A dog is definitely a man’s best friend. As dog-lovers, every day we realize how our four-legged kids fill our lives with companionship and entertainment. But what few of us are aware of is that dogs have that extraordinary power to make us healthier.
Here are 10 surprising health benefits of having a dog:
1. Keeps you safe from allergies and eczema:
Contrary to the myth that dog fur triggers an allergy, researchers have found that living with dogs make your immune system stronger thereby keeping various allergies and eczema at bay.
In his research, University of Wisconsin-Madison pediatrician James E. Gern found having a pet at home lowers the risk of developing allergies in children by 33%.
2. Takes care of your heart:
Literally. And this is not just because of their unconditional love. There is more science to it. Studies have found that owning a dog and petting it regularly lowers high blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) in their studies came to a conclusion that dog owners have decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners.
In fact, it was also found that stroke patients recover faster when they have a dog or a cat to tend to as that way their stress levels are reduced.
The American Heart Association also acknowledges dogs can keep their owners safe from the heart attack.
In a statement, it said: “…There are plausible psychological, sociological and physiological reasons to believe that pet ownership might actually have a causal role in decreasing cardiovascular risk.”
3. Keeps you active:
If you own a dog, you will never need that treadmill again. Your pooch will be a reason good enough to take long walks or jogs regularly.
Research conducted by the Wellness Institute at Northwest Memorial Hospital has shown that you automatically get the recommended 30-minute-a-day walk when you have a dog at home.
Director of the human-animal interaction research center at University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Rebecca A. Johnson, said: “You need to walk, and so does your dog. It’s good for both ends of the leash.”
4. Can detect cancer:
It is believed that dogs can smell cancer in your body. There are numerous stories on how dogs lick and sniff moles or lumps in human bodies, which later checked turned out to be cancerous.
A study in The Lancet, found dogs are not good at sniffing out skin cancers, but they can also detect bladder, lung, breast, ovarian and colon cancer in their early stages.
The American Scent Dog Association is conducting various researches in this field to establish more links.
5. Fights your depression:
There is no anti-depressant stronger than a lick by a sticky tongue, a wet nose, and a wagging tail.
A study by the University of Missouri-Columbia found that not just family households but single adults and women too are less likely to slip into depression if they have a dog at home.
6. Takes care of the elderly:
Studies have shown dog ownership helps elderly people deal with stress effectively.
There are even researches that found canine caregivers have a great impact on Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, who have lesser outbursts in the presence of their pets.
7. Helps treat Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):
Being great motivators and distractors, dogs make sure their RA patient-owners move more frequently to play with them, at the same time, keep their minds off their pain.
The effect is psychological but the “good” impact is felt by the body as well.
8. Acts as a therapy for ADHD kids:
According to Pet Wiki and WebMD, children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) benefit a lot from owning dogs.
The excess energy of the child is burnt out playing with the dog and caring for it increases his sense of responsibility.
9. Knows when your blood sugar level drops:
Dogs seem to know and alert their diabetic owners when their blood glucose level falls.
In an article carried by The British Medical Journal, more than one-third of dogs belonging to diabetic patients showed behavioral changes when the latter’s blood sugar dropped, at times even before their owners themselves could realize and nudged them to eat something.
10. Knows your food allergies:
Canines, being great sniffers, can detect food allergens.
Trainers at the Florida Canine Academy conducted an experiment with peanuts and found dogs could detect even minuscule traces of the food particle in the air and alert their owners about it.
(Sources: The Huffington Post, AgingCare, The New York Times Well Blog, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Science Daily, Animal Planet, Live Science, Wellbridge fitness club, Mental Floss, FYI Living, DogVacay, Lifehack)