August 21, 2016

Being the proud pet parent of a dog isn’t just for “dog people!” It’s for everyone!

Multiple scientific studies have proved that dogs have a number of positive effects on our health and well-being. Just as medications and medical treatments are indicated for everyone that needs them – the argument can be made that everyone needs to hug a dog to stay healthy!

  1. Hug a dog because it may lower your blood pressure! Several studies have shown reduced blood pressure in dog owners compared to non-owners. Don’t believe it? It’s so true, that all you have to do is picture it. Try it next time you are a little nervous at the doctors and get a high blood pressure reading. Ask them to retake your blood pressure, but this time picture hugging your dog in your head. Chances are your blood pressure result will come down to normal the second time around.
  2. Hugging a dog may lower your cholesterol! It is well documented that dog owners have lowered concentrations of plasma triglycerides and cholesterol compared to non-dog owners. The argument can be made that in addition to taking medication once you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, you should also be prescribed – a new puppy!
  3. You are more likely to survive a heart attack if hugging your dog is a habit!  Studies have shown improved survival rates following heart attacks in dog owners compared to non-owners. Simply having a dog living with you, and the occasional hug, may save your life.
  4. Dogs are people healers, so hug one just to say, “Thank You!” – companion dogs are used successfully in “animal assisted therapy” programs in hospitals, both to treat specific medical conditions and to improve patient outcome. The treatment is so successful that its practically standard practice to have a program at most hospitals.
  5. Hugging a dog isn’t just a physical benefit, we benefit emotionally from the interaction. It is clear that the human-animal bond has an important psychological effect on humans (and probably the dog). There have been multiple documented cases of people suffering from depression being helped significantly by their bond with their dog. This bond seems to be especially important in cases of PTSD or a mutually experienced trauma as those cases seen in war veterans and their dog.
  6. Hug a dog because they make us better humans! Dogs have been shown to increase physical activity and social contact, which may also influence human health. In fact, one of the earliest documented studies associated with this phenomenon looked at the increased social interactions and well being of dog keepers in their communities.
  7. Hug a dog because they would most certainly hug you back if they could!! A recent study showed that dogs and humans both release endorphins when experiencing close physical contact such as a hug. Endorphins are the ‘feel good’ chemical that people release when they hug each other. Chances are these chemicals are behind the many health benefits that hugging a dog can promote. Well, everyone likes to feel good, so it’s very likely that if a dog had opposable thumbs, it would hug you!
  8. Hugging a dog is a form of restraint, which is excellent training – especially for a puppy. When you hug a dog you are essentially restraining it (in a very good way). When used behaviorally, the hug immobilizes the dog and gains their focus and submission. Done strategically and properly, this is a great training exercise that promotes good behavior.
  9. Hug your dog to comfort him/her! As humans we sometimes need hugs because we are feeling down, or anxious. Animal behavior research shows that the domesticated dog differs significantly from its wild wolf counterpart when it comes to behavior and human interaction. In short, they have many of the same anxieties, fears, worries, and needs as us. They are dogs living in a human world that is not built for them. An occasional hug may be needed just to remind them all is ok.
  10. Finally, hug a dog because they truly are our best friends. Dogs love unconditionally and there is little they won’t look past or forgive. Have you ever been judged or put down by whomever you call your human “best friend?” Well that simply wouldn’t happen from our dogs. They truly are our best friend because they are always there for us no matter what, without judgment or prejudice. And, if for no other reason – that deserves a hug.Blog post written by: