Giving Thanks for our Pets

posted on November 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

There are many reasons we are thankful for our four-legged, furry friends.  Below are just a few!

  1. Comfort and love.  A pet’s love is unconditional.  It doesn’t matter what happened to you during the day, your dog is ready to greet you with a kiss and your cat will cuddle with you regardless.  The physical contact of being with your pet can provide warmth, soothe aches, and may even lower your blood pressure and heart rate which can be beneficial to your health.
  2. Support and mental health benefits.  Pets can help improve our mood, provide us with a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and can help decrease anxiety and overcome loneliness and depression.  Residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities have a positive change when pets are regularly brought in-they become more active and outgoing.  People with pets tend to be more socially interactive as well.  Pets make a great conversation starter and basis for friendship!
  3. Pets can help us get into shape.  Dogs need regular walks, which can motivate us to get more active.  The CDC states that owning a pet has been linked with lower risk for obesity, and also states that decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are additional benefits of owning pets.  Pets can also lead to better control of diabetes and an easier time quitting smoking.  Cat ownership is associated with lower risk of death from heart disease
  4. Pets make us laugh.  Their funny antics and play behavior is often a source of great amusement to us.
  5. Pets provide security.  Dogs can bark at intruders, and there are documented cases of pets waking owners when there are fires in the house.  Just having someone nearby can make you feel more secure.
  6. Pets teach us.  Pets can teach us many of the lessons in life.  They teach kids responsibility.  They teach us the circle of life and loss.  They teach us to love unconditionally and forgive easily.  They can teach us patience, joy, and tenacity.  They can help us grow and can teach us to care for something else above ourselves.

Overall, pets have many attributes which we are all thankful for.  In this month of giving thanks, take time to appreciate your pet too!

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Forget the apple a day, have a pet to keep the doctor away!

posted on February 04, 2014 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

A recent study done in Australia found that kids that have a pet (specifically a guinea pig) in the classroom have better social skills and fewer problem behaviors.  This study was particularly looking at classrooms that had Autistic children present.  However, it has been found that animals can help a variety of human conditions and can be beneficial to your health overall.

According to WebMD, there are many benefits to having pets.  Pets can reduce allergies, asthma, and eczema.  They can reduce anxiety in Alzheimer’s patients.  They can increase exercise and companionship.  They can decrease depression.  They can decrease blood pressure and heart disease risks.  They can help with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, and ADHD.

Dogs can also be trained to help people with diseases in a more specialized way-low blood sugar sensing dogs for diabetics, seizure sensing dogs for epileptics, seeing eye dogs for the blind, and cancer detecting canines.  Can do canines, a local facility, helps place dogs with people with a wide range of disabilities.

While not everyone needs a specially trained pet, there are many studies proving that pets can help improve your health and well being.  So give your furry friend a hug and enjoy the release of endorphins you’ll receive!

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