The dog prescription | Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust

The dog prescription

Dogs can help the development of children with learning and educational difficulties

In the presence of a dog, children with learning difficulties can display a more playful and focused mood and a greater awareness of their environment. The company of a dog is also found to prompt an increase in positive verbal and non-verbal behaviour.

Children that grow up with dogs are healthier and spend more time in school

Dog exposure in childhood can positively impact on immune development. Early exposure to dogs in infancy and childhood, can have a marked beneficial effect on immune development. Furthermore children owning a cat or dog were found to have an extra 9 days at school over the course of a year compared to those without pets.

Owning a dog helps reduce the risk of allergies in children, in particular asthma, wheezing and eczema

Regular dog exposure reduces the chance of children developing atopic dermatitis and asthma. As well as dog or cat ownership reducing the risk of allergies, children exposed to two or more dogs in their first year had even less chance of developing eczema or asthma. Dog ownership is associated with less wheezing amongst high-risk infants during their first year of life.

Dog owners make fewer visits to their GP and spend less time in hospital

Dog owners make 16% fewer annual doctors visits and spend 21% fewer days in hospital than non-dog owners. Those with canine companions are better able to handle stressful life events that can induce ill-health as dogs act as an important coping resource. It emerged that dog owning women in China took fewer sick days off work and had to be seen less by their doctor.

Dogs can reduce depression and improve mental well-being in humans

Dog ownership can contribute to the overall psychological well-being of people and dog owners can show a notable improvement in self–esteem. The presence of a dog during therapy sessions has been shown to highlight psychological benefits linked to limiting depression. Studies highlighted a decrease in patients' sense of loneliness, social withdrawal and showed notable improvement in depression levels.

Dog ownership aids the recovery of post coronary patients

Not only can dogs lower the risk of coronary heart disease but dog owners are also more likely to recover from coronary surgery. There is an 84% survival rate for non-dog owners and a 94% survival rate for dog owners. Furthermore, dog owners were 8.6 times more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than those without a dog.

Owning a dog can help lower blood pressure in children and adults

Being in the company of a dog significantly lowers blood pressure and can even help control borderline hypertension. Dog owners also have reduced blood pressure levels when reacting to stressful situations. It only takes between 5-24 minutes for a dog to reduce a human's blood pressure.

Dogs can help the elderly by combating feelings of loneliness and isolation

Dogs have been found to encourage the elderly to socialise and therefore help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. This can also be said for those in nursing homes; residents that spent time with a therapy dog for 30 minutes three times a week measured significantly lower loneliness scores than those without dog interaction.

Dog owning adults and children are more physically active and healthier than non-dog owners

Much more physical exercise is undertaken by dog owners in contrast with non-dog owners, primarily as a result of a dog. Dog owners in fact walk an average of 44 minutes per week that's an extra 2,288 minutes of walking a year than non-dog owners.

Dogs can provide great emotional support for humans during periods of stress and anxiety

The simple presence of a dog can help lower levels of stress and anxiety – the key factors associated with ill-health. In fact the presence of a pet dog appears to have a similar positive impact on stress levels as the company of a human friend.

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