Dogs and Mental Health
“And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
It has often been supposed anecdotally that owning a pet can reduce stress and improve mental health. When my mother had to be taken into full time care, about 18 months before she died, the care home had a resident pet dog. My mother had always said she hated dogs, but she loved this one, and he certainly seemed to calm her, whenever he trotted over to her. For my part, if I am in the house by myself, and I have a decision to make, I will talk it over with the dogs! I know they don’t actually understand me, but I suspect that the fact I voice my thoughts out loud helps me make better decisions.
A recent study asked a wide range of people who were at risk of developing Alzheimer’s or bipolar disorders whether there had been pets in the home during their first 12 years – especially from birth to age three. It was discovered that, statistically speaking, those exposed to dogs from birth were as much as 24 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Another interesting aspect of the study is that exposure to dogs as a baby did not have a significant effect on bipolar diagnosis, and exposure to cats had no effect on either condition.
God created some animals with the ability to be domesticated, described as “livestock”. They are part of our everyday lives, and they are in a sense blessed, and also a blessing to us.
Prayer: Thank You, God, for enriching us with Your good gifts to us. Amen.
Author: Paul F. Taylor
Ref: Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Early-life exposure to dogs may lessen risk of developing schizophrenia: Findings do not link similar contact with cats to either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.” ScienceDaily, 18 December 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/12/191218153448.htm>. Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported.
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