Dogs, always regarded as humans' best friends, have been the area of many systematic studies looking into how they might improve our well-being. In this limelight, we'll show how your friendly doggie can benefit your health across the board.
Regarding to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, an estimated 78 million dogs are owned as pets in the United States.
It is not clear when k-9s were first tamed, but a study published last year boasts that, at least in Europe, dogs were tamed 20,000–40,000 years ago.
It is probably that humans and puppies have shared a certain relationship of companionship and mutual support ever since at the very least the Neolithic period — but why has this connection been so long-lasting?
Of course, these relatives of the wolves have in times past been awesome at keeping us and our dwellings safe, guarding our houses, our livestock, and our different material things. Through history, humans have also professional canines to assist them with hunting, or they have reproduced different quirky-looking species for their cuteness or elegance.
Still, dogs are usually — and might have always been — really valued companions, celebrated for their loyalty and seemingly constant readiness to put a smile on their owners' faces.
Here we outline the research that reveals how our pet dogs make us more happy, more durable when experiencing stress, and literally healthier, to name but a few ways in which these much-loved quadrupeds support our well-being.
How Dogs Keep You in Great Health
Numerous studies have suggested that having pups as pets is linked with much better physical health, as analysis of the present literature show. These findings persist.
Pups 'force' their owners to take daily workout.
Just past year, Medical News Today reported on a study that confirmed that having a dog lowers a individual's risk of premature death by up to a 3rd.
Additionally, researchers at the University of Harvard in Cambridge, MA, suggest that dog lovers have a reduced risk of heart disease.
Why is that? It is complicated to establish a causal connection between owning a doggy and experiencing much better health.
Nevertheless, the advantages may surface thanks to a series of elements associated to life style modifications that people tend to make after they choose to adopt a canine buddy.
The most dominant such lifestyle element is physical activity. There is no way around it: if you have a k9, you have to devote to two times daily walks — and often times even more.
According to a paper published in The Journal of Physical Activity and Health, pet owners are more likely to hike for relaxation purposes than both non-pet owners and people who have pet cats.
The outcomes were based on researching a cohort of 41,514 participants from California, some of whom owned dogs, some of whom had cats, and some of whom did not have any pets.
Moreover, some recent studies — including one from the University of Missouri in Columbia and another from Glasgow Caledonian University in the United Kingdom — found that grownups aged 60 and over enjoy much better health thanks to the "applied" work out they get by walking their pet dogs.
"Over the course of a couple of days, this additional time spent walking might in itself be sufficient to meet [World Health Organization] suggestions of at least 150 minutes of average to energetic bodily activity."
Canines can strengthen our well being not just as we grow older, but also much, much earlier than that: before we are even born.
Research published last year suggests that kids who were subjected to dogs whilst still in the uterus — as their mothers spent time around canines during pregnancy — had a reduced risk of developing eczema in earlier childhood.
Additionally, kids exposed to certain bacteria carried by pups also experienced a reduction of asthma symptoms, the researchers noted.
Pups Make Individuals Feel Great
Possibly the most instinctive gain of sharing your life and home with a canine buddy is that puppies give you "feel-good vibes" almost immediately.
Dogs are frequently used as treatment creatures simply because they have a calming effect on people.
It is really difficult not to cheer up, even after a difficult day's work, when you are greeted with — often vocal — excitement by a welcoming dog.
This, researchers describe, is due to the effect of the "love hormone" oxytocin.
"During the last decades," write the writers of a review that featured in Frontiers in Psychology, "animal support in treatment, education, and care has significantly increased."
Once we interact with dogs, our oxytocin levels shoot up. Since this is the hormone largely responsible for social bonding, this hormonal "love injection" boosts our psychological well-being.
Earlier studies analyzed in the review have revealed that dog lovers have more uplifting social interactions, and that the existence of canine friends makes people more trustful...and also more worthy of trust.
Further, puppies appear to reduce symptoms of depression and render people more resilient to worry. That is why k-9s are frequently used as treatment animals. As specialist Brian Hare, of Duke University in Durham, NC, noted in an interview for The Washington Post:
"puppies make people feel good, and their only work is to assist people in stressful situations feel better."
Experts hypothesize that therapy pups can improve the psychological well-being of kids going through cancer therapy, as well as help individuals diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) deal with troublesome symptoms or even avoid the onset of PTSD episodes.
What Clinical Research in Dogs Can Teach Us
Our canine companions could also give us clues and open new avenues of study when it comes to clinical research concerning our own health problems.
K-9s share many illnesses with humans; by understanding more about them, we can also learn more about ourselves.
A study that MNT included earlier this year reveals that canines share certain metabolic conditions — such as overweight — with their human owners.
Thus, understanding more about dogs gut microbiota and how they are impacted by eating habits could help us understand how best to tackle our own consuming behavior.
Like people, pups can also develop some kinds of cancer. Much like us, dogs can get brain tumors to similarly destructive result, so learning which genes predispose our canine companions to gliomas may also be translated into cancer study for human patients.
Moreover, a infectious form of canine cancer might shed light into how forms of cancer found in people have come to develop.
Pups can also experience specific features characteristic of dementia, such as impaired problem-solving capabilities.
Experts explain that by learning how cognitive tasks are affected in these quadrupeds, we may come to be better prepared to solve the riddle of dementia in the case of people, too.
"Dogs," notes 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 important features of dementia."
"So," she goes on to include, "understanding their cognitive capabilities could be valuable in helping us to understand the causes of this disorder in people and possibly test treatments for it."
Dogs are not just extremely loveable and frequently very funny friends whose antics power the Internet's store of memes continuously; their company also keeps us in good physical shape. Also, their health problems — unfortunately but endearingly — often mirror our own.
Most of all, nevertheless, we welcome them into our everyday lives — and have done so since time immemorial — because they instantly bring us the sort of joy and relaxation that we would alternatively have to work hard to get.
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