The health benefits of having a pet (or two)

health benefits of having petsDo you have a pet in your life? Emerging research shows that having a furry friend may give your health a boost. In 2006, there were over 160 million pet cats and dogs in U.S. households. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pets can decrease your:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Triglyceride levels
  • Feelings of loneliness

Pets can also increase your opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization.

Heart helpers
A National Institutes of Health study showed that heart attack patients who had dogs were more likely to be alive a year after their attack than people without dogs. Also, male pet owners have been shown to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners.

In a study of married couples, those with pets had lower heart rates and blood pressure than those without. And in the presence of their pet, they responded better to stress and recovered more quickly than when they were with their spouse or a friend.

A calming presence
Animals have been shown to have a soothing effect on many people. Alzheimer's patients who have a pet in the home have been shown to exhibit fewer outbursts. Autistic children who work with therapy dogs have shown exciting improvements. And for years, dogs have been used in hospital settings and nursing homes to bring joy to patients and residents.

Exercise and companionship
Those who regularly walk their dogs are less likely to be obese than those who don't own or walk a dog, according to one study. Plus, walking a dog gives you more opportunity to meet people -- no one can resist saying hello to a happy dog!

SHOP NOW for Low Prices on Amazon's Top 100* Best Selling Pet Foods & Supplies
+ Free Shipping & Returns on Eligible Items.
(*Amazon's Top 100 list updated hourly.)

Things to consider before getting a pet

Since pets can be a long-term commitment (hopefully as long as 15 years or even more), be fair to the pet and yourself by considering these issues ahead of time:

  • Time: While kittens can be pretty independent, puppies may take a year in order to gain bladder control. So, potty-training takes time. And then there are walks (for dogs) and playtime (with cats) if you hope to keep them in good shape. You're not doing a pet a favor by adopting and then ignoring or returning it.
  • Money: Whether your pet comes from a breeder or shelter, there will be an up-front cost of $80 to several hundred dollars. Spaying or neutering, licensing and vaccinations will cost hundreds of dollars more. And don't forget the pet food, pet bed, kitty litter, and perhaps toys or treats. If the pet has "accidents" professional carpet cleaning may be needed. If you travel, consider the possible cost of boarding or having someone check in regularly. If your dog is an active breed, outdoor fencing may be needed to keep your dog safe. And leave yourself with some breathing room financially just in case an unsupervised, teething dog ruins a pair of slippers, the TV remote or even furniture. If your pet develops behavioral problems, a visit with an animal trainer or behaviorist may be in order.
  • Interest: Whether it's treating or just checking-over your pet for fleas or ticks, perhaps making an emergency run to the vet in the middle of the night, or working around personality conflicts between animals (or between animals and friends or family members), you have to remain consistently committed to caring for your pet.
  • Your age: Animals make wonderful friends for senior citizens but too often, seniors fall in love with a young pet that requires time, money or space that can't be provided for. And, unfortunately, pets outliving their owners is a real possibility so arrangements should be considered when older people adopt pets.
  • Patience: Pets are very forgiving but abuse can create a pet with permanent anxiety and trust issues. Whether it's a cat that gets on the roof or a dog that runs off or using the rug as a bathroom, pets (especially young ones) can be a wonderful exercise in developing patience.
  • Space: First of all, make certain that pets are permitted wherever you are currently living (or may be living in the future, if you are someone who moves often). Next, in order to stay healthy and burn off energy, pets need exercise so if your schedule does not allow for regular dog walks, a fenced in space may be needed. If you live in an apartment or condo, have cats chasing each other across the floor all night or a dog barking at every sound or out of boredom is obviously going to create issues with the residents below. You can sometimes guess at what a dog's energy level will be according to their breed (for instance, terriers are often high energy and noisy). If you decide that you want a certain breed, many locations have specific breed-rescue programs. Contact them to learn more about that breed and to see if they have an animal looking for a home. Perhaps, for your lifestyle and living arrangement, a hamster or gerbil may be a better "fit" than a dog or cat.
  • If, despite your best efforts and planning, having a pet does not work out, please do not resort to mistreating, punishing or abandoning your pet. Help is able if you should need to "re-home" your pet.

"I would love to get a pet but I am allergic to them!"

If you are one of the 15-30% of the population who has allergic reaction to pets, all is not lost. Here are a few points to consider:

Having an allergic reactions to cats is about twice as common as to dogs. Some people consider certain
dog breeds to be "hypoallergenic" because they are non-shedding.
The most commonly mentioned are: how pets help your health

  • Poodles
  • Schnauzers
  • Bichons Frises
  • Maltese
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers

According to a team of researchers from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, however, there is no such thing as a non-allergenic dog or cat. It is not the fur specifically, which is an allergen. It is proteins secreted by glands in the animals skin and dried saliva that attaches to the fur and then becomes airborne that causes most human allergic reactions. (Pet urine may also contain allergens.) Bathing a dog or cat weekly may reduce allergens by as much as 84%.

Allergic reactions can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening. To see how your body reacts, spend time with an animal before bringing him or her into your home since people with dog allergies can be allergic to only some breeds but not all. While children may outgrow pet allergies, adults rarely do -- although receiving allergy shots can help minimize symptoms as long as the treatment is maintained. And, even after a pet has been removed from a home, the allergens can linger for months.

Other tips for living with pets but minimizing allergies include:

  • keep pets off the human bed and pillows. You may want to prohibit them from even entering the bedroom.
  • keep pets off the furniture.
  • wash pet bedding once a week (this also helps avoid possible flea problems from developing).
  • litter boxes should be placed in an area where allergens are not likely to be spread by home ventilation system.
  • vacuum carpets and rugs (using a microfilter vacuum bag) and clean drapes and blinds at least once a week
  • run a whole-house HEPA air purifier. If this isn't practical, at least use one in the bedroom.
  • change your air conditioning/heating filter monthly or as needed.
  • have someone who is not affected by pet allergies frequently brush your pet -- but they should do it outside of your home. (Brushing and bathing remove much of the pet dander that would otherwise be shed inside the house.) If you must be the one who bathes your pet, wear a protective mask and gloves.
  • wash your hands after touching your pet.

Pets are sometimes incorrectly blamed for triggering allergic reactions. Allergies are cumulative so that, if someone is allergic to grasses, smoke, pollen or other allergens, they may be contributing to a problem that would be much more manageable if pets were the only offender.


From the Research Desk...

Study confirms that Omega-3 enhances brainpower

Los Angeles, CA - According to a new study, low blood levels of Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with smaller brain volume and poorer performance on tests of mental sharpness, even in people with no apparent dementia.

food sources of omega 3 oil

This UCLA study published in the February 2012 issue of the journal Neurology examined 1,575 dementia-free people whose average age was 67. Researchers analyzed the fatty acids of the subjects' red blood cells. Test subjects then underwent an M.R.I. scan to measure brain volume and look for vascular damage.

The study indicated that people in the lowest one-quarter category for Omega-3 levels had significantly lower total brain volume than those in the highest one quarter. The same test subjects also performed worse on tests of visual memory, mental function and abstract memory than those in the highest one-quarter.

BROWSE Amazon's Top 100* Best Selling Omega 3 Supplements
+ Free Shipping & Returns on Eligible Items.
(*Amazon's Top 100 list updated hourly.)

Being an "Essential Fatty Acid", Omega-3 can not be produced by the body but must come from dietary sources or supplements. Foods with Omega-3 include every type of fish (especially fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines, herring, canned tuna and canned mackerel), avocado, walnuts, flax seed and canola oil.

Exercise helps protect against dementia

Indianapolis, IN - An estimated 30 million people worldwide currently live with dementia, with this number expected to reach 115 million by the year 2050. And, while the cause of most dementia is unknown, a study that appeared in the February 2012 issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that physical activity may reduce the risk of dementia-related death.

Researchers at the American College of Sports Medicine analyzed the health of more than 45,000 men and 15,000 women, ages 20 to 88, and grouped them into low, middle or high fitness categories.

After an average follow-up of 17 years, researchers discovered that people in the high-and medium- fitness groups had less than half the risk of dying as those in the low-fitness group. "These findings should encourage individuals to be physically active," says study author Riu Lui. "This will keep most people out of the low-fit category and may reduce their risk of dying with dementia."

The more you imagine eating sweets, researchers say, the less you may eat of it

Pittsburgh, PA - Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that repeatedly thinking about eating a food resulted in people eating less of that food.

In a series of tests, study participants were asked to do a repetitive task while imagining eating a specific amount of candy, and were then invited to eat as much candy as desired. how thoughts effect eating habitsThose who imagined eating more candy ate less of it.

"These findings suggest that trying to suppress one's thoughts of desired foods to curb food cravings is a fundamentally flawed strategy," said Carey Morewedge, lead author of the study. He added, "We think these findings will help develop future interventions to reduce cravings for things such as unhealthy foods, drugs and cigarettes."

Low Prices on Best Selling
PET FOODS
& SUPPLIES

SHOP NOW AT AMAZON

spacer
Join in the conversations:
A Sampling of Today's Health News Headlines
L.A. Times - Health
L.A. Times - Health
Health news with a focus on fitness news, wellness coverage and living a healthy Southern California life.
06/17/2017 09:00 AM
Protect yourself from summer's harsh rays with these sun-protection clothing picks

Hey, sporty!

You already know you need to slather on the sunscreen when you’re outdoors this summer. But here’s another tool in your arsenal: UV-blocking sun-protective clothing.

Look for clothing that boasts a high Ultraviolet Protection Factor and one that’s been pre-treated with UV-blocking...


06/17/2017 10:00 AM
We've done the work for you: Here are 12 of the best sunscreens you can buy this summer

The sizzling summer sun doesn’t have to keep you from enjoying California’s great outdoors, but be smart about it.

Even though there’s growing awareness about the damage sun rays can cause, the rates of melanoma have been rising for the last 30 years, said David Andrews, a senior scientist for...


06/10/2017 10:00 AM
This urban stroll along the L.A. River includes a prime picnicking spot

Much has been made of the greening of the Los Angeles River, especially in the areas between Griffith Park and downtown L.A. But the river has steadily been getting improvements upstream, too.

This is a very pleasant urban stroll along a section of the flood control channel as it passes across...


06/10/2017 01:05 PM
Six wellness vacations to take this summer: Get home fitter than before you left

Catharina Hedberg was ahead of her time. In 1974, fresh off the boat from Sweden, the 29-year-old fell in love with the Santa Monica Mountains and created the Ashram, which at the time was a new idea for Southern California: the wellness retreat. She started out charging $500 for a weeklong, mountaintop...


06/10/2017 02:05 PM
Try yoga with a view, or join a mass meditation at downtown L.A.'s newest park

A new Pilates studio in Brentwood, early morning yoga at a Santa Monica bar, a day-long retreat in downtown Los Angeles and thousands of people meditating in a local park: Put these on your schedule this week.

This weekend — June 10 and 11 -- is the official opening of the new Club Pilates in Brentwood,...


05/24/2017 03:05 PM
Chocolate may be good medicine for reducing the risk of an irregular heartbeat, study says

Medical researchers have identified a compound that may reduce your risk of a dangerous type of heart rhythm that can lead to strokes, dementia, heart failure and early death.

In a study of more than 55,000 Danish men and women who were tracked for up to 16 years, people who used this compound...


FOX News
FOX News
FOXNews.com - Breaking news and video. Latest Current News: U.S., World, Entertainment, Health, Business, Technology, Politics, Sports.
06/21/2017 03:51 PM
Tick-borne diseases on the rise
Ticks and tick-borne illnesses are found all over the U.S., and you can use these maps provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see which ticks are found in your area.
06/21/2017 02:32 PM
Hummus recalled over possible listeria contamination
A Tennessee company has issued a voluntary recall for select hummus products sold nationwide and in Canada over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
06/21/2017 01:31 PM
9-year-old's 911 call saves pregnant mom's life
A 9-year-old boy is being credited with saving his pregnant mom’s life after he calmly called 911 when he noticed she was making strange noises and shaking.
06/21/2017 12:52 PM
Air Force says 135 patients possibly exposed to HIV, hepatitis
As many as 135 patients who underwent a colonoscopy or endoscopy at an Air Force base in Qatar may have potentially been exposed to HIV or hepatitis after it was revealed that the scopes used in the procedures were not properly cleaned.
06/21/2017 12:13 PM
Dramatic spike in opioid-related ER visits, hospitalizations, report reveals
A startling report on the nation’s harrowing opioid epidemic revealed emergency room visits and hospitalizations across the country totaled 1.27 million in a single year.
06/21/2017 11:35 AM
Barry Cadden: What to know about the ex-pharmacy exec tied to deadly meningitis outbreak
Barry Cadden, the co-founder of a now-defunct pharmaceutical company linked to a 2012 deadly meningitis outbreak, will be sentenced next week for his role in the spread of the disease.
06/21/2017 11:02 AM
Veteran takes ailing service dog on cross-country road trip for life-saving surgery
An Army veteran from California and his service dog “Bones” recently embarked on a cross-country road trip to Philadelphia for what is hoped to be a life-saving surgery for the pooch.
Well
Well

06/21/2017 09:17 PM
Take Feta. Add Frites. Stir in European Food Rules. Fight.
European Union regulations protecting consumers and preserving culinary cultures often create tension, sometimes even with the United States.
06/21/2017 05:38 PM
How to Raise a Reader
The benefits of reading at every stage of a child’s development are well documented. Happily, raising a reader is fun, rewarding and relatively easy.
06/21/2017 05:31 PM
Modern Love Podcast: Danielle Brooks Reads ‘About That Rustle in the Bushes’
The “Orange Is the New Black” actress reads Amelia Blanquera’s story about the file her father kept on her dating life.
06/21/2017 12:08 PM
Creating a Stylish World for Children With Autism
Wolf & Friends is a lush, inspirational platform of fashion and design for young children who have developmental issues.
06/21/2017 08:30 AM
No, Your Teen Doesn’t Hate You. It’s Just Summer.
When teenagers retreat to their rooms, it’s probably nothing personal.
06/21/2017 07:00 AM
A Transgender Groom Sees Beyond What He Ever Imagined
I figured people like me were not supposed to be in love or marry. I started to hate love stories and weddings.
06/21/2017 06:00 AM
How to Be Mindful on Vacation
Whatever is happening during your next vacation, take time to savor the experience.
06/20/2017 05:15 PM
How to Travel Safely (and Keep Calm)
Terrorist attacks in Britain and elsewhere may have unsettled travelers. Here are some tips to keep calm and carry on.
 
feedback
news@OrangeCountyHealth.com
Copyright 2017 OrangeCountyHealth.com. All rights reserved. rss Subscribe to our RSS
Information provided here should not be relied on to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition, disease or illness. Please consult with your physician or health care professional for guidance on any health concern. OrangeCountyHealth.com is a commercial website and is not affiliated with any government agency, university, or private medical center. COMPENSATION DISCLOSURE: This site may be compensated for products promoted here. Read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.