The concept of animal therapy, specifically dog therapy, has been around for centuries. The mysterious bond between human and canine is undeniable.
When my poodle, Fred, is around, I feel like my heart will burst and splatter love all over him. He has this inexplicable way of calming me down and making me feel better no matter what!
Has science been able to prove that this bond is beneficial in the treatment plan of various conditions? There have been many studies to show that this relationship between man and canine can have a medically significant impact on the lives of the human.
Having said this, here are my top 6 reasons why I think EVERYONE should own a pup:
1. PEOPLE WITH PTSD WHO OWN A DOG SHOW DECREASED ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION:
There are several studies out there that show that those living with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) suffer less disruptive symptomatology when around a pet dog. Some examples of the therapeutic effects studies have been able to show include better sleep patterns and decreased nightmares when living with a service dog. PTSD is an anxiety-based disorder that has symptoms of negative alternations in thought, mood, avoidance, and changes in arousal and reactivity. In addition to alleviating symptoms, what this also means for patients is less medication use, less doctor visits, and more time with your cuddly pooch
2. INCREASED SOCIALIZATION WHEN YOU OWN A DOG:
I can identify well with the ability of dogs to increase your level of socialization just from an anecdotal perspective: whether it is random people stopping me to ask his breed, his age on a walk, or having hour long conversations with my sister over the daily antics of Fred, I feel that I am interacting with people more. But less about what I think and more what science has been able to show: One study was able to show that participants in the study felt more involved in their communities and felt more social support in their lives when living with a service dog.
3. DOGS HELP PATIENTS WITH DEMENTIA STAY CALM:
Do you know anyone with any form of dementia? Alzheimer’s is a well-known form of dementia. Dementia is a growing problem in today’s society with the aging population of baby boomers and as many of you already know it is a very difficult illness to deal both for the patient and for the family and friends affected.
It is a disorder that usually leads to gradual memory loss and at the end stages patients sometimes cannot recognize even themselves. A lot of these patients become agitated, depressed and even aggressive. Homes that own a dog have been shown in several studies to increase the social behavior amongst those with dementia. Reducing their agitation and aggression is also commonplace.
4. DOGS HELP THOSE WITH AUTISM COPE BETTER:
There have many studies that show the benefit of having a dog for those with autism. Autism is a disorder which results in impairment in the social and communication skills of those affected by the disease.
Studies have been able to show that animal therapy can assist children with autism in their socialization skills. One study was able to show that children with autism were more playful, focused, and more aware of their social environments when interacting with a therapy dog.
Studies have also been able to show decreased levels of cortisol (a hormone that is at increased levels in the body during periods of stress) in those with autism when interacting with a therapy dog. This can mean that they are experiencing less stress physiologically.
5. DOGS HELP THOSE WITH CHRONIC PAIN DEAL BETTER WITH THEIR SYMPTOMS:
There are even studies out there that show dogs can help those with chronic pain control their symptoms. Prescription pain medication abuse is a serious problem these days in both the US and Canada. Overdosing on these medications is one of the top killers in women, and I have seen many patients come through the ER overdosed on prescription pain drugs – most of the time unintentionally. If there is a way to control your pain without the use of these dangerous and prevalent medications, would you?
6. WHEN YOU OWN A DOG, YOU ARE LESS LONELY:
Having a little (or big) companion next you can help those feelings of loneliness. Most studies showing this have been done on those living in isolated conditions, mainly nursing homes.
Studies have been able to show that those living in nursing homes find more peace and less feelings of loneliness when they have a “woman’s best friend” by their side.
THERE! YOU HAVE A SMALL YET COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF WHY DOGS ARE MAGICAL CREATURES AND WHY EVERYONE (THAT HAS THE CAPABILITY TO DO SO) SHOULD OWN ONE.
If you have a condition that you think would benefit from having a dog around, please talk to your doctor before investing in a pet dog.
NEED A DOG?
Contact the humane society close to you
NEED A SERVICE DOG?
Contact MIRA foundation: MIRA Foundation is totally dedicated to helping disabled individuals by teaming them with dogs bred and fully trained to respond to their adaptation and rehabilitation needs. All of MIRA’s services are made available free of charge to individuals with one or many visual or motor disabilities, and to children presenting Pervasive Development Disorders such as autism