Welcoming a pet into your family is a big decision. Many people who are thinking about getting a dog wonder if it’s the right thing to do. Could dogs introduce new bacteria or diseases into their home? The good news is that a dog may improve your family’s health in more ways than one.
Check out how dogs can benefit your teen’s health, so you feel encouraged to go pick out your family’s new best friend. Once you read these proven facts, you may even want to expand your family with two or three dogs.
1. Dogs lower stress levels
People like to joke that teens don’t have much to worry about because they’re young. Most teens don’t have to worry about paying bills, working a full-time job, or caring for other people in the same way that parents do.
While that might be true, teens feel the heavyweight of stress related to their unknown futures, potential college admissions, and undeveloped sense of self. When teens hang out with dogs, it automatically lowers their stress levels because dogs are fun to be around. They’ll never judge your teen and will accept them the way they are, no matter what they’re feeling.
Dogs also can help teens stay calm and give them additional confidence when reading or getting online tutoring.
2. Canine companions reduce depression symptoms
It’s easier for people to talk about struggling with mental illnesses today, especially for young people. Your teen may have been diagnosed with depression or deal with the symptoms every day. When they need a little help, dogs can reduce mild to extreme depressive episodes and give your teen something to focus on. Your dog’s smile and snuggles will help ease your teen out of their depression and help them feel better.
3. Help teens get more active
Another teen stereotype is that they sit around all day on their electronics. Even though they may do their fair share of texting and internet surfing, they may stay inside because none of their friends want to get active with them.
Taking care of a dog changes that. Dogs need daily walks so they stimulate and develop their minds, stretch their legs, and go to the bathroom. Place your teens in charge of walking your future dog at least twice a day, and they’ll automatically become more active without being forced into a new sport or after-school commitment.
4. Dogs decrease risk of developing allergies
You might think that kids develop all their allergies while they’re young, but teens can still get new ones too. A family dog could keep your teens from experiencing and living with new allergies.
A recent study by the Medical College of Georiga found that when dogs licked children, the bacteria in their saliva created an immunity to allergens that lowered the risk of children reacting to things like grass, ragweed and dust mites.
That doesn’t mean your teen should let your future dog lick all over their face and mouth, but it does reassure parents that their kids are better off for being around dogs at home.
5. Dogs help lower blood pressure
Some teens may struggle with high blood pressure issues or are at a higher risk of developing them because of their genes. When they spend just 15 minutes around dogs, their blood pressure can drop by nearly 10% because their brain begins producing serotonin and oxytocin. Dogs have a naturally calming presence that makes people happy, which helps health concerns like blood pressure.
Bring home a best friend
Whether you find a puppy through a breeder or adopt a dog at a nearby pet shelter, bringing home, a best friend will help your teens in many ways. Dogs will lower reduce their depression symptoms, prevent them from developing common allergies, and even help them love being more active. Keep these benefits in mind the next time you think about adopting a dog or two!
Emily Folk is a pet blogger and avid dog lover. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.