Dogs, who are often regarded as man’s best friend, have been the subject of several scientific investigations into the ways in which they may improve human health and happiness. In this Highlight, we’ll discuss the many ways in which your dog may improve your health.
An estimated 78 million dogs are kept as pets in the United States, as reported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
The exact date when dogs were initially domesticated is unknown, but a research released last year (which may be trusted) suggests that it happened between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago in Europe.
The close relationship and mutual support between people and dogs is said to date back to at least the Neolithic era, if not earlier.
These wolf relatives have long served to protect humans and their homes by watching after livestock and other valuables. Humans have produced several unique animals for their cuteness or beauty, and they have also taught canines to help them hunt.
Dogs, on the other hand, are and may always have been highly prized pets due to their reputation as faithful friends that go out of their way to make their owners happy.
In this Highlight, we discuss studies that indicate how having a dog may improve your mental and physical health, as well as how much more resilient you are to stress.
The health benefits of having a dog.
Existing literature evaluations demonstrate that there are many research indicating that dog ownership is connected with improved physical health. These results keep coming up.
A research published only last year in Medical News Today found that dog ownership may cut a person’s chance of dying young by as much as a third.
Dog owners may also have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study conducted by experts at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
What gives? The link between dog ownership and improved health is not causally clear.
However, the advantages may become apparent as a result of a number of lifestyle characteristics that individuals choose to alter after deciding to acquire a canine companion.
Physical exercise stands out among other lifestyle factors as the most important. If you have a dog, you must dedicate yourself to walking it at least twice a day, and maybe more.
Based on a sample of 41,514 people living in California, some of whom had dogs, some of whom owned cats, and some of whom did not own pets at all, these findings were obtained.
In addition, the “enforced” activity that dog walking provides has been shown to improve the health of people over the age of 60, according to a number of recent studies (including one from the University of Missouri in Columbia and another from Glasgow Caledonian University in the United Kingdom).
In addition to bolstering our health as we age, dogs may do so even before we’re born.
Children whose moms spent time with dogs while pregnant had a decreased chance of having eczema in early infancy, according to research published last year.
People who own dogs report feeling happier
A dog’s “feel-good vibes” are instantaneous and undeniable, making them a natural companion.
It’s tough to stay downbeat after a long day when you’re welcomed with (sometimes loud) joy by a nice dog.
Scientists attribute this to the “love hormone” oxytocin and its influence on social behavior.
“During the last decades,” write the authors of a review published in Frontiers in Psychology, “animal assistance in therapy, education, and care has greatly increased.”
Humans have a surge in oxytocin while interacting with dogs. This “love injection” of oxytocin, the hormone mostly responsible for forming bonds with others, improves our mental health.
The reviewed literature suggests that dog owners have better social interactions and that having a dog around makes individuals more trusting and, paradoxically, more trustworthy.
Therapy dogs have been theorized to aid the mental health of youngsters undergoing cancer treatment, as well as those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), by easing their distressing symptoms and even preventing future bouts.
The Lessons Learned from Canine Clinical Studies
Clinical study into human health issues may potentially benefit from the insight and opportunities provided by our canine friends.
A research from earlier this year that was highlighted by MNT shows that dogs and their human owners share metabolic problems including obesity.
Therefore, it would be beneficial to understand the effects of nutrition on the gut microbiota of dogs in order to better address our own eating habits.
Some kinds of cancer are also seen in canines. Dogs, like humans, are vulnerable to the debilitating effects of brain tumors; understanding the genetic risk factors for gliomas in dogs might have implications for human cancer research.
Furthermore, understanding the evolution of a canine cancer that may be transmitted to humans would provide important insight into the disease.
Dementia may manifest in dogs with some of the same symptoms as humans, including memory loss and difficulty solving problems.
Scientists say that if we can figure out how dementia impacts these four-legged animals, we should be able to figure out how it impacts people, too.
“Dogs,” says Dr. Rosalind Arden of the London School of Economics and Political Science in the U.K., “are one of the few animals that reproduce many of the key features of dementia.”
According to her, “[s]o,” she continues, “understanding their cognitive abilities could be valuable in helping us to understand the causes of this disorder in humans and possibly test treatments for it.”
Dogs are not only great company and a source of endless Internet memes thanks to their hilarious activities, but they also help us maintain a healthy lifestyle. They share many of our health issues, which is both tragic and adorable.
Most importantly, though, we have always welcomed them into our lives because they provide us the kind of happiness and peace that we would otherwise have to struggle for.