Pets are not only our best friends but can also be lifesavers and therapists. They not only reduce stress and provide companionship when it is needed, but they also contribute to the improvement of our health. Pets are also known to be able to assist us with emotional and physical healing.

Here are 6 ways that show how the power of dogs can be the best medicine, and change your life for the better!

  • Dogs can detect diseases

Anyone who has been on a walk with a dog knows that they can pick up many scents in the grass and on the road, and we all know what great sniffer dogs they are to help combat drugs and other contraband at airports. At the same time, it has been shown that they can also smell the signs of diseases even before the disease is diagnosed. For instance, it is known that firefighters are at risk for certain types of cancer (urinary and respiratory) because they are often exposed to certain toxic fumes and chemicals. A Canadian organization called Cancer Dogs is hoping to reduce that risk through screenings with dogs trained to detect cancer by sniffing the breath and alerting when they smell signs of disease.

This program started in 2011 and more than 20,000 firefighters have been tested since then.

  • Dogs are great teachers for children

Not only dogs, but generally all pets and children are inseparable. Dogs are not only faithful friends, with whom children can discover the world and share joys and sorrows. Dogs can facilitate communication, especially in children with autism, who feel uncomfortable in some social situations. A permanent contact of autistic children with pets can contribute to their desensitization and encourage positive social behavior.

Besides, pets affect children’s physical health. Various studies have found that young children growing up with animals can reduce the risk of developing asthma or allergies later in life.  You can read more about the numerous other benefits for children here.

  • Dogs can reduce stress

Dogs are great stress relievers! In our hectic world, many people suffer from work-related stress. Unsatisfactory working conditions, poor management, poor organization, the bad climate in the team can cause stress. If you are an office worker and experience stress, then all you need to do to de-stress is to caress your pet! The trick why pets make you feel better is that communication with them encourages the release of “happy” hormones – oxytocin and dopamine. In the meantime, the hormone of stress – cortisol decreases.

  • Dogs are amazing therapists

Dogs can contribute to emotional, mental, and social wellness of seniors and others in care situations. Dogs help lift the atmosphere, provide companionship, improve self-esteem, combat loneliness, boost activity levels, lower anxiety, reduce the feeling of hopelessness, and even delay aging! Pet therapy is implemented in many ways.  One example is that residents are able to spend time with live-in pets, relatives can bring pets for a visit, and in some cases, those moving into nursing homes are allowed to bring their pets along. There are also special volunteer pet therapy dogs such as delta therapy dogs that are brought into care facilities to brighten up the day by offering patients an ear to scratch, a chat and a paw to shake!

  • Dogs are better value than online dating

 Dogs are perfect icebreakers; they will help you start a conversation with other pet owners or find people with the same interests. Social interactions give you the opportunity to make new friends, and decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation in dog owners. Of course we are also now learning that being social affects our health and longevity – so the message is get a (rescue) dog, go for a walk and live longer!

  • Pets teach responsibility, accountability and how to love

Any pet in the home encourages responsibility – not just for children, but for families a pet offers a great opportunity to teach children the importance of responsible pet ownership. Pets can give the invaluable experience of how to take care of a living being, be responsible and purposeful. After all, pets require care and attention, so they help cultivate a harmonious, purposeful and responsible person.

Pets have been used in a prison environment to provide the same lessons for the inmates who may have little social and life skills.  They take care of their dogs, which come from rescue situations, in every way – exercising the dogs, cleaning up after them, playing with them and for some, this is the highest level of responsibility they have ever had. Therefore, entrusting the prisoners with responsibility is an important step in the preparation for life on the outside, and in some cases they are allowed to take their pets with them.  This is win-win as the rescue dogs get a home and care the in-mate gets a soul mate!

Anyone who has a pet knows that they are the source of unconditional love and they offer limitless support, but many don’t understand that their benefits to the community can go far beyond that. Establishing a special bond with your pet as with a family member promotes loving companionship that contributes to your mental, physical health, and a sense of wellbeing.

What special power do you think your dog has?  Tell us below!

This article has been contributed by Linda Mathews, editor of Animals have always been a passion for Linda and she enjoys animal science, animal husbandry, training and market research in the animal world.

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Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure for the past 12 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals.

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