Dogs: The ultimate health care companion?

April 23rd, 2016
Stress Free smiles

Everyone knows that dogs are considered man’s best friend, but did you know that they also make great health companions?

The people at Fairmont Hotel, who have a dog friendly policy across all of their hotels, have outlined exactly why in their recent longform article where they explore not only the health benefits of dogs but also the role that they play every day in our health care system.

How a dog can impact your health for the better:

Reduces stress
Dogs are great stress relievers. A study has even shown that patients experiencing high stress levels maintain a lower blood pressure if they own a dog compared to non-dog owners. Even after just five minutes of playing or petting a dog, the body secretes a ‘happiness hormone’ called oxytocin which thereby decreases levels of our ‘stress hormone’, cortisol, relieving symptoms of stress.

Reduction in allergies
A study of 470 children who have grown up in households with dogs has shown evidence that they are 77% less likely to develop an allergy compared to children growing up in a household with no pets. This is also known as the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ which is the idea that the bacteria found on pets actually triggers an immune response earlier on in life, making your children more resistant to allergies later.

Natural anti-depressant
Dogs are considered great therapy for mental health issues. Spending just mere minutes with a dog produces a hormone known as serotonin, which is a natural depression fighting chemical. For those who struggle with social interaction, a dog makes a great companion and can be an excellent ice breaker out in the wider world.

Keeps your heart healthy
A study of nearly 6,000 participants found that, particularly male dog owners, had lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels than that of non-dog owners.

Further studies have also indicated that dog ownership can actually improve the hearts response to stressful situations and decrease overall heart rate. The hearts recovery response is even faster when a dog is actually in the room with you.

Eases anxiety
Dogs are astute animals and can be trained to detect emotional signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety disorders and ease the anxiety through a number of behaviours. They allow their owners to feel less fearful by providing security and support leading to better self-esteem.

Love your Pet, Love yourself

Keeps you fit
Dogs need regular exercise and with this comes the added bonus of getting fit yourself. A 2005 study found that dog owners were 34% more likely to do at least 150 minutes of walking a week and the odds of doing any physical activity were actually 69% higher.

It has even been shown that this regular walking can have a similar impact on the body as high intensity running including lower blood pressure, lower risk of developing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease as well as lessening the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.

Keeps you calm
For those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), owning a dog can provide a calming effect. The added responsibility of having a pet care schedule, such as brushing, walking or feeding, can help those with ADHD learn to plan and be responsible whilst it being very rewarding.

Owning a dog can also help with the high energy levels that are commonly associated with this disorder. The regular exercise regime that a dog needs and their playful nature allows those with high energy levels to be able to release it in a productive way.

Now that we have explored the number of ways in which a dog can benefit your health, how is this being put to use in our health care systems and which breeds are best for these roles? Continue reading here to find out.

Make sure your furry friend is always looked after at our DOGSLife Directory

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