“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”
—Dean Koontz, Author
Over the past ten years, man’s best friend has become a fixture in more than 50% of American households and for good reason. Dog owners know that no matter how bad their day is, how stressful a job has become, or how tired they are, once they see their dog’s wagging tail and smiling face, they instantly feel better. They know that they are loved. This unconditional affection we receive from our canine counterparts has also evolved passed mere companionship.
Dogs have long had a special standing in the medical world. They see for the blind, hear for the deaf and move for the immobilized. Over the years, data on the role dogs play in our mental and physical well being has trickled out from various studies around the world.
In 2012, Nine specially trained golden retrievers and their volunteer handlers were immediately brought to Newton, Connecticut after the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Children were seen talking directly to the dogs about the incident, expressing their fears and grief. Dialogues between a group of teens were witnessed, all while they were petting the same therapy dog. Studies have shown that simply petting a dog can decrease levels of stress hormones and lower blood pressure.
Paw-sitivley Pawsome Health Benefits
If you already have a furry friend at home, then you are probably
- C’mon, Get Happy: Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than non-pet owners. Even for those people who do become clinically depressed, having a pet to take care of can help them out of a depressive episode, in some cases more effectively than medication. Even the mere act of looking at your pet increases the amount of Oxytocin, the “feel good” chemical, in the brain.
- Disease Detection: There are stories of dogs warning their owners of imminent health threats. Some dogs have the innate ability to detect seizures and are also capable of alerting people with diabetes of a coming hypoglycemic episode. More recently, some studies have suggested dogs can be cancer detectors. In 2006, the medical journal of Integrative Cancer Therapies reported how ordinary house dogs could identify breast and lung cancer patients by smelling their breath. A University of Maine study is also testing whether dogs can sniff out ovarian cancer.
- A More Active Social Life: Not only does walking your dog help you to get exercise, it might also help you get a date. People are more likely to stop and talk with you when you’re walking a dog. Going to the dog park or taking your dogs to run errands can also lead to strangers striking up conversations with you about your dog.
- Get Your Cardio On: While other pets have positive effects on your health as well, dogs have the added benefit of needing to be walked and played with numerous times a day. This means most dog owners get the recommended minimum 30 minutes of exercise a day, lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease and keeping them in better overall shape than cat owners or people without pets.
So grab your pooch and go have some fun! You will both benefit from the pleasurable together time 🙂