Getting my ducks in a row!
I apologise but this is the next guest post from Indiana Lee not the one I published yesterday.
Maximizing the Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Dog Ownership
Dogs do so much for us and our health. They help us overcome depression, prompt us to move more often, and give us joy through their play and cuddles — sometimes it feels as though they’re the ones looking after us!
But, not everyone who owns a dog maximizes the health benefits that our canine companions can bring. Oftentimes, owners get lazy and fall out of a regular walking schedule, or use their dog as an excuse to stay home and avoid travel or social events.
Finding ways to take advantage of the health benefits that dogs can bring is crucial for owners. So, here are a few tips to help you get the most from your relationship with your pup.
Dogs and Mental Health
The positive impact that dogs have on our mental health is gaining recognition amongst researchers and healthcare providers. There are a few different theories as to why dogs are so good for our mental health, but the leading idea involves the chemical oxytocin.
Ann Robinson, writing for the Guardian, calls Oxytocin “the so-called ‘hug’, ‘love’ or ‘cuddle’ hormone”, and is the chemical that is present when we form deep, meaningful relationships. This chemical is present when we form relationships with our parents or children, but is also at play in the pet-owner relationship.
While the research on oxytocin and mental health is still in its infancy, we do know that dogs help us combat stressors and mental health conditions. It should come as no surprise that service dogs can help folks who suffer from PTSD or anxiety manage their conditions. But, dogs can also help anyone who is struggling with stress from day-to-day sources.
Dogs and Physical Health
Dog owners spend about 200 more minutes a week walking than folks who don’t own a dog. This has a range of welcome health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular function, more effective immune systems, and a stronger muscle-skeletal system.
But, thousands of dog owners do not take their dogs out for a walk or to a local dog-play park. This may be for perfectly valid reasons like a disability, but if you can walk your dog, yet choose not to, then both you and your dog are missing out on the incredible health benefits of being outdoors.
You don’t need to start hiking mountains to enjoy the physical health benefits of dog walking. Start slow, with a walk that lasts about 15 minutes. This will ensure that neither you nor your dog will be “over walked”, which can lead to conditions like arthritis and joint pain. Preferably, aim to walk on grass or soft surfaces as these will be easier for your pup to walk on because they won’t burn their paws.
Modifying Your Home
You might not realize it, but the design and structure of your home significantly impact the health and wellbeing of your dog. By making design choices that improve your dog’s quality of life, you can expect to have a healthier, happier dog who will reward you with plenty of affection and attention.
First and foremost, you need to make sure your home is pup-proof. This means you need to remove any hazards like hanging objects or harmful substances like human food and cleaning chemicals. Following this, you should maintain a clean home, where your dog won’t choke or fall ill by eating something you’ve left lying around.
Once you’ve taken care of the basics, you can get a little more creative about what you choose to include in your house. You can, for example, include pest repellant plants that are also safe for your pup that will keep mosquitoes and other pests away from both you and your dog. Small changes like buying a dog bed for your office can also make a big difference to your dog’s quality of life.
By taking the time to keep your home clean and dog-safe, you can live with peace of mind knowing that your dog is happy, healthy, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Travel With Dogs
Many folks mistakenly believe that they can’t take their dogs with them when they travel, or that their pet will put a wrench in their travel plans. This couldn’t be further from the truth — bringing your dog with you on your travels is a great way to stimulate them, and will only improve the connection you have with your canine pal.
The key to ensuring you have a good time on the road is all about choosing the right mode of transportation. If you’re planning to travel with your dog in the car, then you might want to consider investing in dog cages for cars and make use of factory-installed barriers which keep everyone safe in the event of an accident.
You can also take your dog with you via other methods like trains or via planes. Nowadays, many airlines allow you to keep your dog with you while you fly, rather than having to place them in the hold. Trains are much the same, as many dog owners choose to travel with their pets via a good old locomotive.
Traveling with dogs is also great in the winter, as many dogs are well suited to colder climates, and love nothing more than playing in the snow and cold weather camping. This can help you beat the winter blues, and improve your overall health and wellness. Just be sure to follow winter-safety travel considerations that are designed to keep you and your four-legged friend safe.
Maximizing the mental and physical health benefits of owning a dog is tricky. If it’s been a while since your last walk, then it can be daunting to get out on the road again. Likewise, the idea of traveling with a canine pal is overwhelming for many folks. But, by planning ahead, and creating an environment your dog will enjoy, you can be sure to get the most from the special relationship you have with your four-legged friend.
Dogs are the most amazing and wonderful animals ever. As has been said on this blog many times before dogs offer us unconditional love and that love presents itself in many ways.
I have written before about our Oliver.
Oliver’s eyes are to die for! His ability to read the smallest indications of an emotion on our human face is incredible.
Then there is Brandy. What a love!
Then we have Cleo who came as a puppy to be with Pharaoh.
Again the eyes! We still miss him.
We are now down to five dogs: Pedi, Sheena, Oliver, Cleo and Brandy.
However all the dogs that we have had the greatest pleasure to love are still in our hearts.