Of all the feuds in human history, one of the most hotly contested topics continues to be this: Which species makes better pets — cats or dogs?
From movies to passionate essays to funny memes, both sides have put out valiant efforts to prove their case. And at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference and lifestyle. Some people might be better suited to cats, while others thrive when a dog is around. But still, scientifically speaking, there are some compelling reasons why dogs are way better than cats.
Next time you find yourself going toe-to-toe with a cat lover, just bring up some of these irrefutable truths to show once and for all that canines are the superior species.
1. Dogs offer unconditional love
Cats are complicated. Dogs are not. A dog will love you every minute of every day.
Scientists at Emory University conducted a study that proved it, too. Using MRI technology, they were able to show the reward center of doggy brains lit up like fireworks when they smelled their owner’s scent. How doggone cute is that?
2. A dog’s sense of smell could save your life
You might know dogs are used on police forces to sniff out bombs and drugs. (Have you ever seen a cat do that?) But you might not know dogs are now being used to help diagnose diseases before they spread too far.
At the University of Pennsylvania’s Working Dog Center, a team of researchers has been training retrievers and shepherds to sniff out ovarian cancer. Early detection for this particular cancer is critical, and if caught in time it has a 90% survival rate.
3. Dogs are always happy to see you
When you walk in from a long day at the office, which would you prefer: an exuberant, tail-wagging greeter or an indignant cat who probably resents you for abandoning him all day and just wants to get fed? No matter how stressful your time away was, coming home to an enthusiastic greeting every night is sure to put a smile on your face, too.
4. Dogs can keep you in shape
Walking your cat? Not so much.
It’s important to take your dogs for walks, so they can do their daily business and get some exercise. But you might not realize taking care of your dog is helping to take care of yourself. One study found older people who are dog owners were covering distances of close to one mile daily, which is probably more than they’d be compelled to walk without the motivation of their beloved pet.
Even if you’re just taking Fido on a quick jaunt down the block, you’re still going to naturally be more active if you own a dog. Everything you do with a dog — such as throwing balls and Frisbees and playing in the yard — requires more physical exertion than just batting around a ball of string.
5. You’re more likely to be allergic to a cat than a dog
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, an estimated 10 percent of people are allergic to household pets. And cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies.
Even if someone in your immediate family isn’t allergic, it’s important to take potential houseguests into account, as well. Owning a dog means you’re less likely to make company sneeze.
6. Dogs can help you be more social
Walking down the street with a dog naturally attracts people to you and provides a real ice breaker. If you have anxiety around people and want an easy way to make some new friends, a dog might be the answer. According to one study, being accompanied by a dog, “increased the frequency of social interactions.”
If you do have a dog, check out your local paper or Meetup.com for doggy-centric events. Or just head to your local dog park, and strike up a conversation.
7. Dogs can detect seizures
Good news for anyone with epilepsy or other seizure disorders: Specially trained seizure-alert dogs can detect an oncoming seizure 12 to 15 hours before it even happens. The dog will alert his owner with “attention-getting behaviors, such as whining, pawing, or anxious barking,” according to National Geographic.
Even more amazing? Some of these dogs can be trained to dial 911. Take that, cat people!
8. Dogs don’t use litter boxes
Sure, you have to clean up after your dog. But you don’t have to keep a stinky box of his excrement inside your home. Enough said.
9. Dogs are intensely loyal
A cat might show some affection. But a dog will lay down his life to save his owner.
There are so many stories about dog loyalty it’s impossible to name them all. Dogs will go back into a burning building to save their owner. They will risk their own safety to help a child, and some won’t even leave your sidewhen you pass away. When it comes to loyalty, dogs are far and away the better option.
10. Dogs are man’s best friend
Research has shown the bond between a dog and a human is intense. One study found “dog owners report attachments to their dogs that are as strong as their attachments to their best friends, children, and spouses. That’s probably because a dog will never judge you or look at you with disdain — like a cat might.
11. Dogs can be good for your health
Studies show over and over that dog ownership can help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, fight depression, and subsequently help to keep you from needing to visit the doctor. That saves money on health care costs and gives you a better quality of life.
12. Dogs can help protect your family
There’s a noise in the night. What’s more likely to scare off potential intruder: a gentle meow or a menacing bark?
Dogs help to protect their family not only by intimidating potential trespassers, but also by alerting you to their presence. Remember, a dog’s hearing is far more sensitive than a human’s. You can rest easy at night knowing your pup will wake you up if there’s any trouble.
13. Dogs can be trained
To some extent, you can train a cat. But a dog’s ability to learn commands far surpasses any feline. From rolling over to fetching the newspaper when you’re feeling lazy, a dog has much more potential for learning and listening to you, rather than just doing whatever he feels like doing.
14. Dogs shed less
Obviously there are exceptions, but most of the time cats shed more than dogs do. So not only are you more likely to be allergic to a cat, but you’ll also spend a lot more time vacuuming up her dander (and listening to her hack up hairballs).
15. Dogs bring meaning to your life
Loneliness is an unfortunate reality for many people, especially elderly folks. But owning a dog can help to instill a sense of purpose in anyone’s life. Between feeding your dog, taking him on walks, and playing with him, pups can make a huge difference our daily lives. And those sloppy kisses and nuzzles can make just about anyone smile.