Those puppy-dog eyes can make you healthier


January 15, 2016

The benefits of having a dog go beyond companionship.


Having a dog in your life can reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and even ward off life-threatening diseases. We’ve suggested breed types that might be right for you based on your lifestyle and a list of resources in Nashville for adopting a furry friend.

How does Fido keep you healthy?

Studies have shown that petting your pooch releases oxytocin, known as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin reduces the levels of cortisol (“the stress hormone”), lowers blood pressure and increases a person’s pain threshold. A recent study even suggests that when a dog gazes into your eyes, the bonding effect is actually similar to that of mother and infant. The benefits go both ways; Fido gets a nice feel-good dose too. Your pup needs exercise, so that’s another advantage. Regular walks and fresh air are bound to do you good as well.

What size/breed is right for you?

If you’re thinking of getting or adopting a dog, take into account your lifestyle. A large dog listed in the American Kennel Club sporting group (Labrador retriever, springer spaniel) or working group (border collie, Siberian husky) might not be conducive to apartment living unless you are an extremely active individual. However, these dogs do make great companions. Check the AKC toy group or nonsporting group; these groups have breeds that are easy to handle if you’re looking for a companion for grandma or grandpa. Browse by group or use this handy match quiz.

Where should you adopt?

Once you know what sizes and breed types or mixes might be best, you can check out area shelters and rescue groups. These reputable organizations in Nashville can help you through the process.

Crossroads Pets Shop & Adopt — This nonprofit organization helps homeless pets and at-risk young adults. Crossroads provides on-the-job training and housing for youth in need. You can meet Crossroads animals in need of rescue at the store in Germantown.

Bonaparte’s Retreat — Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris founded this rescue program, which takes in animals whose allotted time has elapsed at Metro Animal Care and Control.

East C.A.N. — This East Nashville neighborhood volunteer group fosters homeless animals. You can apply to volunteer as a foster or to adopt a pooch in need of a forever home.

Nashville Humane Association — As one of the city’s oldest rescue organizations, the Nashville Humane Association helps more than 3,300 pets a year find their forever home. Foster and volunteer opportunities are aplenty!

Need to lower your stress levels but don’t have time for a new furry friend? Check out 7 strategies that can help you stress less.