The Surprising Health Benefits of Canine Companionship
Updated: Oct 1, 2018
Dogs, our four legged, easily excitable, always loyal companions. Did you know that your four legged friend is beneficial to your health and wellness? Just in petting a dog you can lower your blood pressure. Other benefits our fury friends offer are reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels, which contribute to better overall cardiovascular health and fewer heart attacks. Dog owners who may suffer a heart attack are more likely to survive than non-dog owners.
They naturally increase our serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, thus improving our moods. I have never met a dog that didn’t make me smile and feel “better” no matter how my physical or mental state was in the particular moment. Those who may working stressful jobs, or with higher stress levels in their life also do better with dogs around. It has been shown that dogs in the office may decrease tension and stress in the office place, and also between spouses. Dogs have been known to lessen anxiety and depression, and that they may also help those who isolate get out of their home and socialize more. Having a dog, or being around a dog may help you become calmer, more mindful, and more aware and present in your own life.
I used to bring my dog to work, at two different positions. One was an office position, where he was able to hang out in my cubicle and roam the office. I “signed up” to be able to bring him so there was never more than 1 dog in the building. When dogs were on site I found employees smiled more and were more productive with their time. The second position was at a residential treatment center, he came for all my shifts, which were 24-36 hours. The clients loved the dogs that came to work, it made a hard situation a bit easier for them. Days where I would leave him home, the clients would be more moody and question why he wasn’t “at work for his shift” at this position many dogs would or could be on site, it was rare when there wasn’t one at work. I am at a new position now, my four legged friend doesn’t come with, however he is in the window waiting for me like clockwork to greet me each day.
Research has also shown that dogs help decrease allergies, and that children who grow up with dogs are less likely to have allergies and may have stronger immune systems. When I was growing up this was not the case, there had not been any research or evidence to prove these benefits. However, both dogs and cats have been shown to lower a child’s chance of becoming allergic to pets—up to 33%, according to a 2004 study
in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It’s also reported that in patients 65 and older, those who have a pet get sick or need medical treatment and appointments 30% less than those who live without a pet.
It’s believed (yet not yet proven) that owning a dog can help detect, treat, and manage a variety of illnesses. Some examples of this include those dogs who have been trained to “sniff out” cancers, including but not limited to skin, kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer. Service dogs are known to benefit people who may be struggling with traumatic brain injury, mental illness, PTSD, chronic illness, autism, rheumatoid arthritis, and help increase mobility and promoting independence among their owners. It also seems as though Alzheimer’s patients are soothed by dogs, whose companionship also seems to mitigate emotional flare-ups and aggression.
Owning a dog is a responsibility, benefits aside, it’s a lifelong commitment to another living being. If you are considering adopting, you are a wonderful person, please make sure you are ready for the lifelong commitment and responsibility to love and take care of your fury companion. If you do adopt, or have adopted, you will most likely be greatly rewarded with one of the most wonderful, satisfying, loving, and active relationships you’ll ever experience.