Scientific studies on the healing power of dogs

The healing power of dogs

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”

~ Ben Williams

All pet owners know the health benefits of having pets. It’s those that do not own one that still need to be convinced. Dogs are more than just a companion they are our friends, our family, our confidant, our doctor and our therapist all at once.

Finally, science has backed up what we dog owners already know they have an ability to help us heal.

Dogs have an ability to know our feelings. They know when we are upset, when we are sad, or when we are angry. They also know when we are happy or excited, and react in joyous abandon accordingly!

Dogs provide a number of different functions for an ill person. They provide a source of comfort, they give a reason to get up in the morning. They do not allow us to wallow in self pity, and they provide unconditional love. They are always happy to see us and if this does not improve a persons mood, nothing will.

Dr Marty Becker, a veterinarian, has written a number of articles and books documenting the healing power of dogs. Studies have shown that petting animals helps us to lower our heart rate and blood pressure and improves our mood.

Petting dogs result in mood altering chemicals being naturally released into our blood stream these chemicals are the same ones that are released when a mother nurses her baby. The chemicals stimulate a feeling of happiness and love and this means that our mood is automatically improved.

Your pet dog is so attuned to you and your body that they can detect minute changes in you. Dr Becker cites cases where animals can detect a drop of blood sugar levels in their diabetic owners. It has also been found that some dogs can detect the presence of cancer in humans.

Dr James Lynch of Johns Hopkins has done work which shows the punishing health problems that can be suffered from those suffering from loneliness. Pets play an important role in helping to stave this loneliness off. Dr Becker cites studies that show that dog owners are more likely to chat to passersby which is great for those how are depressed or lonely.

Dogs are wonderful to have around, especially when you are trying to exercise. What better motivational tool do you need they have to be walked, so therefore you must walk! This is especially true if you have a dog that guilts you into doing it, even if you are trying hard not to!

Owning a pet can also help those who suffer from depression. Some hospitals, including the National Institutes of Health, prescribe animal therapy in their treatment of those with depression. A dog or other pet can help the sufferer focus on something outside themselves. The interaction involved can help to put them into a calm state.

So, if you are feeling down or a bit ill, the best thing you can do is call over your dog, pop it into bed with you and pet and cuddle it to your hearts content!

Further reading:

The healing power of pets, Dr Marty Becker

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