Home » Home and Family » Pets

Can A Dog Improve Your Health?

Aug 17, 2007
There's nothing that relieves stress and makes us laugh like watching a new puppy chasing a ball on wobbly legs. And what fun to play 'tug of war' with a favorite toy! Just having your dog in your lap to pet and cuddle brings soothing relaxation.

Maybe there's more to the phrase "man's best friend" that we realize.

For years care givers have been inviting pets into nursing homes. Not only does this promote social interaction for the residents as they pet and talk to their furry friend, but they also become less withdrawn and begin talking to the other residents even after their pet's visit is over. This seems to help break the cycle of loneliness and depression that many of them feel. And stroking a dog or cat can actually reduce a person's blood pressure! Petting a dog encourages the use of hands and arms and encourages stretching and turning movements, especially if your visiting dog is a bit active. What a wonderful gift a dog can offer, but the dog benefits, too, by receiving loving affection in return.

For those who would like to work with such a program, either with your own dog or with dogs provided by a service, the first rule is that visiting dogs must be social. The whole idea is to facilitate positive interaction between the dog and the people who are visited by them. If the dog doesn't seem eager to participate, the interaction will be less than ideal, and the rejection felt by the person could be more harmful than no visit at all. They truly need to feel that the dog accepts them and likes them. When selecting a dog for one of these programs, look for one that is calm, friendly and tolerant. The visit shouldn't be forced on the person or the dog. Successful visits should be pleasurable for both.

Because of the successful results with nursing home residents, this concept has expanded to hospitals, where many studies are now exploring the health benefits of association with companion animals. Pet-facilitated therapy (PFT) is now being used often as a treatment method for patients with physical and emotional problems.

The Red Cross has begun using dogs and other animals following traumatic events to help people feel better and have something to help divert their attention from their suffering. Children especially can benefit from having a puppy to play with. It temporarily takes the place of a pet that may have been left behind until they can be reunited. Playing with volunteer animals gives people a break from their mental and physical stress and makes them more able to cope with what they are going through.

Children love animals of all kinds - particularly dogs. One amazing study is finding that dogs play a big part in helping children who are learning to use prosthetic arms and legs. They can use their new arm to brush and groom a dog, which helps them learn to grasp objects and become more confident with their ability to use their new limb. For those with a new leg, playing ball with a dog helps them to improve their balance and maneuverability. The emotional therapy is priceless, too. The children begin to gain self-confidence again and learn to focus on their abilities rather than their limitations. In return, the dog learns to interact with children and receives some TLC, too.

For autistic and mentally disabled children, health workers and teachers are discovering that playing with dogs motivates them to learn and develop new skills and try new things. They find ways to interact with the world around them that didn't exist before.

But what if someone is feeling a bit down and depressed, and they aren't in a situation where a companion dog is part of their therapy. There are lots of options. A visit to the local animal shelter may find them adopting a dog who has that irresistible 'please take me home with you' look. What a joy for both the dog and the new owner.

If having a dog isn't the best solution, the animal shelters and local veterinarians love to have volunteers to walk the dogs and pet them. Maybe a neighbor travels a lot or works long hours. They would love to have someone take their dog for a walk. Visit a local dog park and laugh as the dogs execute their playful antics. Find a doggie frisbee contest to watch the amazing skills of these highly trained dogs. Or just visit a friend who has a dog that's cute and friendly. The possibilities are endless.

Pet therapy works because dogs and other animals create joy in people's lives, and they help them to enjoy that life more. Dogs are non-judgmental and willingly provide exercise, play and laughter. So get healthy - play with your dog and pet them often. They truly are "man's best friend."
About the Author
Janet Winter is a web designer, owner of three e-commerce sites, and writer on many topics including dogs, babies, wild birds, the Internet and travel. Her e-commerce sites are: APamperedDog.com , WildBirdGoodies.com and WelcomeBabyGifts.com
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 104
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Artists
    • Gambling
    • Humanities
    • Humor
    • Movies
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Tattoos
    • Television
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Boating
    • Cycling
    • Extreme Sports
    • Fishing
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Hunting
    • Martial Arts
    • Running
    • Scuba Diving
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources