Dogs: Nature’s Cure for the Common Cold?

June 28, 2012 by Tails Magazine in Wellness with 0 Comments

If you already live with a dog, odds are you don’t need any more convincing that your pooch just has a way of making things better. Feeling grumpy walking in the door after a long commute? Nothing cures the blues better than a wagging tail and doggie kisses. Kitchen getting messy while you cook? Thank goodness your furry vacuum cleaner is always there to help clean up! And this article from ABC News tells us 7 ways that scientists are arguing dogs help to improve your health as well:

  1. Dogs and colds: Exposure to animals early in life helps “train” the immune system, which plays an integral part in asthma development, say scientists at the University of California, San Francisco. In short, there is reason to believe that germs, such as those associated with dogs, may be good for children’s health under certain circumstances.
  2. Dogs and Cardiovascular health: Research has supported a connection between owning a dog and reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. In addition, a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that male dog [caretakers] were less likely to die within one year after a heart attack than those who did not [live with] a dog.
  3. Dogs and anxiety: For people with all forms of anxiety, having a dog may be an important coping mechanism. This is especially true in times of crisis. A study out of the Medical College of Virginia found that for hospitalized patients with mental health issues, therapy with animals significantly reduced anxiety levels more than conventional recreational therapy sessions.
  4. Dogs and loneliness: Dogs function as important companions and family members, but certain groups may benefit more than others. The elderly, particularly those in residential care facilities, often become socially isolated once separated from immediate family. Researchers in Australia have found that dogs improved the well-being of residents by promoting their capacity to build relationships.
  5. Dogs and rehabilitation: In the setting of a severe illness or prolonged hospitalization, therapy dogs can be integral in the process of rehabilitation. A review of the literature looking at the function of service dogs proved that dogs can assist people with various disabilities in performing everyday activities, thereby significantly reducing their dependence on others.
  6. Dogs and activity: Before a dog is introduced into the home, the most commonly asked question is, “Who is going to walk him?” Turns out this responsibility may be important for the health of the family as well as the dog. Studies from the American Journal of Public Health and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine have shown that children with dogs spend more time doing moderate to vigorous activity than those without dogs, and adults with dogs walk on average almost twice as much as adults without dogs.
  7. Dogs and doctors: With all of these specific health benefits, could dogs keep you away from the doctor altogether? A national survey out of Australia found that dog and cat owners made fewer annual doctor visits and generally had significantly lower use of general practitioner services.

What health benefits do you get from your pet? Tell us in the comments!

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