How Dogs Help Us Heal
Dogs have been there for us for thousands of years. They are companions, aids, friends, and healers. Dogs do a lot for us humans and one of the major things is to help us heal. Whether it's a time of crisis or an actual illness, here is more about what our canine friends do to help us heal.
Motivation and Responsibility
A couple of ways that dogs help heal is with motivation and responsibility. For a person dealing with substance abuse, depression, or any illness that makes them want or need to lie in bed, having a dog gives them the motivation to get up and take care of their furry friend. While this isn't true in all cases, it is in many.
According to Stephen Knight of Dallas, Texas:
Getting a dog eight months into recovery "changed my life," Knight says. "There's a lot of voids that you fill with drinking and drugs. Dogs can replace that with their love."
One thing that humans usually don't have for each other is unconditional love. With a dog, that's different. In fact, research shows that just petting a dog makes you feel better. This is because oxytocin is released. What this does is regulate breathing, decrease levels of stress hormones, and lower blood pressure.
Mental Health Healing
There is a reason that dogs are used for therapy after a major disaster, for those with PTSD, and as other forms of therapy dogs.
According to Psychology Today:
This ability, known as emotional contagion -- the spread of feelings between animals and people -- is gaining traction in the field of science. Recent findings from the University of Vienna suggest that dogs can sense emotions and even differentiate between good and bad ones.
Dogs take our minds off of the bad and even if it's just temporary, it is helpful in healing.
Physical Health Healing
Dogs help us with physical healing too. There are plenty of ways this is done:
Dogs lower stress in their human friends. Our furry friends help lower stress through a variety of means. Whether it's the calming effect of petting a dog or a listening ear, dogs help our stress levels.
Dogs help you get more active. Let's face it, our dogs need exercise, food, and water. Just walking your dog helps you get more active yet there are other ways too. Playing at the park, throwing a frisbee around in the backyard, and anything that gets you up and moving.
- Dogs help with chronic pain. It has been shown that petting a dog releases endorphins. And fascinatingly so, endorphins are a natural painkiller.
Dogs can detect drops in blood sugar. Dogs can sense when a person's blood sugar is too low through the breath of the person.
Dogs help with heart health. Evidence points to dogs helping with heart health. They not only get you more active but there is lowered stress, which is good for your heart.
- Dogs help combat allergies. Studies show that exposure to dogs at a young age helps minimize hay fever, asthma, eczema, upper respiratory illnesses, and more.
An Equal PartnershipJust like your dog takes care of you, you take care of your dog, too. Whether it's vitamins that help your dog get the nutrients he needs or the right shampoo for your furry friend, your dog needs care just like you do.
- Jennifer M