Scientific studies on the healing power of dogs – Part 2

Science has confirmed what most dog lovers would probably consider common knowledge.

Dogs are good for your health. So good in fact, it seems the humble pooch can do more then just sit stay and fetch, or go for walkies…

The benefits and healing powers of dogs include everything from companionship and exercise to savings for public health expenditure and they are even being used to treat psychosis!

Research has shown;

Dogs ease anxiety and aid in recovery from depression and mood disorders.

The American Psychiatric Association reports in using dogs for recreational therapy stating ‘Statistically significant reductions in anxiety scores were found after the animal-assisted therapy session for patients with psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and other disorders, and after the therapeutic recreation session for patients with mood disorders.’

Dogs help the elderly.

In Japan, research from the Sapporo University suggests that ‘dog therapy’ is effective in treating dementia and improving cognitive functioning in elderly patients. It hardly comes as a surprise.

What may be most surprising are results from Australia, where a national survey done by the Springer Netherlands reports that dogs saved Australia $988 million dollars in 1995 and that dog owners had less yearly doctor visits and consumed less medication;

“American, Australian and British studies have shown that pet dogs and cats confer health benefits on their owners. This paper reports results from the first national survey (N = 1011) estimating the magnitude of these benefits. The survey showed that dog and cat owners make fewer annual doctor visits and are less likely to be on medication for heart problems and sleeping difficulties than non-owners. An important public policy implication is that pet ownership probably reduces national health expenditure. By linking sample survey results to data on health expenditure, the paper proposes a method of estimating savings. A preliminary estimate of savings of $988 million is given for Australia for financial year 1994-95.”

So as well as providing the obvious benefits of a healthier more active and less lonely life, they also save us millions in health care! Who knew.

All the more reason (if you ever needed any), to share your life with a dog.

Barker, Sandra B. Ph.D. and Dawson, Kathryn S. Ph.D. “The Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Anxiety Ratings of Hospitalized Psychiatric Patients” American Psychiatric Association

Headey, Bruce “Health Benefits and Health Cost Savings Due to Pets: Preliminary Estimates from an Australian National Survey” Social Indicators Research, Volume47, Number 2 / June, 1999 233,234

Namiko KAWAMURA, Masayoshi NIIYAMA, Harue NIIYAMA (2007)

Long-term evaluation of animal-assisted therapy for institutionalized elderly people: a preliminary result

Psychogeriatrics 7 (1), 813

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