Even before we begin, let’s remove all blame and guilt from our discussion of this very interesting issue. We all affect each other, all the time, and this is particularly so for our dogs. Our dogs are so open and loving, so deeply connected to us, that they cannot help but be impacted by how we are—both physically and emotionally.
There is a very interesting and well studied scientific phenomenon: “Entrainment”. This is where two systems that are connected will come into synchronization with each other over time. The classic example is when you place several mechanical metronomes (the little machines with a swinging arm that goes tic-tic-tic that musicians use to keep in time as when they practice) on a flexible surface, all ticking at the same speed but not in synchrony.
In a fairly short span of time, they will all be ticking together in perfect unison as if by some weird sort of magic—this is because the physical vibrations of the sound and movement as they tick interact in a way that causes them to synchronize.
Humans and dogs are way, way more complex than such a simple machine, but we have one organ that ticks in a steady rhythm for our whole life—our beating hearts. The heart beat is far more than simply physical—it emanates a very strong and coherent electromagnetic field.
In fact, the physical body of all living animals is embedded within an electromagnetic field that extends quite some way outside of the edges of the body that we can see with our eyes. These electromagnetic fields have a pattern of vibration, and they can entrain with other living beings. I believe the same is true of feelings—or perhaps certain feelings have a unique electromagnetic pattern, as any feeling causes very concrete physiological changes.
For example, fear causes the sympathetic nervous system to activate, releasing adrenaline, increasing heart rate, shutting down the gut, and so on. So this is the physical aspect, and it’s been shown that people in the same family, and also dogs with their humans, will strongly respond to changes in each other’s heart rate.
How on Earth Can How I Feel Affect My Dog?
Our dogs are extraordinarily empathic beings (I define empathy as the ability to feel the inner experience of another being in your own body). Have you ever walked into a room when someone just had a fight? They both may be sitting there pretending that nothing happened, but you can always feel the tension in a room like this.
So when you walk in after a stressful day at work, angry and frustrated, your dog feels all your feelings (both the ones you are consciously aware of and the ones that you have suppressed). This may trigger the production of the same pattern of biochemicals and hormones in your dog’s body that you have going on in your own body.
Also, I believe the energy patterns of physical disease are caused by long term patterns of feelings and emotions in the body. There can be entrainment with your dogs on this level too, though it usually takes quite a long time to happen. (Although, strangely enough, I find that people often rescue dogs that turn out to have the exact same health issues as they do—and I can’t begin to explain this!)
Ok—take a deep breath, as this is the point where most of my clients start beating themselves up, feeling guilty, and punishing themselves. Please don’t do that. It doesn’t help, because it only makes you feel worse, which then will make your dog feel worse too.
Be kind to yourself, and simply use this new awareness as a motivation to make positive changes in your life that will benefit both you and your dog. You both affect each other in good and not-so-good ways, and this is all part of the journey. The good news is that when you take action to care for yourself, you are caring for your dogs too!
Does Your Dog have Similar Health Issues to You?
I see it all the time in my practice. Nearly every time I diagnose a health issue in a dog and then ask the owner if they (or anyone else in the family) has similar health issue, the answer is a surprised “Yes!”. I find this especially to be true in the case of anxiety or trauma issues.
Work on Your Own Health to Improve your Dog’s Health.
The key point here is that to help your pet, you have to help yourself. You need to learn how to relax, to process negative feelings, to bring your awareness into your body and to gain a high degree of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). This is not easy, as often there are many years of patterns and habits deeply ingrained into your psyche. You may need assistance from a skilled therapist in some cases to resolve painful and stressful emotional states.
Other things you can do are to meditate, practice Yoga or Chi Gong, or spend time every day consciously relaxing your body (simply lie on a mat for ten minutes and relax on every out-breath while continually bringing all of your awareness into your physical body).
If you and your pet have serious physical ailments that are similar, make sure that you find a good holistic doctor for each of you and get onto a holistic health plan. To get well, you’ll nearly always need to face, embrace and process emotional issues. This is not easy, as I know only too well from my own recovery from Chronic fatigue Syndrome.
Eat only healthy, fresh whole foods (lots of fresh fruit and veggies for the humans), preferably organic and a good proportion of raw food is a great idea. Be sure to cut out all processed foods (no fast/takeaway foods, nothing in a packet), sugars, processed dairy products, refined carbohydrates (and even with whole grains it’s best to limit them to 2-3 meals a week) and of course cut out all stimulants (yes, that means coffee and chocolate) and alcohol.
BUT! don’t try to do it all at once, because you will get a detox reaction and also have to face all the emotions you’ve been suppressing with these highly addictive foodstuffs. This is emotionally challenging, but totally worth it. Good luck with your journey of helping yourself emotionally and physically to help your dogs be happier and healthier!
You might also like:
- Dogs in Pain Part 1: It can be Surprisingly Hard to Tell When Your Dog is in Pain!
- Dogs in Pain Part 2: Treating the Pain—What are Your Options?
- Back Pain is a Severely Underdiagnosed Problem in Dogs
- Medical Cannabis: What You Need to Know to Use This Amazing Medicine for Your Dogs Safely
- It’s About Time: What Dogs Really Need
- Dominance Theory: The Outdated Idea that Harms Our Dogs
Seaq68/Pixabay, Josep Curto © 123RF.com, Counselling /Pixabay, Trinity Kubassek/stocksnap.io.
Many clients remark that Dr Edward has a way with animals quite unlike any other vet they have ever seen. Pets who are normally fearful, or who would never approach a stranger are drawn to him. He has an intuitive ability to connect with and understand animals.
Apart from being a vet, Dr Edward is a singer/songwriter, loves gardening, and likes to paint. He is owned by Pearl (a very graceful, willfully disobedient Whippet), Mitzi (an out of control Shitzu/Silky cross), and Parvati and fred (2 lovely cats).
Latest posts by Edward Bassingthwaighte, BVSc (see all)
- Your Physical and Emotional Health Affect Your Dog Strongly! - January 19, 2019
- Dogs in Pain Part 1: It can be Surprisingly Hard to Tell When Your Dog is in Pain! - July 8, 2018
- Dogs in Pain Part 2: Treating the Pain—What are Your Options? - June 24, 2018