Anyone who has a pet or service animal knows that there are many benefits to pet ownership. In addition to countless anecdotes, there is now scientific evidence to back that up. In the first part of this four part series, I would like to highlight the various benefits of dog ownership.
According to the February 9th, 2011 issue of myhealthnewsdaily.com, a dog owner is generally healthier than the average person. The author goes on to list seven health benefits to owning dogs, four of which are given here:
1. They can detect cancer. According to a 1989 case study in the Journal “Lancet,” a woman’s dog would not only keep sniffing a mole on her leg but once even tried to bite it off. That mole turned out to be a malignant melanoma. Some dogs, like Panda, an eight-year-old Black Labrador trained to detect colorectal cancer, was able to detect it in 33 of 37 breath and stool samples.
2. They can keep you active. This was supported in a 2010 study in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers reported that children who had dogs spent more time doing moderate to vigorous physical activity–a positive which lasted into adulthood, and included the elderly.
3. They can tell when you have low blood sugar. According to an article published in a 2000 issue of the British Medical Journal, nearly 1/3 of dogs living with diabetics exhibit behavioral changes when their owners’ blood sugar drops. Not only have dogs been reported to detect drops–sometimes before their owners–they have also nudged their owners into eating.
4. They can help you during seizures. Certain dogs are trained to alert individuals when they are about to have seizures by learning to recognize the subtle behavior and body languages that accompany onset. During an event, these service animals are trained to steer owners away from harmful situations. Though some investigators believe that the few studies that have been done in this area are flawed because they are more anecdotal than scientific, there seems to be at least some evidence that seizure dogs provide a beneficial service.
I’d love to hear in Reader’s Forum about the health and other benefits you’ve experienced from dog ownership.