Dog Ownership… For Your Health!
The health benefits of dog ownership have been proven time and again. Dog owners tend to be healthier than non-dog owners - and even cat owners. Why? Read on...
According to a recent study by the University of California, the dust found in homes where a dog is present helps to protect against the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. While the study only proves that mice who are fed dust from these houses are resistant to RSV, the research could go a long way in helping humans - especially children - become resistant to respiratory ailments like allergies, asthma, bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
Exposure to this dust - or more specifically, growing up with a dog in the home - at an early age would act as a sort of vaccine, training the immune system to be better able to fight off these ailments before they develop.
We can add this new information to the list of health benefits already associated with dog ownership, including:
Not only will dogs encourage you to get outside and move around more (exercise! It’s good for you...) the American Journal of Cardiology published a study that showed male dog owners were more likely to survive longer than a year after a heart attack than males without a dog. In addition, research has shown a strong correlation between dog ownership and heart health, including a lower risk of high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure and other heart-related problems.
Some hospitals are realizing the value in having a dog on staff, incorporating a therapy dog into the workplace. If someone is in a hospital for a prolonged period of time with a serious injury or illness, a therapy dog can cheer them up or even help them perform everyday activities if they are unable to do so themselves.
Many people have varying levels of anxiety disorders - some are even unable to leave their house. Therapy with dogs, according to a Medical College of Virginia study, helped patients who had mental health issues that resulted in hospitalization have more reduced anxiety levels compared to other types of therapy. A dog can also help calm people who have generalized anxiety disorder, and make it easier for some to complete everyday tasks that might be overwhelming to someone with anxiety, such as leaving the house.
A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology has found that people who have dogs tend to be in better general health, and that dog ownership is more positive than cat ownership when it comes to health. We mentioned better physical health from extra exercise above, but dogs ownership also comes with a lower risk of serious medical problems and even minor health complications.
Not only can having a dog companion help speed up recovery from a major illness, many dogs are specifically trained to warn of oncoming seizures or dangerous drops in blood sugar. In addition, dogs can lower stress and help people become more social as they meet other dog owners.
This health psychologist’s quote from an article on that study just about sums it up:
"In some cases, the social support offered by an animal is greater than the support another human could offer."