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!

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, science, advice and key articles.
08/07/2020 11:47 PM
California colleges can reopen with a ton of restrictions, limited dorms, online classes

California colleges can reopen this fall with limited in-person classes and greatly reduced dorm life, state public health officials said Friday as they issued long-awaited guidance for how campuses can operate amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.


08/07/2020 09:50 PM
Judge issues order shutting down Ventura County church's crowded, unmasked indoor services

A Ventura County Superior Court judge Friday granted a temporary restraining order against Godspeak Calvary Chapel and pastor Rob McCoy, forbidding the church's indoor services and demanding adherence to statewide and local health orders aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.


08/07/2020 09:08 PM
How safe is it for young adults to be at college during a pandemic?

Can students safely return to campus during the coronavirus pandemic? Parents are anxious.


08/07/2020 09:00 PM
A judge commandeers L.A.'s City Hall in his campaign to curb homelessness

Judge David O. Carter, who has ruled that local agencies must clear homeless people from encampments alongside freeways, holds a hearing at City Hall — a reflection of how a legal case has made its presence felt in L.A. politics.


08/07/2020 08:40 PM
Orange County's coronavirus death toll passes 700

While a far cry from the record 32 deaths reported Thursday, Friday's seven additional fatalities demonstrate that the coronavirus is continuing to take a toll even as officials weigh reopening some schools for in-person instruction.


08/07/2020 08:11 PM
Here's how colleges are trying to limit the spread of COVID-19

It's critically important that schools have a solid plan in place for testing, contact tracing, quarantine and treatment.


Health : NPR
Health : NPR
Health
08/07/2020 05:48 PM
Gov. Cuomo Clears The Way For In-Person Learning At Schools In New York State
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that infection rates were low enough that local districts could opt to bring kids back into classrooms if they wanted. Many teachers oppose the decision.
08/07/2020 05:18 PM
Nasal Spray Is A New Antidepressant Option For People At High Risk of Suicide
Doctors have a new option for suicidal patients. It's a fast-acting nasal spray containing a version of the anesthetic ketamine.
08/07/2020 04:45 PM
How The Coronavirus Has Affected Individual Members Of Congress
Congress saw its first two members enter self-quarantine on March 8. Later that month, seven members tested positive or were presumed so and dozens more were quarantined. The ranks have since grown.
08/07/2020 03:59 PM
Teachers Are Concerned About Returning Back To Classroom
Two-thirds of U.S. educators prefer to teach remotely this fall, according to an NPR/Ipsos poll of teachers. Many Texas teachers are on edge, and some say they may quit if their schools reopen.
08/07/2020 03:59 PM
What It's Like To Be Back In School?
Some schools in the South and the Midwest have reopened this week. NPR looks at what being back in school has been like in Georgia and Indiana.
08/07/2020 03:59 PM
Drug Companies Face Lawsuits From Opioid Crisis As They Respond To The Pandemic
As pharmaceutical companies face a tsunami of lawsuits and criminal probes stemming from the opioid epidemic, they are accused of using the coronavirus crisis to rehabilitate their image.
08/07/2020 03:59 PM
Governors To Work With Rockefeller Foundation To Improve Virus Testing In U.S.
NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, about the foundation's efforts to implement a national coronavirus testing and tracing plan.
08/07/2020 11:31 AM
Opinion: We Are Africans. Here's Our View Of Beyoncé's 'Black Is King'
Esther Ngumbi, a professor from Kenya, and Ifeanyi Nsofor, a doctor in Nigeria, react to the megastar's movie-length music video — and to criticism from other Africans.
Well
Well

08/07/2020 08:03 PM
Know Your Pandemic Schooling Options
As districts decide how to handle the fall semester, parents are podding up, scheduling tutors and enlisting relatives.
08/07/2020 08:00 PM
New York Is Positioned to Reopen Schools Safely, Health Experts Say
Transmission, even in New York City, is well below thresholds experts say are safe, but issues like adequate ventilation to combat aerosol spread of the virus remain.
08/07/2020 07:59 PM
How to Volunteer or Donate to Help Others This School Year
Many students and their families are struggling. Here are some ideas to help your neighbors, your schools and your community.
08/07/2020 05:45 PM
Treating Our Shared World as an Extension of Our Homes
Picking up trash makes the outdoors a more beautiful space to inhabit — for everyone.
08/07/2020 04:48 PM
Why the Coronavirus is More Likely to ‘Superspread’ Than the Flu
Most people won’t spread the virus widely. The few who do are probably in the wrong place at the wrong time in their infection, new models suggest.
08/07/2020 04:23 PM
Parents of College Students Worry, Should They Stay or Go?
“This is a situation where you have to pray for the best and be ready for the worst,” one father said.
08/07/2020 05:00 AM
A Birthday at the Cemetery
All I could think about was how quickly the first 40 years of my life had flown by and how nothing was guaranteed ahead.
08/07/2020 12:00 AM
When Marriage Is Just Another Overhyped Nightclub
Being single in your 30s can feel like waiting to enter a popular club, only to get in and think: What’s the big deal?
08/06/2020 05:00 PM
The Coronavirus Is New, but Your Immune System Might Still Recognize It
Some people carry immune cells called T cells that can capitalize on the virus’s resemblance to other members of its family tree.
 
Copyright 2020 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.