Warning, cuteness overload ahead!
It should come as no surprise that people love dogs. They actually provide humans with many health benefits. To be fair, we’ve put together the cons, as well.
“Cons??” You might ask. Yes, what some might see as a part of life with a dog, others consider deal-breaking drawbacks. But it’s better to educate people before they make the commitment. Too many dogs are abandoned because the owners didn’t expect the bad that comes with the good. Let’s get to some pros first, shall we?
Improved Heart Health
Studies show that dog owners have lower blood pressure.* Pets have a “pet effect,” that provides a calming effect to the owner upon contact. Dog owners in particular generally exercise more, having to walk their pets. The study also shows lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in these individuals, though the reason is still out of reach. When you see animals in hospitals going from patient to patient, there’s a good reason!
“In a 2009 study conducted at the UCLA Medical Center, heart failure patients who came in contact with therapy dogs for 12 minutes a day demonstrated notably reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.” — The Heart Foundation
Companionship & Mental Health
Ask any dog owner. They will emphasize the importance of the support, love and comfort they gain from their furry partners. Humanity seeks companionship. During rough patches in life, we can always find positive feedback from our four-legged friends. They don’t judge or argue. Not only do they instill compassion in us, they also help us develop empathy towards others. Clearly, having a canine can help with loneliness and depression.
“Simply petting an animal can decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol and boost release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, resulting in … elevated mood.” — Marwan Sabbagh, MD, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
See that beautiful individual walking by? Wish you could talk, make a move or just let them know you exist? Breaking the ice can be difficult and awkward. But if you are with your best buddy on a leash in a dog park, it’s as easy as “I like your dog.” Boom! Instant connection and topic of conversation. When you stop to think about every aspect involved in taking care of a dog, it’s a lot! That isn’t a bad thing. All of those daily chores and the seemingly lonely routine is actually something you have in common with another owner! You’ll have conversations that last days, just on the subject of your dog.
Increased Personal Safety
If you want the best alarm system out there, get a dog. Not only do dogs signal you at the first sign of danger, but their presence alone deters any criminal or burglar trying to invade your house. Their loyalty tends to create a fierce sense of protection. If the owner is sad, scared or happy, a dog will sense it. Therefore, they tend to know who to engage or hold back by sensing your attitude towards the would be attacker. There are countless stories of man’s best friend pulling owners out of burning homes or waking up people in the house when there is smoke. It seems that having a personal protector is not a bad idea!
Stress & Responsibility
Much like your health can improve by lowering stress, it can worsen if induced. As mentioned before, stress levels can go down when you have a dog. Just make sure the stress they take away is more than the stress they give. Dogs haven’t been wild for many, many years. They have become children, in one way or another. This is a loss of freedom in many ways. Someone in the house must be home at a specific time (or a few times) every day to walk the dog. They will need food and water replenished many times throughout the day. This is only the basics. Just like people sometimes need companionship, they require it back as well. Leaving a dog alone for a long period of time is not a smart idea. Many will take vengeance and rip up shoes or the sofa. Well, if the owner leaves them that long, perhaps they deserve it!
Many people experience allergies. They can be allergic to almost anything, including the common dogs. This might limit your circle of friends. Allergy sufferers experience hives, rashes, watery eyes and uncontrollable coughing or sneezing. They simply need to be exposed to saliva or dog dander.
“Dogs produce a variety of proteins that cause allergies in some people. The highest concentrations of these proteins are in dog saliva, with lower amounts found in dander and urine.” — Medical News Today
Poop and More Poop
Dog waste has been considered an environmental pollutant since 1991. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put it in the same category as insecticides and oil. The waste can contain millions of bacteria that cause cramps, intestinal illness and even kidney disorders.
It is important to dispose of waste, even when walking a dog outside. Naturally, take proper measures to avoid contact. Many metropolitan neighborhoods have green stands with baggies and containers. Most pet stores also have the necessary supplies.
Much like dogs can protect you with a rigor that’s unprecedented, they can be dangerous, too. Dogs don’t suddenly decide to attack their owners. In fact, it’s usually a root cause that they have little control over. If a dog is in pain but cannot communicate it with the owner, it might snap for a second, much like humans do. Due to their sharp teeth, they can cause damage. They might feel horrible after, though! Also, many dogs rely heavily on smell to recognize their owners. Older dogs with bad vision, might eventually lose their smell and confuse family members as intruders. These moments of violence are rare. They may love us like humans, but they do not think at our cognitive level and make mistakes.
To conclude, being informed is not optional when taking on the responsibility of a life, canine or human. The mental health and safety benefits might be substantial, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Account for allergies, responsibilities and the cost associated with dog ownership before taking in a puppy. Better yet, consider adopting from your local shelter. In any case, no dog should ever be abandoned. If you or anyone you know is having issues with their pets, reach out to the Humane Society for assistance by clicking here.