Dogs Are Awesome (and good for your health)

I’m definitely an “animal person;” Specifically, I like furry animals who want to snuggle and have emotional connections. Non-furry animals are okay on a case-by-case basis, but give me a big fuzzy lump of love any day and I’m a happy girl.

As it turns out, there’s a reason “dog people” are so intense about their canine companions. It’s because dogs are good for our health.

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My Service Dog Maggie and me

HEART
The American Heart Association studies link pet ownership to success in surviving heart attacks ​and assisting people with high blood pressure keep it under control. Its study considered patients using drug therapy alone versus pet-owning patients following drug therapy. There was no comparison. Dogs and cats were the difference!

EXERCISE    
Pet owners, on average, get more exercise than
fullsizeoutput_271a.jpegother people. Pet owners may not be hitting the gym, or breaking a sweat on a run, but they’re getting up, moving around, and are generally more active than non-pet owners.

COMPANIONSHIP
Pet owners are less likely to experience mental distress from loneliness. In addition to being companions to their owners, pets encourage and provide opportunity for more interaction with other people. We are social creatures, and so are they. Plus, they’re loyal and if we’re good to them, they love us more than we may ever know.

PROTECTION
This is more than that loudly barking guard dog. Pets also exhibit behaviors warning of oncoming environmental events. True story- my dog Abby had behaviors preceding earthquakes when we lived in California! She knew it was coming. Dogs can also warn us about our own health. Heart conditions, panic attacks, seizures – dogs are brilliant and like “Nana” in Peter Pan, can truly be our nurse maids. My Maggie detects when my stress is nearing dangerous levels and helps warn me about panic attacks before they happen. Dogs offer protection

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My daughter with our service dogS Maggie and Rosemary

STRESS
Back up to the last part of that protection paragraph. Dogs help with a variety of health conditions including chronic stress, anxiety, and panic attacks. Sitting with a dog and petting him is calming to your central nervous system. It’s a type of mindfulness. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I can testify it is nearly impossible to be present with one of my dogs actively petting her, and have an increasing anxiety level. There is quite the opposite effect.

Beside all that, they’re fun and wonderful! If you’re not a dog person, I’m honestly sad for you. If you are, now you have more of a reason to act on your puppy love tendencies!

Anyone interested in adopting a dog should do some research before taking the plunge. The last thing you want to do is get a breed for which you are not well suited. There are many “quiz” type of activities online you can use to narrow down a good match. Here’s a link to one by the American Kennel Club. 

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