a dog with his or her owner

BENEFITS OF PETS ON  YOUR HEALTH!

Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your favorite pet. Research shows the tremendous benefits of pets on your health helping you live a healthier happier life and positively enhancing your mental and physical health.

In a WebMD article, pet researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD and professor of psychology at Miami University declares: “We found that pet owners, on average, were better off than non-owners, especially when they have a higher-quality relationship with their pets.”

What are the benefits of pets on your health?

 

People owning a dog are less likely to be sedentary and they will most likely include a daily walk into their routine which contributes to a healthier heart and lifestyle and a lower risk to develop a lifestyle disease such as diabetes, heart disease, or obesity. Beyond that, studies also show that pet owners who are heart attack survivors or who have a heart condition live longer than people with the same affliction and no pet.

Petting your cat or dog also has the wonderful benefit of lowering blood pressure by releasing oxytocin, the “feel-good social bonding hormone” and lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Pets also equally benefit from the attention. As you age and are at higher risk for loneliness and isolation, pets greatly help compensate for the lack of physical touch and human interaction. Pets are very intuitive; they know your moods and sense your sorrows. They very often reach out when you are down. 

Pets are also social magnets. They will seek attention. They are a bridge to starting a conversation and people are more likely to come up to you and connect. Studies show that pet owners are generally more social and extroverted.

Pet owners seem happier, more content, and more trusting. They have a sense of belonging and purpose. Of course, having a pet is a responsibility and requires sacrifices, having to set travel arrangements when leaving for vacation is one of them, but it also creates a sense of purpose in having to take care of someone you love. They make you feel needed.

Domestic animals love you unconditionally, you know what to expect whatever happens and it removes the drama that sometimes human relationships bring. They are a healthy self-esteem boost.  Psychologists at the Universities of Miami and St Louis studying pet owners also found among the other benefits that pet owners had a bigger sense of well-being overall. Pets love you for who you are, just the way you are with your strengths and flaws.

WebMD declares that babies could also benefit from being raised with one or more pets. Some studies show that being around a pet at an early age could reduce asthma and allergies by boosting the immune system also helping with limiting allergies to grass, dust, and ragweed. Those babies also show less ear infections and colds than babies without a pet in the house. This could reduce the risk of depression brought on by various physical illnesses. The CDC also discovered through a study that children with a pet dog were less likely to develop stress and anxiety.

Other great benefits to your health is that pets keep you in the present moment. They allow you to slow down and smell the roses in a world where you are asked to do more in less time and lose your sense of fully living and enjoying the ride. A 2016 study in Manchester England, showed that pets were very helpful in the recovery of a severe mental illness by distracting you from your symptoms such as hearing voices, negative self-talk or suicidal thoughts.

They are also great at making you smile and are always here for a good tumble. Chose his or her favorite toy and keep them active.

Since pets offer such great benefits to your health, what are some helpful tips to keep them healthy?

Summer is a time of increased activity, make sure your pet always has plenty of clean water and that you are home more often to let him or her out to pee and get the necessary exercise.

If you enjoy running with your pet, ensure you are not running in the middle of the day which could cause your pet to overheat and if not allowed to cool down properly, could cause his internal organs to start shutting down. Also be mindful of the asphalt on the road. You might not realize because of your shoes, but in the middle of summer, a dog can develop blisters by walking on a hot road.

With more activities and outdoor exercise, your pet might need more grooming. Make sure to brush him or her regularly which will get rid of hair outside instead of indoors but also will help your pet cool down more efficiently as more air flow will be able to travel through your pet’s coat.

Flees and ticks are quite common in the summer, even in your well-manicured backyard, but thankfully there are topicals or oral medications to avoid them. Your vet is a good person to advise you for those meds. Make sure what you give your dog is covering for ticks since they can cause various nasty diseases.

I would say that, normally, human food would be a no-no for your pet, but the summer and the availability of good fruits makes it a good time to share your favorite fruit as an occasional treat. Fruits contain natural sugars and because of that moderation is key. Pets also do not process certain foods the same way than humans do, so beware that only certain fruits are safe for dogs. A few of them are:

Apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries and raspberries. Beware, grapes and raisins are VERY TOXIC for your dog. Before offering a fruit to your dog that is not on this list, please consult a reputable site on the internet to check if the fruit is safe for your pet.

Please note that pits, stems, and any kind of seeds from any fruit are toxic and need to be removed before offering the piece of fruit to your favorite furry companion.

Mixing the piece of fruit with peanut butter is also a good solution on occasion and making sure to wash the fruit before offering it to eat.

 

Happy second half of the summer and enjoy the true companionship that your pet offers you!