I’m a cat person, but I have to admit that dogs are much more sociable.
They are loyal companions, always excited to see you, follow your every word and will never desert you. Simply put, they love you unconditionally and aren’t afraid to show it.
Research now shows there are also health-related benefits to spending time with these adorable, furry, four-legged friends.
Dogs can smell cancer.
Canines smell up to 1,000 times more accurately than humans. In multiple laboratory studies, dogs have been able to detect certain cancers by smelling breath or urine samples.
In one study, a Labrador retriever trained in cancer scent detection correctly identified 91% of breath samples and 97% of stool samples from patients with colon cancer.
Dogs can significantly improve your mood.
Cancer can cause depression and feelings of isolation.
Another study found that cancer patients who spent time with a therapy dog prior to treatment reported improved emotional and social well-being, even while their physical well-being was in decline during chemotherapy.
Dogs are good stress relievers.
Going through cancer treatment can be stressful and dogs can provide a welcome distraction.
Petting them releases endorphins that relieve stress and improve mood.
This can help patients forget about their pain or frustrations for a period of time.
Dogs are great company.
Going through cancer treatment can be a lonely experience.
Even if you have a strong support system, you may not be able to share your innermost feelings with them. Dogs are always eager to listen… and they know how to keep a secret.
Service dogs can aid in recovery and independence.
When most people think of service dogs, they think of guide dogs for the blind. But medical service dogs can also be trained to bark for help, retrieve a phone, assist in walking, and opening and closing doors.
They can even be trained to pick up dropped items or turn on/off lights and appliances. This can be especially helpful for cancer patients who have lost a limb or have difficulty getting around as a result of treatment.
Walking a dog is great exercise.
Adding some form of exercise to your daily routine, even during cancer treatment, will enhance your physical well-being and aid in your recovery.
Cancer can be exhausting. Research has shown that cancer patients who exercise regularly have 40% to 50% less fatigue.
In fact, pets of all types, including cats, horses, rabbits, even porpoises, have been used as therapy animals to elevate the mood and lower patients’ stress levels. Dogs, though, remain the most common therapy pet, especially in a hospital setting.
That little tongue is so cute!
Do you have a pet that helped you through your challenges with cancer?
Tell us in the comments below, and if you mention you have a photo, I'll contact you to post it here!