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.
04/17/2019 11:00 AM
Can’t Kondo? Declutter your way for your own sanity

For anyone who’s struggled to keep up with Marie Kondo’s “life-changing magic” of tidying up, author Gretchen Rubin has some words of comfort:

Relax. There’s no single best way to get your house in order.

Different methods work well for different people, she argues in her new book, “Outer Order,...


04/06/2019 11:00 AM
We’ve got fitness inspiration from Halle Berry’s trainer

In most of Peter Lee Thomas’ conversations, the question invariably sneaks in: What’s it like training Oscar-winner Halle Berry?

“People want to know how she gets into that kind of shape,” said Thomas of the 52-year-old actress who seems to age in reverse. “It’s perplexing to them.”

The fitness...


04/02/2019 11:30 AM
Don’t just age. Age well. It’s one of 4 wellness events happening now

Aging with pride, biohacking, a ride to raise money for breast cancer patients and a personalized massage at the touch of an app: Here's what's happening in L.A.’s health and wellness scene.

Robotic puppies, clothing to make getting dressed easier, and encouragement for mom to use those smartphone...


03/28/2019 11:30 AM
Actor Mark Wahlberg's two-workout, seven-meal day starts at 3:15 a.m.

Actor Mark Wahlberg schedules everything to the minute, from his wake-up at 3 a.m. — yes, 3 a.m. — to his bedtime at 7:30 p.m.

After all, the chiseled 47-year-old father of four, a high school dropout who leveraged his 1991 hit rap song “Good Vibrations” and a subsequent Calvin Klein underwear...


03/22/2019 10:00 AM
A veteran runner shares his 26.2 secrets for conquering the L.A. Marathon

You dreamed big, you signed up and you trained hard. To help you crush it in Sunday’s L.A. Marathon, I’ve offered up 26.2 things to remember before, during and after the race. Don’t laugh if some of these seem obvious. I’ve done enough marathons to know that sometimes it’s the obvious things that...


04/16/2019 11:00 AM
Keto? Whole30? Paleo? Lunchtime meals deliver

Brown-bagging healthful lunches is a lot easier when they’re prepped, packed and ready to pull out of the refrigerator. And companies are increasingly delivering that convenience to those on specific meal plans — Whole30, keto, paleo, vegan — for a price, of course.

“There’s a rise in what we call...


Health : NPR
Health : NPR
Health
04/18/2019 04:40 PM
'This Is Morally Wrong': Biden Supports Striking Massachusetts Grocery Workers
Thirty-one thousand Stop & Shop workers are striking in New England over proposed changes to wages and benefits. Eight days in, the strike has shuttered some stores and slowed business at others,
04/18/2019 03:32 PM
Washington State Senate Passes Bill Removing Exemption For Measles Vaccine
The bill removes the personal belief exemption from required childhood vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella. Seventeen states allow exemptions based on philosophical objections.
04/18/2019 05:00 AM
After Columbine, An Unlikely Friendship Bound By The Trauma Of Mass Shootings
Over the past 20 years, mass shootings have resulted in communities of survivors. Heather Martin, who was a senior at Columbine High School in 1999, runs a nonprofit that connects them.
04/18/2019 05:00 AM
High-Deductible Health Policies Linked To Delayed Diagnosis And Treatment
Her employer offered only a high-deductible health plan; that meant she'd have to pay up to $6,000 out of pocket each year. Advocates for patients say this sort of underinsurance is snatching lives.
04/17/2019 05:12 PM
Gene Therapy Advances To Better Treat 'Bubble Boy' Disease
The latest advance is not only encouraging news for patients with severe combined immunodeficiency. It's a test case for all those scientists working to develop better gene therapy techniques.
04/17/2019 01:01 PM
Scientists Restore Some Function In The Brains Of Dead Pigs
The cells regained a startling amount of function, but the brains didn't have activity linked with consciousness. Ethicists see challenges to assumptions about the irreversible nature of brain death.
04/17/2019 03:03 AM
Amid New York Measles Outbreaks, 1 County Orders Exclusions From Public Spaces
It's the latest measure officials in the region have taken to combat the disease. Between Rockland County and New York City, more than 500 cases have been confirmed since the start of the year.
04/16/2019 04:49 PM
A Rare Sight At Brigham Young University As Students Protest The Honor Code Office
Students allege that the university is mistreating victims of sexual assault and harassment, especially women and LGBTQ students.
Well
Well

04/18/2019 02:55 PM
Airline Warns of Measles After Flight Attendant Falls Into Coma
The woman was hospitalized after contracting the disease, and passengers on a flight from J.F.K. to Tel Aviv are told to watch for symptoms.
04/18/2019 11:51 AM
This Genetic Mutation Makes People Feel Full — All the Time
Two new studies confirm that weight control is often the result of genetics, not willpower.
04/18/2019 10:28 AM
My Sister-in-Law Is Messing Up Our Financial Plans
When separate bank accounts support one spouse’s burden, are they really separate?
04/18/2019 05:00 AM
Prostate Drugs May Raise Diabetes Risk
Proscar and Avodart, prescribed for an enlarged prostate, were tied to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
04/18/2019 05:00 AM
‘Will You Stay With Me Until I Die?’
My patient had a simple, devastating request. To honor it meant grappling with how a therapist responds to her clients.
04/17/2019 05:30 PM
The Right Way to Use a Public Bathroom (to Avoid Getting Sick)
The odds of becoming ill from using a public bathroom are slim. But there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk even more. Here’s what to keep in mind.
04/17/2019 12:48 PM
Stress Tied to Heart Disease, Especially in People Under 50
Someone with a stress disorder was 37 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those in the general population.
04/16/2019 03:00 PM
Tiny Love Stories: ‘Sex Cures Everything’
Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.
04/16/2019 10:27 AM
Don’t Count on 23andMe to Detect Most Breast Cancer Risks, Study Warns
The DNA testing company, which has 10 million customers, misses nearly 90 percent of people with risky BRCA mutations. It says the criticism is overblown.
 
Copyright 2019 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.