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Doggone It! Can Pets Improve Your Health?

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Doggone It! Can Pets Improve Your Health?

CatDog.jpg

Written by:

Karen Barrow -

Coming home to find Fido wagging his tail or Felix purring at the doorstep may be doing a lot more for your health than simply warming your heart. A new look at studies on pets suggests that your furry (or scaly, or feathery) friend may be linked to better physical and mental health, especially for the elderly.

Evidence for the health benefits of pet ownership has been conflicting. While early studies concluded that pets help to reduce the risk of asthma in children and cardiovascular disease in adults, more recent data has found otherwise. But researchers in the recent review, published in the British Medical Journal, point to the close relationship between pet and owner that drives the positive benefits.

"The main issue may not be whether pet ownership confers measurable physical benefits, but the role that pets have in people's lives," writes Dr. June McNicholas and colleagues.

Man's Best Friend

Studies have found that pet owners may benefit from their companions in one of two ways. First of all, pets promote social contact with other people. Dogs force individuals who live on their own to get out of the house for walks, while also creating a "social catalyst," aiding interaction with others.

But the innate exercise involved in owning a dog may confer benefits, too. In fact, one study found that dog owners were more likely to survive one year after a heart attack than cat and non-pet owners, an outcome that may be caused by the physical benefits of dog walking.

Besides helping individuals get out of the house, McNicholas suggests that pets often fill the hole that individuals may miss when living alone.

"Close human relationships have a powerful influence on wellbeing by providing emotional support," she notes.

Who's Really the Master?

While it is no surprise that having close human relationships seems to be connected to lower anxiety, better reaction to stress and improved recovery from stroke, heart attack and cancer, studies show that having a dog or cat emulates the emotional support found in a close friendship. However, a close relationship with a pet can interfere with proper medical care.

Some studies cite that as many as 70 percent of pet owners would ignore a doctor's advice to get rid of a pet if they were diagnosed as allergic to it. Even worse, some seniors report avoiding medical care altogether, worried that a diagnosis requiring long-term hospitalization or placement in a nursing home would mean giving up their beloved pet.

To counter this, McNicholas emphasizes the importance of doctors being aware of these concerns and offering alternatives to simply abandoning a pet. Losing a pet, for whatever reason, can cause more distress and grief for a patient already coping with an illness.

"People do not own pets specifically to enhance their health, rather they value the relationship and the contribution their pet makes to their quality of life," she adds.

SOURCE:- 2006 Healthology, Inc.

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Pets are the best! :hearts::bump:

My dog came in and cuddeled with me this morning, it's such a nice way to wake up with this warm little body snuggled up to you. Whenever I am really down he's there for me, if I am sick he sticks to me like glue.

I can't imagine not having pets, they give so much to us.

Misfit

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hmm, I am not so sure I agree with the statement regarding the exercise benefits of cats being less than that of dogs - my cat is really athletic & needs several good workouts a day, usually accompanied by me. Yes, I have to run around the apartment too, really throwing toys hard & being quick on my feet. She is unusual for a cat & I wish I had a big safe open space for her to play in!

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Perfect timing, I have to get rid of my cat because my landlord will let everyone in my complex have animals but our apartment. I love my kitty, and have been scheming a way for me to keep her while I find a way to move out of this house, but I am on a lease/housing assistance, and pretty much screwed.

Yeah, other than my music, the cat is the only positive thing in my life right now, and she was helping me a lot. It can really help people cope when they have something they can be affectionate towards.

My brother just got on disability, so he can't live with me either, or else they will take away my mother's housing assistance, so he is homeless and wants to try living with the cat in his car for a while, until one of us works something out. Even though this cat really likes car rides a lot, that is definately not a permanent solution, because it is bad enough to be homeless in your car, but trying to take care of an animal as well probably isn't going to work for very long.

This is so depressing... I don't want to give up my cat, she is so happy here, and I will miss her a lot.

Edited by chaku

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(((((chaku)))))

How sad!!! I hope you can work out something soon, so you can keep your cat.

Karen (ados, currently on as Admin)

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I think we all know (well, at least us pet owners) that our pets are one of the best things in our lives. They are our children. You can get upset with them, you can love them with kisses and huggles, you spoil them, you discipline them. They are a life we didn't create, but a child we helped develop.

My 8 year-old cat brings out alot of emotions in me. She's the best thing currently in my life. She allows me to say to myself, "I have to live to take care of her". She means that much to me. Therefore, the bad thing about this is... if she passes, it will crash my emotions and mental state. Not a good thing. Will I pass with her? Why of course not. But, I seriously don't believe I will ever be the same again, nor want another cat for a very long time. She's my best friend. A bit silly and crazy, but there is such a strong connection that no one here would quite understand it... it's something that has to be witnessed, and only a handful of people who have witnessed are sympathetic of why I would go insane if she does pass.

So, it's a catch-22. Pets (or in this case, my situation) are essential for the well-being and companship of others, but like humans, it can leave a horrible scar when their lives become only memory.

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Stroking a cat has been proven to lower blood pressure.

However, the responsibility surrounding pet ownership caused my anxiety levels to rise until I couldn't cope with anything. I didn't realise at the time: it was only after my spaniel was pts [24/02/02]that I was able to relax. No more worrying!

She was a PAT-dog [Pets As Therapy] registered with the charity so that I could take her to the Old peoples' retirement home. She loved visiting; they loved giving her biscuits! I've some lovely photos of her with the old folks. I really got into the idea and worked as co-ordinator for a few years, encouraging other owners to join the scheme. It's a great success in the uK.

But I can't own animals any more because caring causes me anxiety - having to take my two cats to rescue broke my heart. <weeps softely>.

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Well I have be beautiful cat that was a feral kitten

she comes on the bed every morning for a cuddle and again at bedtime

then I have three wonderful sighthounds - sighthounds are rather catlike by nature - so can walk the dogs and on those days I am at my lowest they seem to know and want to stay near me - the unconditional love they have to share is very healing

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They sure can make you alot happier thats for sure.

I loved it when "my" dog would crash through the door at night checking to see if I was okay. And he'd sometimes just jump on the bed and stay there for a while. So sweet.

When living at my mom's place, I actually switched rooms so I could be with the cats. (They occupied a small room which they seemed to love) I am really allergic to them, but I loves them so much and it won't **** me (yet *wink* )

Animals can sense it when you are sad or happy or whatever, they can be a great comfort indeed.

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I wouldnt be without my Border collie!

And I have been there when several consultants have told me to get rid of the dogs (used to have a Boxer dog too) as I have Brittle Asthma type 1 and multiple severe allergies on top of the depression that is caused by one of my asthma medications (namely long term stoeriods)!

But I am lucky my consultant now has said IF I ever proved allergic to the dog thats left (amazingly I dont react to dogs YET) he would rather put me through expensive treatment of immunisation (made specifically for me from a sample of my dogs fur) than watch me deteriate JUST because I had lost what little company I physically have!

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I find it's very hard to get depressed with stuff breaking around me etc, when I can play with my cat.

My PC busted a while back, I had an urge to throw the d*** thing out the window or just inflict damage on it someway and in strolled the cat.

Just a few strokes and he was purring away, when you can make an animals day just by doing that it puts things into a different perspective. How can I let a non living thing get to me that much??

A lot of things really don't matter when there are real joys like this.

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Unfortunately, due to allergies, a dog or cat has never been an option for me. I've even 'tried out' a few non-allergenic breeds but alas, I still react.

But I'm an animal lover, and life without a pet just doesn't feel right! Fortunately I'm not allergic to feathers! I have parakeets and recently brought a small parrot into my home, and I am so glad I did (yup, she's my avatar!). Being handraised, she needs human companionship the way many dogs or cats would. It's given me something to look forward to every day, which is especially important during my recovery. Not to mention, despite her small size, she has huge character, and watching her (and the others) is better than cable. :hearts:

Big or small, pets make wonderful companions. And they can bring us a sense of harmony and unconditional love when we are facing difficult times.

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I was wondering if the bird was yours Iggy. She's adorable.

I have my pet as an avatar too!

I don't know what I'd do without her. Sometimes the only reason I get out of bed is because she needs fresh food and water - and if I don't get up, she starts licking my face, or nibbling my hair :hearts:

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Thanks Rabbit, she is tickled pink by the compliment (or, well, purple really).

Your little one is sooo sweet also. She sounds like a wonderful companion too.

I know what you mean about your little one getting you out of bed. I get 'told' if Murphy doesn't get her breakfast on time! But I have to laugh because her scolding sounds a bit like a maniacal giggle!

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I definitely agree that pets can improve your health. My dog is a great addition to my life and she's great company. Funny how we are able to more responsible for our pets than we are to ourselves sometimes.

There was a very funny article in the Delta Airlines inflight magazine last year about Americans and their pets. An overwhleming majority of people siad that they thought their pet was a better listener than their spouse or SO! :hearts: When one of my friends was going though her divorce, she used to come over to my house basically to hang out with the dog--she loved how the dog would get up in her lap and make a big fuss over her, no matter what mood she was in.

And I have met so many of my neighbors through walking the dog!

Anyway, I'm a big pet lover and know that they provide as many benefits to us as we do for them.

KA

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I think that dogs can improve your health because they can give you unconditonal love that some many of us are looking for. I have seen at the local hospitals where I live they bring thearphy dogs there. I saw this one huge big dog and I was so amazed how well it behaved. He was so gentle, now I rember it was an English Mastive. After petting him I felt so relaxed and loved. Because he wanted the attention and so did I. I would love to have a small dog where I live but there are no pets allowed, BUMMER. Oh well I'll just have to enjoy other peoples pets then. LOL :hearts:

Edited by dolphingirl

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I think that dogs can improve your health because they can give you unconditonal love that some many of us are looking for. I have seen at he local hospitals where I live they bring thearphy dogs there. I saw this one huge big dog and I was so amazed how well it behaved. He was so gentle, now I rember it was an English Mastive. After petting him I felt so relaxed and loved. Because he wanted the attention and so did I. I would love to have a small dog where I live but there are no pets allowed, BUMMER. Oh well I'll just have to enjoy other peoples pets then. LOL

Petting a dog reduces both your heart rate and the dog's heart rate! :)

The good thing about 'borrowing' a dog is that the dog will not wake you up at 5am to go for a walk, rain, snow or sleet notwithstanding! :hearts:

But my dog makes me laugh out loud at some point every day, so it's worth the effort.

I hope you get to keep enjoying other people's pets!

KA

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I am so glad to have my pets...sometimes it felt like they were my only friends in the world!

It's frustrating as there are many people who do not understand how important pets are to some people. I had 6 cats, 3 of them died within 3 months, and people did not understand why I couldn't just pick up and move on. They didn't understand I needed time to grieve and say goodbye...

At any rate, pets are wonderful! :hearts:

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I have 3 boxer dogs, they are my best friends, I'd rather be with them than anybody else. The best part of my day is watching them run and play on the beach when the tide is out. They have given me reason on some days to get up in the morning. I love them. :hearts:

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dogs rule =). they do improve your health... the walking, the playing... and in the long run it helps your memory, prevents some stages of alzheimers because you always have somebody that you need to take care of... at least that's what i've read....

~adorabelle

:hearts:

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I think I would be a happier person if I could bring my babies to work. Especially Katie - I have four rescued cats but it is pretty clear Katie has been abused in her past. I feel bad for her because she is alienated by the other 3 cats. Two of them are litter mates and one is a gentle soul some unappreciative person surrendered to the SPCA. This cat waits for me to come home everyday in the window. He always brings a smile to my face. I worry about Katie who is always by herself and the two brothers - one is a little dare devil but purrs so loud he wakes me up. He likes to sleep on me and then Jasper likes it when I get off the couch (which is unusual) so he can sit in the warm spot. Jake, Jasper, Cassidy and Katie. I live for them and my mom who is 86 and my best and only friend.

Doggone It! Can Pets Improve Your Health?

CatDog.jpg

Written by:

Karen Barrow -

Coming home to find Fido wagging his tail or Felix purring at the doorstep may be doing a lot more for your health than simply warming your heart. A new look at studies on pets suggests that your furry (or scaly, or feathery) friend may be linked to better physical and mental health, especially for the elderly.

Evidence for the health benefits of pet ownership has been conflicting. While early studies concluded that pets help to reduce the risk of asthma in children and cardiovascular disease in adults, more recent data has found otherwise. But researchers in the recent review, published in the British Medical Journal, point to the close relationship between pet and owner that drives the positive benefits.

"The main issue may not be whether pet ownership confers measurable physical benefits, but the role that pets have in people's lives," writes Dr. June McNicholas and colleagues.

Man's Best Friend

Studies have found that pet owners may benefit from their companions in one of two ways. First of all, pets promote social contact with other people. Dogs force individuals who live on their own to get out of the house for walks, while also creating a "social catalyst," aiding interaction with others.

But the innate exercise involved in owning a dog may confer benefits, too. In fact, one study found that dog owners were more likely to survive one year after a heart attack than cat and non-pet owners, an outcome that may be caused by the physical benefits of dog walking.

Besides helping individuals get out of the house, McNicholas suggests that pets often fill the hole that individuals may miss when living alone.

"Close human relationships have a powerful influence on wellbeing by providing emotional support," she notes.

Who's Really the Master?

While it is no surprise that having close human relationships seems to be connected to lower anxiety, better reaction to stress and improved recovery from stroke, heart attack and cancer, studies show that having a dog or cat emulates the emotional support found in a close friendship. However, a close relationship with a pet can interfere with proper medical care.

Some studies cite that as many as 70 percent of pet owners would ignore a doctor's advice to get rid of a pet if they were diagnosed as allergic to it. Even worse, some seniors report avoiding medical care altogether, worried that a diagnosis requiring long-term hospitalization or placement in a nursing home would mean giving up their beloved pet.

To counter this, McNicholas emphasizes the importance of doctors being aware of these concerns and offering alternatives to simply abandoning a pet. Losing a pet, for whatever reason, can cause more distress and grief for a patient already coping with an illness.

"People do not own pets specifically to enhance their health, rather they value the relationship and the contribution their pet makes to their quality of life," she adds.

SOURCE:- 2006 Healthology, Inc.

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Ahh its so true, my cat is the best - probably the most dumbest creature on the planet: the switch which tells a cat that it should stop washing itself is definitley broken on mine, it covers itself in drool, drools constantly when you start to stroke it and has only just learned to meow at the age of 15 - its really more of a croak. She's soo affectionate though, if i have a baggy top on and im lying on the floor she'll come up and crawl inside my and settle in the sleeve, if you sit still for even a minute she's on you :hearts:

And she's named snork, after snork maiden from the Moomins! Wouldn't change her for the world, she's priceless!

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