Most people know that people who own dogs live longer, have lower blood pressure, less anxiety and better immune systems. They also have more social interactions, Alzheimer’s patients with dogs in the home have fewer outbursts and men with dogs have lower triglycerides and cholesterol. These are the scientific conclusions of research about family pets that can be easily found.
But there are even more benefits and some of them are pretty astounding. Dogs are being trained to assist in the medical field. For instance, dogs can be trained to sniff out low blood sugar in diabetics, picking up odors beyond human capacity. Dogs can also be taught to prod the diabetic with a cold nose, fetch a blood glucose testing equipment or press a phone button that calls 911.
It could be scent or it could be a subtle change in behavior, but some dogs are able to sense a seizure coming on as much as 30 minutes before it occurs. This means the dog may be able to alert the person, go for help, move objects out of the way and lay down next the person during the seizure.
More and more people with post traumatic stress disorders, such as soldiers returning from war zones, are benefiting from dogs as companions because they can they can ease anxiety in a number of ways.
Dogs also have the remarkable ability to detect certain kinds of cancers. One example is being able to reveal the presence of bladder or prostate cancer cells in urine. Some researchers have shown that dogs can recognize lung and breast cancers by smelling the patient’s breath, and they can spot melanoma by licking a person’s skin.
A dog’s brain may be only one tenth the size of a human’s, but his nose more than makes up for it: dogs have 40 times as many scent receptors as humans. It is truer than ever that dogs really are man’s best friend.
References: My Health News Daily; Web MD.
This article was originally published in Pathways Residential Care Journal - Issue 4. To download this issue in PDF format, or past issues, visit our newsletter archives online at www.pathwayshealth.org/publications.