Health Benefits Dogs/Pets Provide People & Families Part 2
Continuing our article on the health benefits dogs provide to humans, part 2 will discuss the common health ailments that are eased by having a dog in your home. There are so many benefits appearing from recent studies, you may want to go adopt a dog right after you read this article! We aren’t saying that owning a dog is going to be the cure for your health concern, but bringing some tail-wagging happiness into your home may be beneficial enough!
Recent studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients can feel a greater sense of calm when an animal is around. Alzheimer’s patients suffer from dementia and often have symptoms of forgetfulness, cognitive impairment, delusions, and perceptual confusion. Alzheimer’s patients can become agitated and anxious because of this frustrating disease, which can result in outbursts. The presence of an animal can bring a sense of calm to the individual, resulting in decreased outbursts. Cats are often easier to care for, but a well trained dog can provide equal peace and tranquility. An active dog would not be beneficial to patients with this disease because it could burden the family and caregivers, make the patient feel more anxious, and distract the patient from completing important tasks like eating meals and relaxing.
Lowering your blood pressure may seem like a daunting task for many because it often entails eating right and exercising, but having a dog around may help you see immediate results. Dogs always need exercise and, with high blood pressure, you do too! Simply taking your dog for a walk could give you the amount of cardiovascular exercise you may need for the day. Having a dog around may also help you stave off stressful thoughts, which can result in lowering your blood pressure. Mental stress can increase your body’s blood pressure response, but sitting and calmly petting your dog or just taking your mind off stressful thoughts can have positive results.
Pet allergies are extremely common! Whether you are allergic to fur, dander, or saliva, your pet can cause your body to produce inflammation-causing antibodies leading to watery eyes, itchy skin, and asthma. Recent studies have shown that our bodies can actually become desensitized to allergens by exposing ourselves, and our children, to pets during infancy and even in the womb. Desensitization is the process of repeatedly being exposed to a stimulus, which eventually leads to a decreased reaction. In the case of pet allergies, early or repetitive exposure would reduce your body’s immunological response.
Researchers have found a positive link between owning a dog and having a reduced risk of death in heart attack patients. Heart attack survivors who own a dog seem to have a higher survival rate than those who do not have a dog. This may be because of the reduced sense of stress a dog brings to an environment or the increased amount of activity a dog creates for their owners. Dog owners often feel a sense of love and happiness from their dog, which can reduce stress. In addition, studies have shown that dog owners are over 30% more likely to reach the recommended amount of exercise per week. Having a dog around young children is not only good for the prevention of allergies as mentioned above, but a dog is also great for increasing physical activity. Children love to play with a young, active dog, which can help fight the ever-present adolescent obesity.
If you are not able to bring a pet into your home, feel free to volunteer at a pet shelter, visit a friend with a dog, or foster a pet until a permanent home is found for the animal
Kim is the co-owner of DogLoverStore with her husband, John. She earned her BS in operations management at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She enjoys walking in nature, gardening in the sun, eating sour candy, going on drives, yoga, and reading.