood pressure. The dogs are essentially keeping you active. Another factor contributing to better health is the happy and contented feeling a person gets when he or she adopts a dog from an animal shelter. This happy feeling also contributed to the good health of dog owners. It’s also interesting to note that more people were fostering pets during the pandemic. Dogs Take Away Stress Dogs can help reduce stress levels in their owners. A study involving 48 participants showed that a dog could help reduce stress levels in people. The participants were asked to do public speaking and perform complex computations with people watching them. Some participants were alone, while others had dogs with them. The study measured the participants’ cortisol levels before, right after, and around 30 minutes after performing the tasks. While everyone was anxious while working on the tasks, the participants with dogs had lower cortisol levels. Their heart rates were also lower compared to the other participants. This shows that dogs can make a difference in reducing anxiety and stress in a person. Dogs Keep Us Company During the pandemic, a lot of people had to stay home due to their health conditions. They couldn’t go out of their homes since they may easily get infected by the virus. If they’re living alone, they can crave human company and may end up depressed. But having a dog around will stave off any feelings of loneliness, even if a person lives alone in the house. Even though research has focused on the benefits older adults get when they have a dog at home, the situation can apply to everyone in all age groups. People are social animals who always need to have someone to talk to. But the dogs can serve as good substitutes. Many people consider dogs as members of the family since they offer companionship and unconditional love. This is probably the reason why they’re called man’s best friend. Some people even have the feeling that their dogs feel the same way they feel. This points to the situation where people do not feel isolated and lonely when they have a dog. Dogs Help Us Connect with Others Even though people can see each other virtually through video-conferencing apps, they do not have the feeling of being truly connected with family and friends. This physical distance may make it challenging for people to reconnect with their loved ones if the pandemic continues. However, studies have shown that dogs seem to encourage us to connect with other people. Other people see dog owners as friendly and trusting people. They also think dog owners are more cooperative compared to non-dog owners. Due to this, people consider them approachable. When going out for walks, it isn’t unusual for dogs to prod their owners to interact with other people. This allows dog owners to connect with other people, either friends or strangers. Getting through the pandemic if we’re alone is much better if we have a dog since they can help us stay healthy physically and mentally until everything goes back to normal.