Health Reasons Why Everyone Needs A Dog
Fur babies minimize depression, reduce allergies in our children and to even detect some cancers! These are just a few of the many ways they enhance both our physical and emotional health. Let’s look at this in more depth below.
1. Staying More Active
So many of us live fairly sedentary lives. We often sit at desks all day and then sit to watch televsion after dinner. According to the latest thinking, sitting is now the “new smoking”. Heaven forbid if you are guilty of both withour doing something to counteract those habits!
A recent large study done in the United Kingdom proved what we intuitively already knew: a dog strongly influences how much a person exercises. We all recognize that dogs can force us to be more active than we might be on our own. We now know that we are four more times likely to meet today’s activity quidelines if we have a dog in the family!
In addition to dogs having to go outside to relieve themselves, they have lots of energy and want to go outside to play! They will expect you to keep up with them whether just taking a brisk walk or playing a game of catch.
It is much more fun to get some cardio exercise when playing with your fur baby! Starting your day off with a walk is much easier doing it with your best friend!
2. Improving Heart Health In More Ways Than One
It has been well documented that interacting with dogs can lower blood pressure. Talking to or touching your furry friend can do the trick! Couple that with the increased activity associated with dog ownership and you have less risk of developing heart disease (or having a second event) because of lowered BP, triglycerides and total cholesterol.
The leading cause of death around the globe is heart disease and you can reduce your risks by interacting with your dog. This is just one of the major health perks of having a dog in the family. The second cause of death worldwide is cancer and dogs play a significant role there as well.
3. Ways That Cancer Patients Benefit From Dogs
There are so many ways that dogs provide benefit to their owners and we address them in various articles on this blog. Today we want to mention how cancer patients can benefit by having a dog in the family.
The ” Big C” terrifies all of us. Any diagnosis of cancer can be incredibly frightening to any of us. Thankfully, it does not always have to be a death sentence. We now know of many ways to prevent, treat and, yes, even to beat cancer. Having a dog as an integral member of your family is one of those ways!
Dogs often sense we are upset about something, They seem to intuitively know if we are sad or very stressed out over something, https://happymutt.org/study-shows-your-dog-feels-when-you-are-upset-and-in-need-of-help/
However, it is a bit different when is comes to detecting cancer. It appears to be more clinical in nature. Several research studies have demonstrated that dogs can detect several types of malignancy.
One of these case studies was published in the British Medical Journal Case Reports. It documents how a dog detected a malignant melanoma behind his owner’s ear. This dog had not been trained to detect cancer but many dogs have been trained to detect specific cancers.
If you enjoy reading about dogs and the ways they help humans with medical conditions, you will like this article. https://happymutt.org/medical-conditions-that-dogs-can-detect/
Examples of cancers that trained dogs can detect
- Colorectal cancer can be detected with great accuracy by trained dogs even for early stage cancers from a perspn’s breath or watery stool.
- Lung cancer can be detected from someone’s breath.
- Ovarian cancer has been detected from blood samples.
- Prostate cancer can be detected by the dog sniffing the man’s urine.
- There is some similarity in the odor signature between breast cancer, melanoma and lung cancer so a dog being trained to detect one may be able to also detect the others.
Please listen if your dog appears to be very concerned about a specific part of your body. Early detection increases your chances to a successful treatment.
Beyond Cancer Detection, Everyone Needs A Dog For Other Reasons As Well
While much of the information below is targeting cancer patients, it can also help others as well. Various medical conditions and just simply aging can be made easier to deal with if you have a furry best friend at your side.
Ways That Your Dog Can Help Make Your Life Safer And Easier
Many medical conditions as well as cancer cause patients to feel vulnerable is ways they never have felt before. You may be surprised to learn how many different tasks dogs can be trained to perform. Some of these tasks are more than just helpful, they may save a life.
Re-Thinking The Term “Service Dog”
We often think of “seeing eye dogs” or “guide dogs for the blind” when we hear the term “Service Dogs’. However, dogs trained for medical service can help in so many other ways as well. Some examples of this are:
- Barking for help
- Retrieving a telephone
- Assist in walking and to prevent falls
- Open or close doors
- Pick up dropped items
- Turn on or off lights or various appliances
- Carrying bags, packages or groceries
Service dogs are trained to provide an important component of recovery and help patients retain a sense of independence, Anyone with physical or mental disabilites might benefit from this type of benefit.
The National Service Animal Registry tells us how a service dog differs from an emotional therapy or support dog. Service Dogs are “trained to perform major life tasks to assist people with physical or severe psychiatric impairments/disabilities.”
Anyone who must deal with a change in abilites can benefit from a service dog and all they do to encourage independence. Invasive surgical procedures and the toxic side effects of chemo can increase our sense of vulnerability. The illness is hard enough to manage so being able to feel less vulnerable is a real gift.
There Are Many Ways A Dog Can Help You Feel Better
When you’re seriously ill, the physical component is only half the battle. Anyone who is discouraged and lacking in hope is much less likely to live than those who have a strong support system. Therapy dogs have a strong role to play in this circumstance.
“Having an animal-assisted visit significantly improved their quality of life and ‘humanized’ a high-tech treatment,” says Stewart B. Fleishman, MD, principal investigator in a 2015 study published by the Journal of Community and Supportive Oncology.
This particular study detailed how researchers observed patients undergoing radiation and chemotheraoy treatments. They were being treated for either head and neck or gastrointestinal cancers. The patients were also visited by Therapy Dogs. The results were very encourgaging!
How animal therapy helped women with breast cancer was looked at in a Canadian study, also in 2015. Not only did this therapy ease the patients’ anxiety and stress levels, it helped to keep them calm. The study concluded that is further “promoted increased communication with health professionals.”
Therapy pets may be especially beneficial in these ways
- Easing anxiety and elevating mood
- Provides company and comfort
- Lessens feelings of isolation or loneliness
- Distracts patient from stress, pain or boredom
- Snuggling with animal releases endorphins, calming and relaxing patients
- Motivates efforts to improve
- Improves socialization
- Encourages communication
Regardless of other illnesses, dogs help fight depression
According to various research studies, interacting with dogs improve our mood. It also relieves tension. Playing with dogs increasess both serotonin and dopamine levels in humans.
Because these so-called “feel good” transmitters help increase emotional stability and our sense of well-being, they are known to help people with mild to moderate depression. This play also releases oxytoxin which helps the person and dog to bond as well as to increase positive feelings.
Our dogs do so much to make our lives healthier and more enjoyable. They encourage us to be more active and thus improve our health in general. Playing with them reduces depression, stress and anxiety as well as decreasing lonliness.
Whether you have a medical condition requiring assistance or just want a furry best friend, a dog will enhance the mental and physical well being of your family. Never underestimate the benefit of adding a fur baby to your family.
Be sure to let them know how much you appreciate them on a daily basis! A recent poll of extended family member’s fur babies informed us that favorite treats, belly or behind the ear scratches and playful walks outdoors are great ways to say “Thanks!”
Dogs are not just beneficial to adults. Kids need dogs, too. https://happymutt.org/cancer-therapy-dogs-bring-kids-joy/
Featured Photo Courtesy of dreamstime.com
Other Photos Courtesy of Pixabay