It has been long known that a dog is man's best friend. Dogs are always by your side. They are loyal, enjoyable company, hilarious and oh-so-cute. If only they could talk! But, the numerous health benefits that they provide to their human family members more than make up for their shortcomings. The Huffington Post states in its post titled 'The 10 Health Benefits Of Dogs': (...) having a canine companion is linked to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and decrease triglyceride levels, which lead to better overall cardiovascular health and fewer heart attacks.
It can't be stressed enough how some of the benefits of dogs can drastically improve the quality of life of certain sensitive groups and as we will discuss in this here, of Type 1 Diabetics specifically. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are attacked by the alpha cells. Insulin converts glucose into energy for the body. Unable to produce this hormone by themselves in their body, Type 1 Diabetics are required to inject it externally several times a day, into their bodies. For the purpose of this blogpost, let's divide the value that dogs add to the lives of those living with this condition, into Physical, Social and Psychological Benefits.
1. Diabetologists recommend that their patients engage in some moderate exercise everyday. Dog owners are way more likely to achieve their goal steps per day by simply taking their dog out.
2. Caring for a dog puts you in a routine and checking your blood sugar, giving your dog food, taking your insulin shot before your own meal etc. eventually becomes muscle memory.
3. Treks and physical activity that Type 1 dog-parents might indulge in for their dogs could be beneficial to themselves as well.
1. Dogs are popular with children. Seeing the fun and play between dogs and children can instantly lift the mood of an individual who is bogged down by the demanding health condition.
2. Participating in dog-related events lets Type 1 Diabetics meet other like-minded people and not feel lonely, something that the condition could do.
3. Dog birthdays are another reason to party! Celebration reduces stress levels which are more often high than not with Type 1 individuals.
1. The condition poses several challenges on a daily basis. Having a dog poses fun challenges like baking treats or planning a trip with the dog. These could be a fun respite.
2. Dogs are non-judgemental listeners and one can rant to them when needed about the hardships of the Type 1 lifestyle.
3. The stress release and comic relief that dogs provide is underrated. Have you seen a dog chasing its tail? Or better yet, a dog that has finally caught its tail and is surprised as can be? Hilarious!
If trained to do so, dogs can fetch sugar-testing kits and insulin pens from a different room of the house. Diabetes Assist Dogs can also monitor the smells in the air for a specific scent that is related to rapidly dropping or low blood sugar levels. They alert their Type 1 human by pawing or nudging. It's safe to say that living with a person with Type 1 Diabetes lets dogs use their skills and charm to full potential! Pretty paw-some, right? (Sorry, we had to!)
Keep an eye on our Social Media platforms for information on Animal Assisted Therapy at DOGGOS & DIABETICS: THE POP-UP in association with DIABESTIES.
- Pooja Bhave