Researchers down under have discovered an additional lifesaving benefit of having a dog in your life. According to a recent study found that when people were reunited with their dog after being apart, their heart rates began to quickly sync up with the more relaxed heartbeat of their dog.
Researcher Mia Cobb of Monash University said, “If we can decrease our heart rate by hanging out with our animals, that’s something that can really benefit the community.”
Dr Craig Duncan, who participated in the study said, “Stress is a major killer in today’s society and, as we get busier and busier, it is something that is really important for us to try to help with.”
But those of us who are dog lovers all know about the lifesaving benefits of having a little woof in our lives.
Even the American Heart Association says a dog can benefit your heart health.
Harvard Medical School found the most obvious benefit of having a dog in your life was the love and companionship they can give.
The National Institutes of Health funded one study that looked at 421 adults who’d suffered heart attacks. A year later, the scientists found, dog owners were significantly more likely to still be alive than were those who did not own dogs, regardless of the severity of the heart attack.
Doctors have also found there were substantial emotional health benefits as well from dog ownership.
“When you feel securely attached to this living being, there are biological brain effects that reduce stress response, so it may affect your breathing rate or blood pressure or oxygen consumption or anxiety level,” says psychiatrist Dr. Greg Fricchione. “There was even a recent study in the journal Science about how oxytocin is boosted in both the dog and the human when a dog owner stares into eyes of the dog. That’s really fascinating.” Oxytocin is one of the body’s “feel good” chemicals and also plays a role in social bonding.
Other research suggests that pet ownership may hold special benefits during childhood. “When children are asked who they talk to when they get upset, a lot of times their first answer is their pet,” says Dr. James Griffin, an expert in child development and behavior. “This points to the importance of pets as a source of comfort and developing empathy. In fact, therapists and researchers have reported that children with autism are sometimes better able to interact with pets, and this may help in their interactions with people.”
And besides all of those benefits of a loved dog in our homes and lives, let’s not forget about the tremendous benefit dogs bring to senior centers and hospital bound patients who can just love to love a friendly dog.