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Dogs and their Positive Impact in Mental Health

Written By macky on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 | 12:57 AM


Dogs and their positive effects in the overall mental well being of people has long been looked into by researchers, with studies indicating how valuable human and canine relationships can be.

Though not exactly focused on the effects of a dog-master relationship, the 1997 blockbuster hit As Good As It Gets, starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear, did touch up over how beneficial dogs can be as companions, depicting the effects a toy dog had in soothing the curmudgeon character of Melvin Udall played by Nicholson.
Bair Justice, PhD, author of Who Gets Sick: How Beliefs, Moods and Thoughts Affect Your Health, had once looked into the link between “stressful chemicals” norepinephrine, Cortisol and plaque buildup in arteries, and establishes the positive effect of dopamine and serotonin in keeping “stressful chemicals” in check.

People take drugs like heroin and cocaine to raise serotonin and dopamine, but the healthy way to do it is to pet your dog, or hug your spouse, watch sunsets, or get around something beautiful in nature,” shares Justice, who happens to be a dog owner himself.

A study which involved the blood pressures of stockbrokers – a stressful field in its own – reveals that study participants who had adopted a dog or cat had lower blood pressure readings when compared against those who didn’t.

Also, a number of research touching up on the impact of having dogs in households for people afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease note that those suffering from the condition are liable to encounter fewer anxiety attacks, which is a huge positive in itself.

Studies also note that children who had grown up with household pets tend to be more responsible and more tuned for social situations, well balanced and healthy in their societal outlooks and bearing.

Bottom line, though no in-your-face conclusive facts and figures are set in stone, the positive impact of dogs in the mental well being of persons is one upside in having man’s best friend around.



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