There’s something very curious that I’ve noticed in my work as a vet over the last 23 years. I see it again and again. I have a dog come in for a consult, take the history, find out what’s going on and make a diagnosis. Then I ask the human in the room if they or anyone else in the family has a similar health issue.
More than half the time it turns out that someone in the family has the same sort of health problems as the dog (usually the person they’re most strongly bonded with). I find this deeply fascinating. And there are some very important implications of this to consider when it comes to getting your dog well, especially when treating chronic health problems.
There’s a very clear link between the health of the human and the health of the dog. The scientific orthodoxy can’t even see this, usually because it’s too far outside the box of their belief systems.
Why Does Your Health Impact Your Dog?
Before we dig into this, it’s important not to feel guilty or to blame yourself for your dog’s issues. It’s no-one’s fault. It’s a simple consequence of how you and your dog are connected and interact in relationship to each other on several levels. Your dog isn’t ‘taking on’ your stuff. You’re not causing your dog harm.
So how does this happen?
Our dogs are supremely empathic beings. I define empathy as the natural sensory phenomenon whereby one being experiences the feelings of another in their own sensory awareness. To simplify, a dog will feel in their body what the human is feeling.
Our dogs’ bodies are exquisitely sensitive antennae. (Humans can be too, though most have had the natural empathetic sensitivity shut down on a conscious level thanks to socialization.)
I know this happens, because I experience it when I’m treating dogs with the Whole Energy Body Balance method. I’ll connect hands-on with a dog, and suddenly I’ll feel a strong feeling of perhaps fear or sadness that I know isn’t mine.
For example, just the other day I was kneeling down beside my lovely Whippet, Pearl, when there was an unexpected (and very loud) crack of thunder. Pearl has a thunder phobia, and as the sound crashed into our awareness, I felt her sudden jolt of fear right through my body.
This connection of feeling, this empathetic bond between you and your dog, is profound and deep. If you have anxiety, your dog will feel your anxiety in their body, and over time this may push your dog into an anxious state of being.
Entrainment Is Another Important Key
I believe it goes even deeper than empathy, due to another well studied phenomenon: entrainment. This is when any two systems with patterns of vibration will tend to synchronize with each other.
The classic example of this is to place any number of mechanical pendulum clocks on the same table. They will all be ticking at different times at first. Within a short space of time, all of these clocks will all come into harmony, ticking in unison.
There is a wealth of evidence looking at something called Heart Rate Variability (HRV) S
A key aspect of strong social bonding is shared biological states. I believe this is driven by a combination of empathetic connection and electromagnetic entrainment. The heart is the primary driver of our (and our dogs’) electromagnetic field. This energy field expands quite some distance beyond the physical body.
And we haven’t even touched on the research that shows that dogs somehow know when their humans decide that it’s time to head home. So your dog can sense or feel things without any physical connection that science can yet understand.
This reminds me of a story I read many years ago. An Australian soldier in the second world war was sent home for a short break. He told no one that he was coming home, but his dog met him at the train station, 5 miles from his home.
The take home message here is that physiological synchronization is an inevitable result of a close, loving, trusting relationship with another being.
What this means, to put it a bit more simply, is that there’s a spontaneous synchronization of a whole lot of body rhythms when you connect with your dog in a long-term, loving relationship. These can be healthy and unhealthy patterns.
I believe this is why and how our dogs and us often share common health issues – and of course also why having a relationship with our dogs has important health benefits as well.
To Heal Your Dog, Heal Yourself!
To heal your dog, you have to start by healing yourself. This is why I always encourage dog owners to work on their health and well-being. I believe that in many cases, the only way to truly heal a dog with chronic health issues is to support the human involved to connect with themselves and to heal.
This can be emotionally challenging, and you may need the support of a skilled therapist, a naturopath, energy healer and so on in addition to taking your dog to a holistic vet, feeding them well, etc. It’s often a long-term project, too, so be kind to yourself. The healthier you become emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically, the healthier your dog will become too.
You and your dog are so deeply connected. To be aware of this can open up new ways to support a healthy, happy, long life for all the family.