How can you resist that wagging tail that is SO excited to see you when you get back from work? Dogs have been commonly spoken of as man’s best friend and I think it’s true! 60% of Americans and 50% of people worldwide are pet owners. Dogs in particular have been used to help with many things and therefore are often used as service aids or for therapeutic purposes. Dogs can actually be really beneficial for your health. We have two dogs in the clinic and we notice a huge improvement in some of our clients because of it! The research backs us up!
Research over the last ten or so years, has tried to determine the links between owning a pet and your health. Original research showed that people who had a heart attack had better survival outcomes if they owned a dog. Dog owners were actually 8.6x more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than people who didn’t own dogs
The reason for this might be how dogs affect our heart and blood pressure. Just giving Fido a pet tends to decrease our heart rate and systolic blood pressure (if you don’t remember what those numbers are, check out this video). Even having a dog in a room, can decrease the response we have when we’re stressed out.
Overall pet owners, and dog owners in particular, tend to have healthier hearts. They think that part of it is because of the decrease in stress that your dog gives you but some of it is the exercise part. Dogs need their exercise. When they are exercising, often their humans are exercising too! And that has been shown. Dog owners are more likely to reach the minimum physical activity guidelines than their non-owner counterparts. Win-win!
There has also been some research into the role of dogs for our mental health. It has been shown that dogs not only reduce our stress but also our anxiety levels. We are better able to handle major stressful life events when we have Rover in our lives. Things like divorce or family illness become just a little bit more manageable when you have your pup to hug and hold onto.
They also guess that dogs have also been linked to increased self-esteem and self-worth. When you have your puppy losing their minds because they’re so excited that you’re home, you can’t help but feel good right?!
Dog owners tend to get sick less. People who have a pooch at home tend to report less illnesses such as
the common cold, the flu, fever or dizziness. The reason for this? Who knows! But I will take it!
In general, our pup makes us feel like we’re healthier. We tell people that our health is better in our estimation when we have a puppy at home than people who don’t. Maybe it’s just because they make us feel good?
Having a black lab, I see the intuitiveness of dogs among people. Our dog Boomer knows when our heart rate is super high. When I’m sad or sick, he comes and sits next to me.
Service dogs have been being used for a wide range of human conditions from epilepsy, to post-traumatic stress, to persons who are visually impaired. Dogs can make incredible companions that help humans live more rich lives.
Many dogs have served as therapy dogs. Their happy demeanors cheer people up who are in nursing homes or hospitals. Many nurses have told me that the therapy dogs are often a highlight of the week for residents and staff alike.
Even now, I think we aren’t aware of all of the positive benefits our four-legged friends have for us. Some dogs have shown amazing precision in being able to smell cancer, low blood sugar, C Difficile … not to mention narcotics.
Based on all of this research, how could you not embrace a dog knowing that it would make you feel better? These furry creatures are staples in our lives and I for one, would not want it any other way!