Coronavirus and the positive impact on the canine population
Article and photo by Kathy Fallert
With all the COVID-19 craziness, I saw an interesting post on Facebook recently. It said, “The real winner of this pandemic are the nation’s dogs who are experiencing unprecedented levels of people being home.” In that same spirit, April 10 is National Hug Your Dog Day. The number of people who are at home working or doing online education has exploded, and although you may be feeling cooped up, it’s a good time to remember that spending time with your dog can actually improve your health.
Several studies have shown that hugging your dog can lower your blood pressure, your heart rate and your cholesterol. People with PTSD or depression can be helped significantly from a bond with their dog. Hugging releases endorphins in both dogs and humans as well as the hormone oxytocin, also referred to as “the cuddle hormone.” Hugging can strengthen your bond, decrease your stress and show your pet that you care.
Additional studies have shown improved survival rates following heart attacks in dog owners compared to non-owners. According to Chief Medical Officer for www.justfoodfordogs.com, Dr. Oscar Chavez, “As humans, we sometimes need hugs because we are feeling down or anxious. Animal behavior research shows that the domesticated dog differs significantly from its wild wolf counterpart when it comes to behavior and human interaction. In short, they have many of the same anxieties, fear, worries and needs as us. They are dogs living in a human world that is not built for them. An occasional hug may be needed just to remind them all is okay.”
Keep an eye on your dog’s body language. If your dog turns his head away, lowers his ears, closes his eyes or opens his eyes very wide, your dog may be feeling stressed by the hug. A dog’s natural instinct is to be able to run away from something that is stressful. A hug can have your pup feeling immobilized. If this is the case with your dog, a pat or a good scratch on the belly may be the preferred course of action.