Golden Years: Nine
Ways a Dog Boosts Your Health
By James Jacobson and Kristine
What if there was a simple way to reduce stress, prolong and
improve the quality of your life, banish the blues, and best of all,
decrease the number of doctor visits?
There is! Get a dog. Here are nine ways that having a dog can boost
Improved heart health. Dog owners have lower blood pressure,
cholesterol and triglycerides than non pet-owners. All these reduce
the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Recuperate from illness faster. Seniors in hospitals respond better
to treatment and recover more quickly when they have contact with a
dog or therapy animal.
Increased chance of surviving heart disease. A clinical research
project of heart-disease patients showed that having a dog was the
strongest social predictor of survival, even compared to having
family and friends.
Longer life expectancy after a heart attack. The presence of a dog
improved survival rate even more than having a spouse or close
friend. One study showed that men who had a dog were six times more
likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than men without a
Reduced stress. Just sitting and petting a dog reduces your heart
rate, and therefore stress level.
Regular exercise. It goes without saying that dogs need to be
walked, but did you know that even seniors who don’t walk their dogs
are more active than seniors without dogs?
They don’t call dogs man’s best friend for nothing. Ninety-five
percent of senior dog owners talk to their dog. Over three quarters
report that their dogs help when they feel sad. Almost that many say
that their dogs help when they feel physically bad. In general,
seniors with dogs are better able to tolerate social isolation that
seniors without dogs.
Fewer doctor visits. A study of a thousand Medicare patients showed
that seniors with dogs had nearly ten percent fewer doctor visits
compared to seniors without dogs. Other studies put his figure over
twenty percent, a strong reflection of the health benefits of having
Improved well-being. Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxiety attacks
and fewer mood disorders when allowed to have a dog nearby. Dog
owners report fewer headaches, fewer bouts of indigestion and less
difficulty sleeping. Studies show that elderly people caring for a
dog improve their overall health compared to their peers living
without animals in the home.
Need one more reason? Be a lifesaver. Adopting a dog from a shelter
saves a dog’s life, too. Senior dogs are too often passed over at
shelters for younger dogs or puppies with a longer life expectancy
and more energy. But senior dogs have a lot to offer. They are often
already housebroken and trained, they are not as active as younger
dogs, and they are generally more interested in companionship than a
run in the park.
Many shelters have adoption programs to match senior pets with
senior people. They will help you choose a suitable dog and often
provide ongoing support—sometimes at reduced or no cost.
Having a dog may not be the answer for everyone, but if you’re
interested, call your local shelter to find out more. There may be a
Rover, a Spot, or a Freckles ready to give you a whole new leash on
Bow Wow Bliss: Five
Ways to Meditate with Your Dog
Meditation is as simple as a walk in the dog park.
Here are five ways to get started on a non-dogmatic meditation
Six Ways Your Dog Can Save Your Heart
Science has finally caught up with what dog lovers have known for
years—that having a dog is great for your health. Here are six ways
science has proven that living with a dog promotes better heart
Compassion in Times of Crisis: How Your Dog Can Help
People have a special connection with their
pets. This sacred bond of unconditional love is a natural starting
place for healing after tragedy, for the victims and for the rest of
Dogs - Man's Best Friend
Owning a dog can be a positive, enjoyable experience for the entire family. Keep in mind however, that the decision to own a dog is an important one that should not be taken lightly.
If You Want a Friend, Get a Dog!
Dogs as pets date back at least as far as the days of Pompeii, where the remains of a dog stretched out next to a little boy were recovered from the rubble at Pompeii.
James Jacobson and Kristine Chandler Madera are
authors of How to Meditate with Your Dog: An Introduction to
Meditation for Dog Lovers, which presents a non-dogmatic approach to
meditation. To fetch a free chapter from the book (chapter 3 “The
Three Un-Dogmas”) and the introduction from the audiobook go to
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