How Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Overall Health – PART 2

Pets can improve your emotional health. They give unconditional love and are always happy to see you. They shower you with love and attention.

This is PART 2 in a series on How Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Overall Health

CLICK HERE for PART 1

Knowing that you have someone who loves you at home gives you a sense of security and stability. Even if the rest of your world is chaos at the moment, having a loving relationship—even if it’s with a pet—can keep you grounded enough to cope. People with loving relationships toward their pets (it doesn’t count if you find them to be a burden or nuisance) also are more likely to be more confident in their day-to-day lives and have higher self-esteem.

Here are some specific ways pets can improve your emotional health

  1. Being around animals improves your mood. Throw a ball for a dog. Pet a bunny. Watch a fish swim or a turtle mosey around. You’ll feel calmer and less frantic.
  2. Just interacting with a pet can decrease the stress-inducing hormone cortisol and increase the feel-good hormone serotonin. You already know (from what you read in PART 1 of this series) that owning a pet can lead lower blood pressure. But that’s especially true during times of high mental stress, when pet owners are more likely to keep a lid on their blood pressure. .
  3. Pets make you feel happy. You know that gooey feeling you get when you stare deeply into your pet’s eyes and it lovingly stares back? That triggers the same hormonal feedback loop that a mother and her newborn baby feel when they gaze at one another. This release of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, helps you bond to your pet and vice versa. It makes you feel happy, secure, and well. If you feel like your pet is your best friend—or even your child—now you know why.
  4. Growing up with a pet helps children develop empathy. Parents have long used pets to teach their children the responsibilities of physically taking care of someone else. Research shows that is just the start, because having a pet also improves kids’ emotional intelligence. The bonding hormones discussed above help children relate to a creature other than themselves. That helps kids learn to care for the feelings of their pet in addition to their physical needs. These lessons in empathy will help kids relate better to humans as they grow up. Children who have higher emotional intelligence tend to be more successful later in life.

PART 3 will discuss how Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Mental Health

 

Owning a Pet Can Help Improve Your Overall Health – PART 1

Did you know that owning a pet can help improve your overall health? Our dogs are part of our family. Some might say a little “too much” since they sleep in our bed and cuddle up on the couch with us!  See all the ways pet owners’ health can prosper—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

This series in divided into 3 parts – the physical, mental and emotional benefits of pet ownership.

PART 1 – Physical Benefits of Owning a Pet

  1. Exercising, caring for, and just being around pets can boost your overall physical health, lower your risk of developing certain heart-related issues, and ease your aches and pains.
  2. Pet owners have a better level of fitness. You won’t burn a whole lot of calories watching your pet fish swim around in its bowl. But if you have a dog, you’re likely getting more exercise than those who don’t. Turns out that knowing your pet needs exercise is a powerful motivator to get out and walk. About half of dog owners get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days per week. That’s the recommended amount. And the benefits don’t stop there. Dog walkers also walk more vigorously than when walking alone, and saw a greater improvement in fitness than those who walked with a human companion. People often talk each other out of getting exercise, but we don’t try to make those lame excuses to our pooches.
  3. Pets improve your heart health. Watching a cute kitten play or snuggling a dog can be heartwarming. It can also just be plain good for your heart. Pet owners are more likely to have lower resting heart rates and blood pressure than those who are pet-free. And having a dog can increase your likelihood of survival a year after a heart attack. Cats are particularly good for your circulation and cardiovascular health. Studies show that owning a cat at some point in your life can decrease your odds of dying from a heart attack. Cat owners also tend to have fewer strokes. While they fill your heart with love, pets also help keep your heart strong.
  4. Pet owners can see lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels.  This could be, in part, because pet owners tend to be more active. Pets also have been known to warn their diabetic owners ahead of dangerous drops in blood sugar—about one third of dogs with diabetic owners have shown this ability.
  5. Chronic pain sufferers find some relief when they own pets. Research is unclear as to why pets appear to make it easier to cope with painful conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Some suspect that caring for a pet helps take your mind off your discomfort and problems. Additionally, when you snuggle up against a warm pet, the heat can soothe pains associated with conditions like fibromyalgia.
  6. Animals help children build up stronger immunity. Research shows that children who grow up in a household with a dog, cat, or on a farm with livestock are less likely to have allergies. Although pets can be one of the common triggers for asthma, researchers say babies that grow up in a house with a cat are actually less likely to develop the condition when they’re older—unless the mother is allergic to cats.

Look for PART 2 in this series about how owning a pet can help your mental health.

 

Is Your Dog Overweight?

retriever-canine-pet-animal-56012Did you know that one of every four pets is overweight?

Do you know how to tell if your pet is overweight? If you rub your hand under your pet’s hair and along his or her sides and can’t feel the ribs, your pet likely has a weight problem.

Unfortunately, many pet owners—even those with portly or obese dogs and cats—think their pet’s weight is normal. This extra weight hurts your pet’s joints.

Here are some key facts about weight loss in pets

  • One of every four pets is overweight.
  • If an underlying health problem is causing your pet’s weight gain, make specific nutritional changes according to your pet’s condition.
  • Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Cairn Terriers, Westies, and Scottish Terriers are some of the dog breeds prone to obesity.

I have a Westie and here is what my vet told me. I was  feeding her more than  she needs for her target weight. I took a month to gradually reduce the amount. Sometimes it helps to use a smaller cup. Or, you might use the measuring cup you’ve always used and remove a spoonful and place it back in the bag. After a week, remove two spoonfuls. Proceed until your pet is losing weight.

Put the proper amount of food in the bowl, leave it for 20 minutes, and then pick it up. Feed again in the evening.