Paging Doctor Baxter!

Doctor BaxterIn cultures of the past, people have looked to the gods for their healing powers.  In today’s society, we look to the power of modern medicine and the care of nurses and doctors; however, maybe we should take a brief look into the healing power of dogs.

Dogs have long had special standing in the medical world. Trained to see for the blind, hear for the deaf, and move for the immobilized, dogs have become indispensable companions for people with disabilities.

But dogs appear to be far more than four-legged healthcare workers. Over the years, data on the larger role dogs play in health has trickled out from various corners of the world. One study found pet owners made 30 percent fewer visits to doctors!  Not only that, but another study has shown that owners of dogs and other pets had lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart attack risk compared with people who didn’t have pets. Okay, sure.  Maybe these pet owners weren’t making it in to their doctors enough because they were trying to pick out new toys for their amazing pets.  Yet, many experts believe that companion animals improve health at least in part by lowering stress.

Dogs, in particular, also have been shown to do remarkable things to improve the health of their owners. There are stories of dogs warning their owners of imminent health threats.  In some cases dogs seem to have an innate ability to detect impending seizures.

More recently, some studies have suggested dogs can be cancer detectors.  These studies have shown that simply by sniffing the breath of a person, some dogs can detect breast and lung cancers!

Oh the wonder of dogs and animal companionship!  Of course I am not recommending that you stop going to the doctor and rely solely on your dog.  Believe me, he doesn’t want that kind of pressure!  I am saying, however, that you should keep your friends close and your dogs closer!  You never know what they might save us from next!

Photo courtesy of Rusty Clark.

For more information on dog healing, visit: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/forget-the-treadmill-get-a-dog/

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