For a long time, dogs have had special standing in the medical field. Trained to move for the immobilized, hear for the deaf, and see for the blind, they have, undoubtedly, become indispensable companions for those with disabilities. However, they are much more than four-legged health care assistants. For instance, one Japanese study found that dog owners made 40 percent fewer visits to a doctor while a similar Melbourne study of 5,000 people showed that owners of dogs (and other pets) had lower heart attack, blood pressure, and cholesterol risk compared to those who didn’t own any pets. Obviously, better health prospects of pet owners could be attributed to various factors, but many experts opine that companion animals contribute to improved health at least in part by lowering their owners’ stress levels.
Specifically, dogs have been shown to perform remarkable acts in improving their owners’ health. There are stories of dogs cautioning their owners of imminent health risks e.g. alerting those with diabetes or seizures of the onset of a hypoglycemic episode or a seizure respectively. More recently, studies have shown that dogs can also be used in cancer detection (lung and breast cancer) by simply smelling patients’ breath. Below, therefore, we take a look at the healing power of dogs as follows:
1. Psychological benefits
There are numerous psychological benefits to owning a canine. Spending time with one can lower blood pressure and anxiety. It also increases dopamine and serotonin (two neurochemicals that play a vital role in feeling calm as well as feeling good). Moreover, studies show that there is less stress and tension in a marriage, even less in an office environment, and that people perform stressful tasks much better if they have a dog in their life. These wonderful pets also create a purpose for the living (especially those who are retired) as well as act as a companion preventing isolation and loneliness which in turn wards off disease and cognitive decline.
2. Heart health benefits
Dogs are known to improve heart health by lowering their owners’ blood pressure. They reduce the risk of heart attacks, decrease triglyceride levels, and reduce cholesterol of their owners. In fact, it has been shown that those who keep these pets have better survival rates in the event of a heart attack. This may be attributed to the fact that dog owners tend to be more active than non-dog owners. Typically, adults are advised to get at least three hours of exercise in a week and if you own a dog, you are more than likely to meet this goal as many people either walk their dog(s) or spend time with them outdoors. Additionally, studies show that those who walk dogs tend to have fewer living limitations, fewer doctor visits, and lower body mass.
3. Dogs aiding illnesses
Dogs are highly beneficial in aiding people with various illnesses and medical conditions. As intimated earlier, it has been shown that some dogs are capable of sniffing out cancerous spots on their owner’s body. They are also known to help those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis as they get them to move around a lot and in so doing take their mind off their ailment. Children with A.D.H.D. also benefit through exercise and improved moods while these pets also double up as therapy providers in nursing homes as well as hospitals.
Dog owners are all too aware that the bond between person and pet is loving, comforting, and even healing. And as relates to the latter, it is little wonder why.