November 2 marks All Souls’ Day– a day to reflect and commemorate the souls of Christians who have died. Death is, of course, a part of life but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Dogs serve as loyal and comforting companions to those grieving; simply petting a dog can make grief feel less cumbersome.

Dogs don’t have to be certified therapy animals to help their human counterparts– all dogs have the ability to help and heal us in ways that nothing else can. In fact, science has proven that interacting with a friendly dog reduces cortisol levels through oxytocin release. Simply petting a dog can decrease levels of stress hormones, regulate breathing, and lower blood pressure. Dogs are essentially therapists with fur; they have excellent listening skills, and they won’t judge you or talk back.

According to The New York Times, a Japanese study found pet owners made 30 percent fewer visits to doctors, while a Melbourne study showed that owners of dogs and other pets had lower cholesterol, blood pressure and heart attack risk compared with people who didn’t have pets. While the better health of pet owners may be attributed to any number of circumstances, many experts believe companion animals improve health at least in part by lowering our stress levels.

Not only are they adorable, dogs are incredibly intelligent and some have even been trained to sniff out cancer! Many also believe that a dog’s saliva has healing benefits; if you have a wound, let a dog lick it and you will heal faster.

In fact, researchers at the University of Florida discovered a protein called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in saliva. Wounds that were treated with NGF actually healed twice as fast as untreated wounds, indicating that if a dog does lick a humans wound, it could in fact lead to a faster recovery.

From emotional wounds to physical ones, a dog’s healing power knows no boundaries. If you’d like to learn more about the powers of our furry friends, check out these books:

* Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs by Sharon Sakson
* Every Dog Has a Gift by Rachel McPherson
* The Divinity of Dogs by Jennifer Skiff

Dogs deserve all the love and care we can give them, for they do so much for us! Give your pup an extra hug and kiss today, and be sure to bring them in to Puff & Fluff for a nice pampurring– they deserve it!