There are many questions surrounding the elusive puppy, such as “Why am I not hanging out with roughly 20 at this very point in time?” Whether you call them puppies, pups, puppers, puppos, or pupperinos (all are valid), there are very few creatures on this planet that inspire affection and devotion like a lil’ bundle of floof with a boopable snoot. Yes, there are cat people. But dogs are scientific marvels — and not just because they traveled to space 6 years before cats did. (Name a cat you’d trust enough to initiate animal-based space travel. Thought not.)
We know that some of you may have a phobia or may have had incidents with angry or vicious dogs. Not every pooch can be this pooch or this pooch or this pooch. If dogs make you feel anxious, it might not be ideal to have one around all the time.
But if you’re on the fence or you have a partner who won’t let up about getting a pup, science may help you take the leap to becoming a Spontaneous Puppy Parent.
We brought together the research on why dogs are good for you. And we’ll get to it once I can bring myself to close the browser I have open specifically for puppy GIFs.
Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, has links to reduced anxiety, especially for children.Trusted Source A therapy dog is so much more than a friend who brings you someone else’s shoes once in a while. People receiving cancer treatment, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, and folks who are working on their fine motor skills through physical therapy can all benefit from the presence of a furry best friend.Trusted Source Even some academic institutions are taking note. At Miami University, students can take advantage of pet therapy to help them through feelings of homesickness and depression.
Dogs are on call during midterms and finals, when those feelings can reach an all-time high. Professor Pupsky, here to halps.
Sniffing out cancer
Did you know dogs have a sense of smell 1 million times stronger than ours? (Can you even begin to imagine what pizza must smell like to that snoot? I’m not sure whether I want to hang out with dogs or become one at this point. Oh, wait — I just remembered how dogs greet each other. Let’s move on.)
Working dogs use their keen sense of smell to locate bombs and drugs, but amazingly, pups can also sniff out what’s going on inside our bodies. According to a 2006 study, your everyday, average household pooch can be trained to distinguish the differences between the breath of people with breast or lung cancer and people without.Trusted Source A 2011 study found that dogs could be trained to sniff out biomarkers in the urine of people with prostate cancer.Trusted Source As scientists would put it, that’s one heckin’ sniffy doggo.
Want to keep your pooch as happy as they keep you? Learn how to make dog food at home.
Taking us for walkies
If you have a dog, you’ve probably walked them, right? Well, all that walking can add up. One study found that dog owners were 34 percent more likely to get their recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week than people without dogs.Trusted Source And walking is no small potatoes. This low impact exercise can have a big impact on your health.
Here’s what to do if you love puppies so much they make you cry.
Stress balls that love you
(But don’t squeeze them too hard.) Yes, obviously our pets can make us happier — just look at this face. Research shows that interacting with dogs can help reduce stress.Trusted Source. Even something as simple as playing fetch or petting your pup can increase levels of the hug hormone oxytocin in your brain and reduce your production of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.Trusted Source Giving pats to puppers is like a hug for the inside of your body. If dogs aren’t quite your thing, we also found some stress relief measures that won’t pee on your leg.
Hugs better for your blood pressure
Blood pressure might not sound like something you need to be concerned about, but everyone can benefit from keeping their numbers in check. A 2001 study from the AHA found that when pet owners get support from their furry friends, it’s enough to reduce some spikes in blood pressure that mental stress can trigger.Trusted Source We like to think this means we’re that much closer to getting a prescription for puggle snuggles.
A true companion during isolation
Physically distancing from others can be an emotional drain. But are unending days going to bum you out as much if they start with puppy kisses, end with puppy kisses, and have nothing but puppy kisses in between? Probably not. Rejection can sting, but it eases off when you’re greeted with a wagging tail. And science confirms that pets help our sense of belonging. One study found that pet owners reported having higher self-esteem, feeling more conscientious, and being better able to bounce back from social rejection.Trusted Source
Another study suggested that women and single adults experience the most benefits to mental well-being as a result of owning a dog.Trusted Source You need only watch “101 Dalmatians” for the definitive puppy-based meet-cute.
Smoking cessation buddies
Still lighting up but trying to quit the habit? A canine roommate may be just what you need. Plus, they’re not going to hassle you about rent. In a 2008 study, 28 percent of smokers who owned pets said that knowing how smoking would harm their little cohabitants would motivate them to quit.Trusted Source And instinctively saying “BIG STRETCH!” every time your dog yawns is a far healthier habit to get into.
A pal in the borkplace
Bringing your dog to work may positively impact your stress levels on the job, especially if you dog is also wearing a tie. In a 2011 study, employees who brought their furry friends to the office reported lower levels of perceived stress throughout the day.Trusted Source (That being said, the study author’s name is genuinely RT Barker, and I can’t help but feel like a dog infiltrated the lab in a bid to convince their humans to bring them to work.)
If you’d like to spend more of your paid hours with pupperinos, let your manager know how much dogs can help employees — in front of everyone, so there’s added leverage.
A happy immune system
Just petting a dog may be enough to keep that pesky cold away. A small 2004 study found that petting a dog produced greater immune system benefits than petting a stuffed animal or simply sitting quietly.Trusted Source So next time you feel the sniffles coming, reach for the tissues and your trusty sidekick. (Note: Please, please, please do not blow your nose on your dog.)
If you prefer plants to dogs, we found six herbs that can strengthen your immune system.
Sniffer dogs for health problems
Puppers’ super effective snoots aren’t just for finding drugs, guns, or missing people. Their ridiculously high level of smellpower can also help people identify a whole host of health problems. In addition to sniffing out cancer, dogs can be trained to figure out when their human companions are about to experience a seizure.
And for people who struggle with severe peanut allergies, a dog’s extraordinary sense of smell can detect those nuts before their owner has a potential reaction.
Yes, our dogs may get spoiled with treats and cuddles, but they’re the real treat: True companions in health, happiness, derpy expressions, and ecstatic reunions when you return from 5 whole minutes of buying groceries. Getting a pet is a big deal and a lot of work, so if you’re debating adoption, check out this quiz that can help you decide.
But you don’t have to own a pet to reap the benefits of spending time with one — your doggo fix can come from elsewhere. Volunteering at your local animal shelter is a great way to get that dog-to-human contact and make a real difference to a pup in need. You can help them so that they can help others — what a gift to the world. Now, thank goodness all that science is over. Back to the puppy GIFs. For a quick smile, here’s a reminder of what happened when dogs invaded our Instagram a few years back.
Ah, simpler times.