No disrespect to cat people, but there’s a lot of science-backed benefits to having a dog.
When you dig into the data, the benefits of having a dog can far outweigh the difficulties of owning one, including those puppy years involving potty training hurdles (and puddles) and also vet bills. But there’s no need to worry because dog owners tend to have less medical bills in the long run!
And what a relief, because dog owners also live longer. That’s due in part to how canines take care of us all the way up to the tail-end of our years, providing companionship, motivation to stay mentally and physically fit, and even boosting our immunities thanks to those slobbery kisses.
For a clearer picture of how pups can improve every human’s life from start to finish, we dug up nearly 100 dog and human relationship facts. Some of which may even make the most devoted cat ladies cock their heads, and others that might leave dog owners letting that drool linger on their face for a little bit longer.
No judgment–we’re all pet people here!
Dogs and Men + Dogs and Women
Sure, the whole world has deemed dogs “man’s best friend” but a few studies have debunked this, positing that dogs are a girl’s best friend too. Of course, we’re not here to solve marital disputes about who the dog likes best — though we are inclined to divulge that dogs do reduce divorce. More on that later.
For now, consider the following benefits of having a dog specifically for men and women.
Dogs as Man’s Best Friend
A boost of confidence and a sense of security are some of the biggest benefits of men owning a dog, both of which coincidentally can pay off in relationships.
1. Men are more likely to get someone’s phone number when they have a dog with them. (Anthrozoös)
2. Dogs approach men more than women initially. (Seeker)
3. Men feel more stable in a relationship with a dog than any other humans in their life. (Anthrozoös)
Dogs as Woman’s Best Friend
Women and dogs just get each other, and much of that is due to women being so emotionally intuitive to others’ emotions and especially their dependents — babies and dogs included! What does this mean for women having dogs? A better understanding of one another and greater acceptance of one another as family members.
4. A dog’s gaze (think of those puppy eyes!) induces a release of oxytocin, “the love hormone,” which is linked to a strengthened emotional bond between mothers and babies. (Anthrozoös)
5. Women are more intuitive to dogs’ emotions than men because they have a higher emotional sensitivity. (Royal Society Open Science)
6. Dogs who interact with women are 220% more likely to be treated like people versus dogs who don’t interact with women. (Seattle Times)
7. Single women place more value on how a potential partner interacts with their dog than single men do. (Anthrozoös)
8. Women are more likely to view dogs as members of their family. (Journal of Ethnobiology)
9. Young women who own dogs take fewer days off sick from work. (Social Indicators Research)
10. Women sleep better next to dogs than they do other people. (Anthrozoös)
Dogs and Kids
Whether you consider yourself a parent, a pet parent, or both a parent of a child and pet, it’s wise to know how our pets interact with our kids. In the case of canines, dogs not only can teach kids responsibility, but they also can positively influence their upbringings and boost body immunities.
Dogs Make Kids Healthier
Turns out, there’s a reason kids with dogs use that “dog ate my homework” excuse most in the classroom — because kids with dogs actually are in the classroom most. That’s due in part to some of these ways in which dogs make kids healthier, including by staving off allergies and infections and even sniffing out more serious illnesses in children.
11. Babies exposed to dogs are less likely to develop colds and ear infections as infants. (Pediatrics)
12. Dogs lower a child’s chances of becoming allergic to pets by 33%. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)
13. Babies exposed to dogs are less likely to develop common allergies. (Microbiome)
14. Kids with dogs miss fewer days of school, including sick days. (India Times)
15. Babies exposed to dogs also have reduced risks of eczema and obesity. (Microbiome)
16. Kids with dogs are less likely to develop asthma by the age of 7, if their home has high indoor levels of pet dander. (National Institutes of Health)
17. Dogs can sniff out childhood leukemia. (Mirror)
Dogs Build Good Temperaments in Kids
The jury is still out on whether you can teach an old dog new tricks. But some of these findings indicate any ol’ dog can teach your kids to have a good temperament, including by instilling empathy in kiddos and improving our wee ones’ overall moods.
18. Just one therapy session with a dog can improve the mood of a child with psychiatric disorders. (Anthrozoös)
19. Kids who grow up around dogs have a more positive youth development versus kids who don’t grow up around dogs. (Applied Developmental Science)
20. Kids who grow up with dogs in their homes are found to be more empathetic, especially between the ages of 7–12. (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
21. Dogs make elementary school kids less aggressive and more sensitive. (Frontiers in Psychology)
Dogs Comfort Kids
Therapy dogs are certainly an indication of how canines can comfort any person. But for kids — and especially kids with developmental disorders — dogs can bring them out of their shells.
22. Children with chronic illness cope better with canine companions. (Journal of Patient Experience)
Dogs and Seniors
The benefit of owning a dog only gets better with age. Much of this is due to the fact that dogs can be our most loyal companions when we’re faced with life’s inevitables that can lead to feelings of loneliness and overcoming bereavement. Interestingly, dogs also make the tail ends of our lives more exciting— and even longer-lasting.
Dogs Make Seniors More Active, Physically and Socially
It’s no secret that people who own dogs are more active. This is great for any human but especially seniors with decreased mobility. What’s more, dogs also make seniors more social.
24. Older adults who walk dogs are more likely to accomplish more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise than those who don’t own dogs. (Gerontologist)
25. Dog owners have a 24% lower risk of death from any cause than non-dog owners. (Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes)
26. Dog owners have a lower risk of cardiovascular death because they have lower blood pressure and better responses to stress. (AHA Journals)
27. Dogs increase social interactions between nursing home residents. (Frontiers in Psychology)
28. Older adults who walk dogs experience lower body mass index, fewer daily living limitations, and even fewer doctor visits than those who don’t own dogs. (Gerontologist)
Dogs Improve Seniors’ Psyche
In addition to easing seniors’ bodies into more active states, dogs also can ease older adults’ minds. Consider some of the following ways in which dogs decrease stress and side effects of stress in seniors, plus how canines improve older adults’ cognitive functions.
29. Dogs decrease agitation in seniors with dementia. (American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias)
30. Dogs can soothe Alzheimer’s patients and mitigate emotional flare-ups and aggression, especially in seniors. (University of California at Davis)
31. Nursing home residents report lower levels of stress when a dog lives in the nursing home. (Applied Animal Behavior Science)
32. Owning a pet, including dogs, reduces the harmful effects of stress for senior citizens. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology)
33. Pet therapy, including dog therapy, improves cognitive functions in older adults, especially those in long-term care facilities. (Psychogeriatrics)
Dogs Alleviate Loneliness in Seniors
A sad truth is that seniors experience loneliness the most. In the U.S., older people are more likely to live alone than anywhere else in the world, with 27% of adults ages 60 and older dwelling solo. Moreover, one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered socially isolated. Dogs can do wonders in terms of providing companionship — and even salvaging human relationships.
34. Patients in long-term care facilities are less lonely when they receive regular visits from a dog. ( Journal of the American Medical Directors Association)
35. Isolated elderly women with dogs suffer less from depression than isolated elderly women without dogs. (AIDS Care)
36. Dogs reduce divorce among empty nesters. (Frontiers in Psychology)
Dogs Watch Out for Seniors’ Health
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But for seniors, it’s actually owning a dog that can keep doctor visits at bay. That’s because for older adults, dogs aren’t only companions, they’re watchdogs for our immune systems. Some pups have even been trained to sniff out certain types of cancers and other life-altering diseases.
37. Dog ownership is associated with a 33% lower risk of early death for heart attack survivors living alone. (American Heart Association)
38. Dog-owning seniors on Medicare report fewer doctor contacts than seniors on Medicare who did not own dogs. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology)
39. Dog ownership is associated with a 27% reduced risk of early death for stroke survivors living alone. (American Heart Association)
40. Dogs can be trained to sniff out cancers, including cancers of the skin, bladder, breast, and prostate. (University of Pennsylvania)
Dogs and Humans: 65 More Benefits of Having a Dog
No matter your age or gender, dogs no doubt can make a dog owner’s world go round. And much of this is due to the chemistry between dogs and humans. Believe it or not, dogs can induce feel-good hormones in humans that reduce stress and evoke love. In turn, this benefits our physical health. Essentially, dogs fill our hearts and they strengthen them, too. For further context, just look at these other dog and human relationship facts.
Health Benefits of Having a Dog
Dog owners know that gut feeling that owning a dog is just right. What they might not know, though, is that owning a dog can actually be good for your gut, too. Owning a dog can also be good for your heart and overall health. Beyond the well-known truth that dogs help us get our tails in gear and promote exercise, owning a dog has a wealth of other health benefits for humans. Pore over a sample below. Spoiler: Just petting a dog can be a body boost!
41. Dog owners have stronger immune systems than people who don’t own dogs. (New York Times)
42. Dog owners are more likely to eat a healthy diet than people who don’t own dogs. (Mayo Clinic)
43. Dogs decrease triglyceride levels, which decreases risks of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. (CDC)
44. Dog owners who regularly walk their dogs are less likely to be overweight than people without dogs or dog owners who don’t walk their dogs. (Preventative Medicine)
45. Dogs lower blood pressure, which decreases the risks of heart disease. (CDC)
46. Dog owners are four times more likely than non-dog owners to meet their daily exercise goals. (Scientific Reports)
47. Dogs lower cholesterol, which decreases the risks of heart disease. (CDC)
48. Dogs can help humans lose weight, thanks to required walks which improve heart health, strengthen bones, improve your mood, and lower stress. (Clinical Nursing Research)
49. Petting dogs improves levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that protects our gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tracts from infection. (Psychological Reports)
Mood-Boosting Benefits of Having a Dog
There’s just something about a dog’s happy-go-lucky attitude that puts a smile on our faces. A tail-chasing pooch not only boosts our moods but surveys and studies show dogs and mental health also are positively correlated. Consider some of these findings that prove pups help humans approach the world with their tails up.
50. Dog owners have higher self-esteem. (Psychology Today)
51. Eighty-five percent of people believe interactions with pets reduces loneliness. (Human Animal Bond Research Institute)
52. Dog ownership can reduce feelings of psychological distress, particularly in university students and preadolescents. (BMC Public Health)
53. Petting dogs relaxes us. (Washington State University)
54. Three-quarters of pet owners believe having a dog improves their mental health and also the mental health of family members. (Human Animal Bond Research Institute)
55. Petting dogs for as little as 10 minutes reduces cortisol levels, “the stress hormone.” (Washington State University)
56. Dogs make us more loving, because staring at them raises our levels of oxytocin, “the love hormone.” (Hormones and Behavior)
57. Running improves bad moods, but running with dogs improves bad moods even more. (University of Chichester)
58. Viewing photos of your dog before a task helps you focus more on that task. (PLOS One)
Companionship Benefits of Having a Dog
As a dog lover, you know that, well, you love dogs. But have you ever wondered “why do dogs like humans?” After all, you don’t technically speak the same language, so it’s not like we ask Fido if they want to be our friend. Turns out, dogs understand humans better than you might think. They even can read our facial expressions and also secrete the same “love hormone” oxytocin that we do, which incites bonding.
Bottom line: Dogs and humans can’t resist loving one another, because some of it is just plain chemistry. Look to some of these dog loyalty statistics and research-backed benefits of dog and human companionship — and even affection. That’s right, don’t wipe that dog drool off your face just yet!
59. Dogs decrease feelings of loneliness. (CDC)
60. Just gazing at a dog increases human levels of dopamine, chemicals associated with positive feelings. (Scientific American)
61. Fifty-five percent of Americans would rather quarantine with their dog than their significant other. (Honest Paws)
62. Humans can’t resist caring for dogs, because of their baby-like cuteness. (PLOS One)
63. Humans sleep better with dogs in their bedrooms. (Mayo Clinic)
64. Dogs secrete the same “love hormone” as humans, oxytocin, which contributes to them considering humans as family. (Animals)
65. Dogs can even read our facial expressions. (Learning & Behavior)
66. Ninety-five percent of pet parents believe their dogs love them. (Rover)
67. Kissing dogs could improve your health because it transfers microbes from your dog’s gut. (University of Arizona)
68. Dogs connect the unique smell of their owner to pleasure. (Behavioural Processes)
Social Benefits of Having a Dog
It’s no secret that dogs help us get out of the house and interact with the rest of the world, whether that’s at the dog park, on walks, or even at the airport. Much of this points back to how dogs shape our image. Generally, Fido makes us appear friendlier and more approachable. They can even help us appear more fetching — yep, your furbaby could be the ticket to your next love interest and even help build trust with them.
Consider some of these more fine-point ways dogs help us socialize.
69. Dogs improve responsiveness and helpfulness toward others, especially in patients hospitalized with mental illness. (Frontiers in Psychology)
70. Sixty-three percent of American singletons are tempted to match on a dating app with someone who has a dog in their dating app profile. (Honest Paws)
71. Strangers are more likely to help others — including giving money, sharing phone numbers, and helping pick up dropped coins — when a dog is present. (Anthrozoös)
72. People in wheelchairs with dogs experience more friendly greetings from strangers than when they don’t have a dog. (Anthrozoös)
73. Forty-seven percent of American singletons admit they’re more attracted to dog owners than non-dog owners. (Honest Paws)
74. Dog owners are more likely to get to know people in their neighborhood than people without a dog. (PLOS One)
75. With or without medical conditions, people receive more positive social attention when they have a dog by their side. (Journal of Social Issues )
76. People with dogs are perceived as happier and more relaxed than those without a dog. (Anthrozoös)
77. Dog owners are more likely to receive visits from friends at home. (Applied Animal Behaviour Science )
78. Fifty percent of American singletons would use their dog as a ploy to meet someone they were attracted to while socializing or out with friends. (Honest Paws)
79. Forty percent of dog owners have an easier time making friends than non-dog owners. (PLOS One)
80. Dog walks invoke social interactions. (British Journal of Psychology)
81. Fifty-two percent of American singletons are more likely to go on a virtual date if a dog is involved. (Honest Paws)
82. Dogs improve social skills of prison inmates. (Frontiers in Psychology)
83. People trust therapists and are more willing to discuss personal matters with them when that therapist has a dog with them. (Anthrozoös)
Medical Benefits of Having a Dog
By now, you’ve probably realized dogs are not just pets. They can be our best companions. They also can be our biggest support system. Just consider how college campuses, hospitals, and nursing homes utilize therapy dogs to quell peoples’ nerves. Consider also the concept of service dogs and how they’re trained to help us. Pore over some dog and human relationship facts that double as medical marvels.
84. Dogs can be trained to detect human melanomas by smell. (American Behavioral Scientist)
85. Dogs help military veterans with PTSD, physiologically and psychologically, by improving their PTSD symptoms and coping skills. (Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine)
86. People with AIDs are less likely to suffer from depression if they own a dog. (JMIR Publications)
87. Dogs benefit people with traumatic brain injuries. (Paws of War)
88. Dog owners are less likely to be on medications. (PLOS One)
89. Owning a dog reduces the risk of death from heart disease by 31%. (Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes)
90. Dogs drop our measures of fear and anxiety after traumas. (Anxiety, Stress, & Coping)
91. Dogs benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis. (The Rheumatologist)
92. Patients with acute schizophrenia see lowered levels of anxiety when in the presence of friendly dogs. (European Journal of Integrative Medicine)
93. Therapy dogs have proven successful in alleviating anhedonia, meaning the inability to feel pleasure, in patients with schizophrenia. (Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics)
94. People with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder see a significant reduction in symptoms when a pet is added to their treatment regimen. (Journal of Psychiatric Research)
95. People who suffer a heart attack are more likely to be alive a year later if they own a dog. (American Journal of Cardiology)
All this to say, owning a pup isn’t a shaggy dog story. That’s because dogs can make us happier, healthier, and ultimately more fulfilled. And whether you’re an almost-dog owner or longtime dog parent, be sure to also go out of your way to show your furbaby a little TLC. After all, humans benefit from having a dog so much, and companionship is a two-way street!