Health Benefits Dogs/Pets Provide People & Families
These days, everyone is looking for the newest, latest, and greatest health practice that will be life changing. People often wonder, are dogs healthy for people? Come to find out, they are one of the most beneficial prescriptions in our homes today – our pets! Studies have released research on being a pet owner and the benefits have been shown to be remarkable. So you may want to drop the diet pills, return the exercise DVD, and skip the 10-day cleanse, and take a look at your furry friend instead!
Many dog owners can attest to the pure joy and excitement your dog spills out when you walk through the door. You’re exhausted after a long day at work, you don’t feel like making dinner, and you just need some peace and quiet, but then the first greeting you receive at the door totally flips your mood around. The wagging tail, the dedication, and unconditional love that your dog will endlessly provide is reason enough to lift your spirits and put a smile on your face.
Not only do pets improve our mental well-being, they have also been shown to improve our physical health. This article will be separated into two parts. Throughout Part 1 we will explore a handful of special health needs that benefit from dogs. Part 2 will discuss common physical health needs that also benefit from dogs.
Doctors all around the world have begun using pets as therapeutic partners. It’s not uncommon for dogs to literally be “prescribed” to patients as part of their healing process. Below we will discuss a few needs currently benefiting from service trained canines.
Ever want to cuddle up to your dog on a cold winter night? Fur allows your dog to stay warm as a built-in coat, but hairless dogs like the Chinese crested water dog and the xoloitzcuintli (pronounced: SHOH-loh-eets-KWEENT-lee) have little or no hair so their heat escapes them more easily. Doctors are now using these breeds for patients with chronic pain, such as pain caused by fibromyalgia. By sitting these breeds on or near the area of pain, the patient is able to experience positive results. Just as one would use a heat pack on sore muscles, chronic pain patients use dogs for relief while simultaneously receiving joy from a furry companion.
Autism is becoming more and more common, so services are popping up all over to help ease patients’ needs with this disorder. Dogs can now become trained as “autism service” dogs. The dogs help bring a sense of calm to the Autism patients and promote social skills and interactions with others by having a characteristic in common. The service dogs also help to decrease the frequency of emotional outbursts by giving patients a quiet subject matter to focus on.
Many diseases and disorders can lead to seizures. Canines have become a seizure patient’s best friend because of their ability to protect, predict, and assist during the seizure process. If a patient goes into a seizure, the dog can bark to bring attention from others for help. The dog can also get in position near the patient to prevent damage from extreme convulsions and protect from environmental threats. Some dogs have even been known to be able to predict when their patient is about to have a seizure. Dogs learn to predict the episode of a seizure by incidence; the more frequent a seizure occurs, the more likely a dog understands what is going on and remembers how to react.
One of the most astounding categories of service dogs is those provided to diabetes patients. Diabetes dogs can actually sense a chemical change in their patient’s body, which allows them to sense a drop in blood sugar. The dog will then nudge, lick, or bark the patient. The warning gives them enough time to eat something to increase their blood sugar before they have a hypoglycemic attack.
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.