Science Supports a Trip to the Dog Shelter
Thursday, May 11, 2023
When a local family decided to give in to the pleading of their three children and get a dog, friends and neighbors were shocked. Their children were in college and high school, with only a couple of years living under their parents’ roof remaining. Everyone wondered what could have possibly changed their minds.
“We couldn’t see past busy church, sport, school and work schedules,” said the mom. “The thought of having something else to feed, care for and clean up after was the main reason I kept saying no.”
What convinced them to visit their local dog shelter? “Science,” said the dad. Instead of promising that they’d help with walks and waste clean-up, the kids would mention the results of one of a growing number of studies involving canines. The dad said they were amused at first but couldn’t help but be impressed the deeper the kids dug for unique reports.
For instance, a scientific study released by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute reported that petting a dog for 18 minutes increased immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in the saliva of humans. Higher levels of immunoglobulin lead to stronger immune systems.
A September 2022 study from Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, proved that dogs can differentiate between a person’s normal smell and smell caused by stress. Much like some dogs can sense an epileptic episode and be trained to support the person with epilepsy from injury, the dogs in that study sensed panic attacks and helped keep their person grounded.
There’s a large body of evidence that dogs are good for our mental health, especially as we age. The family is interested in keeping their aging grandparents engaged and active and have studies reporting on canine companionship bookmarked for review.
Finally, a 2020 study in the Journal of Allergy and Immunology concluded that growing up with a dog lessened the chances of young children developing food sensitivities. One child has multiple food allergies. “Now we think we should have listened to our kids all along.”
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