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Dogs: 15,000 Years Of Being Your Best Friend

by Men's Healthy List Staff
happy man hugging his dog

Dogs. They’ve been man’s best friend for about 15,000 years. They’ve worked hard to put themselves in the position of being “man’s best friend”. Still working side-by-side, helping with obligations, and of course, giving love and affection, these canines have proven themselves over and over again. There are many studies showing the physical, social, and emotional benefits of having a canine.

Whether you have a chihuahua, Great Dane, or anything in between, you know that your dog may love you even more than you love it. Just some food, water, and petting, and love, of course, and you get unconditional love in return, a friend for as long as your dog lives, and other benefits. Here are many, but not all, of the ways your dog benefits you.

Physical benefits

#1 Longevity

Dogs are known to increase the longevity of people’s lives after heart attacks. The average survival rate is 1in 15, but those people who had a dog boasted a survival rate of 1 in 87.

#2 Lower Cholesterol

Even with an unhealthy lifestyle that included weight mismanagement, poor diet, and smoking, many people were found to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than people who did not have dogs.

#3 Lower Stress

happy woman with dog

Many studies have been conducted that showed people who were given stress tests or other physical examinations showed a lower blood pressure and reduced stressed just by being in the presence of a dog.

#4 Fitness

The majority of people who have dogs have better physical health than others. The need to walk, feed, and play with their dog is a great incentive to keep both their dog and themselves healthy. Increased physical activity can also improve your mental activities such as problem-solving, thinking creatively, and making decisions.

#5 Fewer Illnesses

A survey studies patients in a nursing home. When they were assigned therapy dogs, these patient’s use of prescription drugs and medical care lowered immensely. These patients had more time to connect with their friends, socialize with their families, and do the things they love because they needed less medical appointments and suffered from fewer minor health problems.

#6 Seizures

Before service dogs were specially trained to detect oncoming seizures, many people reported being alerted by their dog before a seizure. Now called “seizure-alert” or “seizure-response” dogs, these special specially trained dogs can predict a seizure 15 to 45 minutes before it occurs. Certified by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), these dogs can be taken anywhere.

Emotional benefits

#1 Illness And Death

A dog can be a great benefit when you’re facing a serious illness or the death of a loved one. Children and adults alike turn to pets for comfort. With their non-judgmental nature, patient demeanor, and desire to help you through problems, dogs are a great benefit when you are adjusting to a new diagnosis or the death of someone close to you.

#2 Less Anxiety

young boy and his dog best friend looking out windowAlso, a common feature of trained service dogs is anxiety reduction. Many pet owners feel safer with their dogs at home. The dogs can alert them of a threat in their home or alert them if a threat is coming outside of their home. They may feel safer walking down the street or at night. Service dogs for people with anxiety disorders perform a range of services, such as assistance with a panic attack, navigating a grocery store, or blocking them from a crowd of people. Dogs are an excellent source of comfort and relief for many different people.

#3 Mood Enhancement

Dogs are excellent when combating loneliness or isolation. No matter your age, a dog can provide companionship and stave off those feelings of emptiness. Well-used in nursing homes, dogs comfort many elderly people, who are alone a lot of the time. Therapy dogs are used to reduce this impact on their quality of life and encourage them to seek out other nursing home members. With a dog, they feel loved and accepted.

Social benefits

#1 Social Bonding

While you know that dogs can cause you to feel happiness, you may not know the positive benefits of a dog for an entire family. Dogs are a great source of happiness within a family. One survey showed that many families reported higher levels of bonding, well-being, and fewer arguments after adding a dog.

#2 Conversation

Dogs are an excellent icebreaker for conversation. There aren’t many people in this world who dislike dogs, so there are many people who love to talk about dogs. This shortcut to conversation often leads to friendships and relationships. A study found that veterans communicated more with each other when a dog was in the room. Just the presence of a dog can facilitate human bonding. Another study showed that people with Alzheimer’s socialized more when a dog was added to their Special Care Unit in their nursing home. Oftentimes, dogs can help with depression or anxiety that may accompany the Alzheimer’s. It’s best to have a relaxed, well-trained dog when visiting someone with Alzheimer’s. Be prepared to take your dog home if the person doesn’t want to handle a dog, at the moment.

Dogs can also be great for autism. The person with autism may communicate more and stay in tune with their external world.

These are some of the ways dogs have provided benefits for us for 15,000 years. Before studies and research, people knew of these benefits and documented them through many anecdotal reports. Currently, we have trained service dogs for many disability-related activities. But, your dog doesn’t have to be specially trained to give you all these benefits. Just being around your dog can provide so many benefits to your health, happiness, and mood.

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