The study, written by Dr. Deborah Wells of Queen’s University, Belfast, for the British Journal of Health Psychiatry, found that dog owners tend to suffer less from ill health, have lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.
Citing a 1995 study, Dr. Wells stated that dog owners who had suffered heart attacks were 8.6 percent more likely to be alive one year following their heart attacks than patients that did not own dogs.
“It is possible that dogs can directly promote our well-being by buffering us from stress,” said Dr. Wells. “The ownership of a dog can also lead to increases in physical activity and psychological human health in a more indirect manner.”
Dr. Aaron Katcher, emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, has found “much evidence that social support is a critical variable in the recovery from many serious biological disorders, including psychiatric illness,” during the course of his studies on human and animal interaction.
A 2005 report, cited by Dr. Wells, written by the Techninon Institute of Technology in Israel, indicates that interaction with canine companions has therapeutic benefits for people with schizophrenia, providing emotional support and reality-testing impetus.
“I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 17. At age 19, the new psychiatrist I was seeing suggested to my parents that I get a ‘therapy dog’,” commented Sarah Lane on the report at www.DoggieNews.com. “My sheltie, Molly Jones, is 1 ˝ years old now, and although she was never properly trained or received her TDI (Therapy Dogs International certification) from the state, she is the best therapy I could ever ask for, constantly keeping me busy, active, and happier than ever.”