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
Coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic and health news.
04/15/2021 03:51 PM
What's different about Johnson & Johnson's vaccine that might explain its blood clot risk?

Why might some COVID-19 vaccines pose a small risk of blood clots while others don't? Scientists suspect it's related to their use of adenoviruses.


04/15/2021 03:36 PM
Riverside County aims for COVID-19 herd immunity by mid-June

With everyone 16 and older now eligible to get vaccinated, Riverside County health officials expect herd immunity to COVID-19 in eight to 10 weeks.


04/15/2021 01:37 PM
Final county moves out of California's purple tier as wider reopenings continue

Officials moved the lone remaining occupant of the category, Merced County, into the less-stringent red tier after reexamining the region's data.


04/15/2021 11:12 AM
All Californians 16 and over can now get COVID-19 vaccine. Here's how

California removes the last barrier to widespread adult access to COVID-19 vaccines, though getting an appointment may still take some patience.


04/15/2021 08:00 AM
Pandemic highlights need for more women's urgent care clinics in California

During the pandemic, these clinics have helped women with painful gynecological issues avoid long waits in ERs or longer waits to see their doctors.


04/15/2021 08:00 AM
COVID-19 vaccine inequities persist in L.A. County despite progress in underserved areas

Among communities with at least 5,000 residents, those that saw the largest relative increases in their vaccination rates over a weeks-long stretch ending Monday were lower-income areas with predominantly non-white populations.


Health : NPR
Health : NPR
Health
04/15/2021 04:10 PM
Behind The Relatively Slow Vaccine Rollout In Canada
NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with André Picard, health columnist with The Globe And Mail, about the reasons behind the relative slowness of COVID-19 vaccine rollouts in Canada.
04/15/2021 11:11 AM
India Confirms More Than 200,000 Coronavirus Cases In A Day
Thursday's tally was India's highest since the pandemic began – more than double the previous 2020 peak.
04/15/2021 11:01 AM
Scientists Create Early Embryos That Are Part Human, Part Monkey
An international team has put human cells into monkey embryos in hopes of finding new ways to produce organs for transplantation. But some ethicists still worry about how such research could go wrong.
04/15/2021 10:39 AM
Signs Of Economic Boom Emerge As Retail Sales Surge, Jobless Claims Hit Pandemic Low
Retail sales jumped nearly 10% in March, as shoppers, flush with $1,400 relief payments, are feeling more confident about venturing out. Weekly unemployment claims dropped to a pandemic low.
04/15/2021 10:14 AM
'It's Not A Never Thing' — White, Rural Southerners Hesitant To Get COVID Vaccine
A majority of white, rural conservatives in Tennessee are open to getting the vaccine at some point, but at least 45% won't consider it. Rates in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi are also lagging.
04/15/2021 05:14 AM
VA Faces Complications As It Opens Vaccinations To All Veterans
When it comes to getting shots into arms, the VA's health care system is ahead of many civilian providers. But the VA faces a challenge: vaccine outreach for all vets, their families and caregivers.
04/15/2021 05:14 AM
Comparing The COVID-19 Vaccination Process Of California To Florida's
We look at how two states are distributing COVID-19 vaccines. California is expanding eligibility to anyone 16 or older — weeks after Florida launched its own expansion.
04/15/2021 05:01 AM
The Most Popular J&J Vaccine Story On Facebook? A Conspiracy Theorist Posted It
A vast network of professional vaccine skeptics on social media has been waiting for a development like the Johnson & Johnson pause. Now experts say they will milk it for all it's worth and more.
NYT > Well
NYT > Well

04/15/2021 03:52 PM
Weekly Health Quiz: Covid Vaccines, Virus Variants and Safer Travel
Test your knowledge of this week’s health news.
04/15/2021 09:00 AM
How Do I Convince My Grieving Relatives to Visit?
My brother and his wife lost a son. All we want is to see them.
04/15/2021 08:00 AM
¿Bebes más alcohol por la pandemia? Tenemos algunos consejos
Muchos estadounidenses aumentaron su consumo de alcohol durante la pandemia, y las mujeres y los padres de niños pequeños se vieron afectados de manera desproporcionada.
04/15/2021 01:38 PM
She’s 94 Now, but at 17 Her Voice Was Magical. Have a Listen.
Madeline Forman dreamed of being a singer, but life intervened. Seven decades later, she found a record in her closet that she had forgotten about completely.
04/14/2021 05:24 PM
The Quarantine Playlist
Anthems for a year in lockdown.
04/14/2021 10:25 PM
What the Coronavirus Variants Mean for Testing
Most tests should be able to detect the variants of concern, but test developers and health officials must remain vigilant, scientists say.
04/14/2021 11:57 AM
Drug Overdose Deaths Have Surged During the Pandemic, C.D.C. Says
The latest numbers surpass even the yearly tolls during the height of the opioid epidemic and mark a reversal of progress against addiction in recent years.
04/14/2021 11:15 AM
Women and the Covid-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know
Can it affect mammograms or the timing of fertility treatments? What side effects should you look out for? Experts weigh in.
04/14/2021 05:00 AM
5 Health Care Jobs on the Rise
Occupations in the industry are increasingly in demand because of an aging population and longer life spans.
 
Copyright 2021 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.