Dogs are a woman’s best friend. You’ve heard this before, and the reasons may seem obvious (they’re cuddly and loyal and don’t judge your Bachelorette binges), but did you know they could also help you lose weight? That, and five more research-backed reasons to add a fluffy buddy to the family below.
THEY PROVIDE SOCIAL SUPPORT
You call him Buddy for a reason. Studies have shown that having a pet can help boost your self-esteem and foster a sense of belonging—especially after experiencing some sort of rejection. Just come back from a bad date? Had a crappy day at work? Some QT with your pup should turn it around.
THEY EASE STRESS
Just petting a dog has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety and increase feelings of calm. In fact, Harvard Medical School brought a registered therapy dog into their offices to help create a happier environment for their employees. (Something you might want to bring up when lobbying for a pet-friendly workplace.)
THEY MAKE YOUR KIDS MORE RESPONSIBLE
Makes sense, right? To take care of a pet means thinking about something (or, ahem, someone) other than you. Research also indicates that kids who feel a strong attachment to their pets reported feeling more connected to their communities and relationships. So the next time your son or daughter begs you for a dog, maybe take that into consideration.
THEY LESSEN ALLERGIES IN CHILDREN
This one sounds a bit counterintuitive given all of the fur and dander, but according to the National Academy of Sciences, kids who grow up with pets (and are thus exposed to common allergens) have a lower risk of developing asthma and allergies to dust, ragweed and, of course, to other animals.
THEY ENCOURAGE YOU TO BE MORE ACTIVE
You’ve heard this before, but it’s true: People who own pets get in more daily activity than those who don’t. In addition to the daily strolls, studies have found that pet owners tend to exercise more often in general.
THEY HELP YOU AGE BETTER
Studies have shown that everything from the companionship dogs provide to the constant care they require helps to lessen any feelings of loneliness and increase a feeling of purpose for people after retirement. The aforementioned increase in physical activity also helps. So go ahead and make a shelter run—it’ll do your body good.