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The Health Benefits of Dogs

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” ~ Roger Caras

Having a rough day? Make it an “arf” day instead! Dog owners worldwide know that a sloppy wet kiss from their furry companion can turn their frowns upside-down. It’s a proven fact – pets make us happier. But dog owners don’t need scientific facts; they already have first-hand experience.

Just as dogs make us happier, they also make us healthier.

Dogs Reduce Loneliness and Depression

Many studies have proven that loneliness and depression are reduced with a furry companion to come home to. Dogs help individuals dealing with depression focus on something other than their typical negative thoughts because dogs depend on you for their food, water, exercise and potty breaks. They force you to get out of bed or off the couch to take care of their needs. Also, it’s calming and stress reducing to pet and snuggle with a dog or cat. Playing with a pet elevates serotonin and dopamine levels, neurotransmitters known to have pleasurable and calming properties. And a pet’s unconditional love and acceptance make anyone feel better about themselves. There is no getting around it, petting, playing with and sharing your home with dogs reduce stress.

Dogs are Good for Your Heart

Stress reduction is good for your heart as well. The American Heart Association has linked dog ownership to a reduced risk of heart disease. Dog owners exhibit lower blood pressure in stressful situations and lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-dog owners. One study found that the hypertension of individuals with borderline hypertension declined significantly within five months of adopting a dog from a shelter.

Research at the State University of New York reported that for individuals already receiving hypertension medication, their blood pressure response to stress was significantly reduced when petting a cat or dog.

Studies have shown that heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those who don’t have a pet.

Dogs and Exercise

Dogs make great exercise companions, and the exercise is good for both of you. Dog owners are more likely to work out on a consistent basis when they have a canine exercise buddy; after all, once your dog gets into a routine, they can be quite insistent that you keep it. Studies indicate that dog owners are 34% more likely to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week than their non-dog counterparts.

Exercise will help you and your dog lose and maintain a healthy weight, help with heart health, help deepen the connection between you both and will eliminate a large amount of a dog’s behavior problems.

Stroking Your Dog Eases Chronic Pain

Just having a pet can help be a distraction when dealing with chronic pain. But stroking your dog also causes your body to release endorphins – the same hormone responsible for the runner’s high. Endorphins are also known to be powerful pain relievers.

Dogs and the Older Adult

When you retire or your children move away, dogs can give new meaning to your life. Caring for a dog brings you pleasure, while also boosting your morale and providing a sense of self-worth. Plus, adopting a dog from the shelter can provide a sense of fulfillment knowing you have saved their life.

Many shelters have special programs which help match seniors with the perfect furry companion.

Dogs and Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia

Studies have shown that having a pet in the home of an Alzheimer’s patient reduces their stress which means fewer behavior issues and anxious outbursts. Dogs can be quite intuitive, and often form a special connection with dementia sufferers. Also, dogs are a great source of positive, nonverbal communication.

Several organizations help families find a companion pet for someone dealing with Alzheimer’s: Pets for the Elderly Foundation, Pet Partners and Therapy Dogs, Inc.

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month was instituted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The American Humane Association have also chosen October to be Adopt a Dog Month. Slightly different names for one fantastic goal – to get as many great dogs as possible into the loving homes they deserve.

Overall, people who adopt dogs, versus purchasing through a pet store, are happier with the experience. Consider adopting from a shelter because:

  • You’re saving a dog’s life. Fifty-six percent of dogs and 71% of cats who enter shelters are euthanized.
  • Shelters are more open and honest about any issues or difficulties the dog may have, reducing unexpected problems when you get them home.
  • The dog’s veterinarian needs have been addressed, including spay or neuter, plus you will be aware of any required ongoing care.
  • Looking for a purebred? Twenty-five percent of dogs in shelters are purebred.
  • You don’t have to worry about possibly supporting a puppy mill like you do with a pet store purchase.

You can even search for your next adoptable furry companion sitting in the comfort of home using PetFinder, an online, searchable database for animals who need homes. With a directory of close to 14,000 animal shelters and adoption organizations, PetFinder has helped 25 million pets find loving homes through adoption for the past 20 years. They also have lots of great pet articles on their site such as a dog adoption checklist and tips for the first 30 days of dog adoption.

The Lodge at Summers Pointe

We at the Lodge at Summers Pointe are a well-established assisted living community located in the quaint town of Winchester, Indiana. We’re committed to ensuring everyone in our community experiences life to the fullest. We even offer short stay respite care so caregivers can have a break and adult day care so you can go to work or just have a day to yourself. If you’re looking for a reputable assisted living community or you need temporary adult care, contact us at the Lodge at Summers Pointe. Give us a call at 765-584-7676 or drop in during our weekly Walk-in Wednesday Open House. We can’t wait to introduce you to our vibrant community.