It really is. We’re not just saying that because we sell animal blueprints to dog picture lovers. Owning a dog really is good for your health. There are medical facts and figures to back it up. If you covet canine companionship and like to spend lots of time with your dog, studies conducted in the UK show that you will live longer and stay healthier throughout your many years on this planet. Dr Deborah Wells from the Canine Behavior Centre of Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, has released some interesting findings on the subject and published them in the British Journal of Health Psychology.
The study conducted by Dr. Wells shows that domestic dog ownership can actually prevent disease. A survey of dog owners and non-dog owners showed a pattern of longer life and better overall health for the dog owners, including a significantly lower number of people suffering from cancer, seizures, or hypoglycemia. It also showed that those who saw early warning signs of these conditions were more likely to seek help for them in a timelier manner.
Dr. Wells also did research into the therapeutic roles dogs play in aiding disabled individuals, rehabilitating prisoners, and helping schizophrenic patients stay calm. In every instance, the presence of a dog brought about better results than methods employed without the dog. Armed with these statistics, she was able to come up with some conclusions about the positive affect that domestic dogs have on the lives of human beings. They actually make us healthier people.
The UK study by Dr. Wells isn’t the only research that suggests better health for humans who own dogs. An Israeli study done on mental health patients clearly shows that the presence of a dog helps focus and general well-being. Another UK study conducted a few years ago shows that dogs have a positive effect on children going through painful treatment programs. Some of the evidence is a little weak on other studies, but the cumulative result of all research done on the subject is hard to ignore.
One of the most compelling pieces of evidence presented by Dr. Wells came from a 1985 study of heart attack victims who survive one year after their attack. The number of dog owner survivors is almost ten percent higher than that of non-dog owner survivors. It was hypothesized in the study that the increased physical activity that comes from owning a dog may contribute to this, as does the psychological buffer against stress that the dog provides.
To those of us who have a dog picture of our favorite canine on the wall or mantelpiece, none of this comes as a surprise. The companionship and love of a dog gives all of us something to live for. The sense of responsibility we develop caring for an animal gives us a better sense of self-worth, a reason to pay attention to our own health.