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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Friends with benefits

Dogs are good for our well-being. For doubters, here’s scientific evidence

fitness Updated: Jun 21, 2019 18:31 IST
KumKum Dasgupta
KumKum Dasgupta
Hindustan Times
Puppy love
Puppy love(Photo: Shutterstock)
         

Anuko is all of five and he is a star on Instagram. The gorgeous Husky is an ambassador for special dogs and is a free-of-cost mood elevator for those who follow him on social media. In an emotional post on Instagram couple of months ago, Jasmine Milton, her owner who suffers from bipolar disorder, wrote about how she had almost given up on life, but was saved, thanks to Anuko’s love.

For those who doubt the powers of dogs, here’s some solid scientific evidence. According to a Swedish study published in the prestigious journal, Nature, canine ownership reduces cardiovascular risk in their owners by providing social support and motivation for physical activity.

The study of 3.4 million Swedish adults between the ages of 40 and 80 years over a period of 12 years found that having a dog was associated with a 23% reduction in death from heart diseases and a 20% lower risk of dying from any cause.

Previous studies such as the one by the American Heart Association in 2013 suggested dogs relieve social isolation and depression – both linked to an increased risk of heart disease and early death.

Dog lovers also confirm their healing powers. Recently, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha lost his “cute little ball of fur” Oliver, aka Ola, Olsy, Oga, Olly, a Lhasa Apso. In a moving tribute in dailyO, Jha wrote: “We got Oliver after we lost our earlier dog, Amadeus… At core, he [Oliver] was a small fragile bundle of joy, and within days of coming home, we were experiencing sunshine all over again, lifting the morose darkness that had momentarily enveloped us all” (italics mine).

In response to an email from Hindustan Times, he gave another example: “I was feeling gutted on May 23 (election results day). I reached home past midnight, emotionally drained. But for my dogs none of that mattered. I was their Superman hero. It was like the Congress had just won 543 seats”.

And why just talk only about dogs that are lucky to have a loving and caring home? Are they only capable of spreading positive energy? What about the strays that stay in the harshest possible conditions and are often brutalised by human beings?

“Despite such bad experiences, I have always found them positive and loving… when they come to the dog shelter, we realise that their capacity to give love has not decreased at all… Even though they live in worst of conditions, they teach us understanding, hope and compassion, and strengthens us in many ways,” says Dorothy Ghosh, who runs Kalyani Animal Welfare Foundation in Delhi. “Micky, a senior dog, was abandoned by his family and sent to my shelter. He lived with us for a year and a half before he died, proving that his ability to trust and love humans was intact… in fact, I think stray dogs should be treated as community pets. They are great stress busters and can teach children a lot about caring and sharing”.

Pet Insurance

The Indian pet care industry is booming. According to India Pet Care Market report listed on Research and Markets, the sector has advanced with a compound annual growth rate of 23% between 2012 and 2017. It’s not surprising then that insurance firms have come up with plans for dogs too.

1.Pet Insurance schemes in India cover veterinary expenses incurred for the treatment of a pet. Some plans also cover death or loss of an insured pet.

2.According to bankbazaar.com, New India Insurance, United India Insurance and Oriental Insurance offer pet insurance schemes

3.Pet insurance covers: Death due to accident, illness contracted while the policy is in effect, treatment expenses, accident while in transit (via rail, air or road), loss/ theft of the pet; incapacitation; accidental poisoning; third Party liability

4.Pet insurance Exclusions: Willful or malicious injury to the pet; injury or illness arising out of neglect or unskillful handling of the pet; loss or injury due to war, foreign hostility, revolution, rebellion, military upheaval, etc; death due to rabies, distemper, Viral Hepatitis, Viral Enteritis, Leptospirosis; illness that has been contracted prior to taking the policy.

First Published: Jun 21, 2019 18:31 IST