Health

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Can Your Dog or Cat Improve Your Health?

Posted by at 5:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)


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We know that adopting a healthy vegan diet can help you fight high cholesterol and obesity, but can simply living with a dog or cat have the same effect? According to several recent studies, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

To start with the obvious, a recent University of Michigan study found that guardians who are conscientious about regularly walking their dogs tend to have lower rates of obesity—ostensibly because they are getting a lot of exercise. But the surprising finding by the researchers who conducted the study was that guardians who walked their dogs often also tended to be more physically active in general, even after accounting for walking a dog. A separate study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)  has also found that walking a dog improves mobility around the house for men and women as old as 82. Another NIH study of 421 adults found that having a dog improved heart-attack victims’ one-year survival rate. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that having a companion animal can decrease cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.

Many animal guardians have experienced the unique soothing effect that their animals have on them, and some of the new research shows just how strong the health benefits of that soothing can be. One study of 240 married couples showed that animal guardians had lower pulse rates and blood pressure compared to couples without companion animals. And animal companions often reduce stress better than human companions do. Even recovery times from illnesses were shorter for people when they were with their animals than when they were with their spouse or a friend.

So if you’ve been thinking about adopting a dog, cat, or other animal in need of a loving home, there’s now one more reason to visit a local animal shelter and welcome a new member into your family—for your health!

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    Mitzi says...

    April 1st, 2011, 12:59 pm

    I must agree having a cat definitely reduces my stress. I drive from Fenton to Ann Arbor on US 23 everyday. I attend school part-time. By the time I get home in the evening I’m so stressed and aggravated, I’m ready to start throwing things. But then I see my cat Chula waiting at the door for me, looking at me with those “my masters home, everything is right with the world now” eyes and I can’t help but smile. After I pet Chula and he rubs up against me and get hair all on my pants, I feel relaxed and happy at the same time and totally forget about driving on US 23 until the morning comes.

    Marsha says...

    April 1st, 2011, 7:45 pm

    If not for my “cat kids”, I would come home to an empty, lonely house.
    They love me unconditionally; when I am around my fur children, I’M THE ONE WHO STARTS PURRING !!

    Deena says...

    April 2nd, 2011, 4:38 am

    Whilst out in India in November 2010, my house was broken into. My son phoned me with the bad news, requesting my immediate return. After cancelling my business trip by 8 days, I returned home (South Africa).
    The burglars entered through a non-opening glass window, knowing that the PIRs were isolated, as I keep my Border-Collie (Divenbaker) indoors. When one of the burglar jumped into the house, Divanbaker bit him. He hit her with a crow-bar across her head, causing her to be knocked unconscience for a brief spell, then dragged her into the kitchen and closed the door. She is still so traumatised that she’s actually biting her hair out. The Vet says that she’s still too traumatised and NO medication will assist her. Divanbaker’s 15 years old, getting deaf, but is still as loving as ever. Even the Vet says that she’s outlived her life expectancy by about 3/4 years, and, attributes this to love from both sides, mine and Divanbaker’s.

    Sylvia says...

    April 2nd, 2011, 6:13 pm

    I am the proud pet guardian to my cat Snowhite. She was a stray some 5-6 years ago when I decided to claim her as my own. She’s happy as a lark and shows me love and appreciation every day. I feel the same way. We are happy to have each other.

    Connie says...

    April 3rd, 2011, 3:23 am

    When my children were grown and I was looking for a place for my self I knew I would take my cats. So many places then would not take pets-but I never gave up. I talked the landlord into letting me have my 3 cats. I married since then-lost our MaMa cat (buried her in Tahoe) and still have Bear & Cleo-about 14 now & also took in a homeless cat-wonderful Boots. Now we have Lucy our great Pug who we rescued from the SPCA. What a wonderful family. I am disabled and home a lot. I would be lost without them.

    Ann says...

    April 4th, 2011, 6:47 pm

    No question this is true – I have a high stress job, and now cannot imagine coming home and not being greeted by my three cats. They’ve done wonders for my health and happiness.

    Sixpack says...

    April 7th, 2011, 9:44 pm

    I salvaged my TC (Top Cat) from a trash heap before he was weaned. I bathed and weaned him and he has been constantly by my side for almost 6 years. I recently became homeless, and until yesterday, I could find NO place where I could take TC with me. I would’ve slept under a tarp before abandoning my little friend—that’s what friends are for.

    I owe the fact that I’ve found a place where I CAN have TC, to PETA, and we’ll both be forever grateful…Thanks PETA

    Marina says...

    April 9th, 2011, 9:56 am

    Your animals can help you eat healthy, too! My husband and I have been vegan for a long time, but weren’t eating a large enough variety of veggies until we adopted two rabbits. They are picky eaters, so we’re always getting new veggies for them to try, especially greens, and of course, we end up eating them ourselves too. Now, I bake up some “kale crisps” a couple of times a week, put a collard leaf into smoothies, experiment with putting Swiss chard in lasagna, etc..

    Diana says...

    April 15th, 2011, 3:06 am

    Since my girls are grown and gone, I have cat kids to love-10 of them! and a little dog too! We are a hairy place, that’s for sure! I love my animals with all my heart, as they love me. They bring immeasurable joy to my home.

    Brenda Robinson says...

    April 15th, 2011, 7:10 am

    How can we get these articles/stories to the countries that have no regard for cats/dogs, i.e. Romania, Turkey ?

    Isabel Dias says...

    October 19th, 2011, 2:17 am

    Hello, I´m Isabel and i’m portuguese. I´m the happy “mummy” of five dogs and last weekend i saved one from the street. I’m really sad about my country, because some people don´t respect animals, and don´t exist some animal police like in the U.K. to judge these people. When you abandon a animal on the street nothing happens you, there is no law to punish you. I have shame from my country in respect of animal rights. I wish there is a PETA to help us change the law in Portugal.

    Arlene says...

    February 14th, 2012, 8:55 pm

    I have 4 and 4, all stray cats from the streets, and I loooove them. They are so much fun and noble. They fill my life with joy (and housework). Thanks to them I’m a much better person. A great deal of people in my country, Panama, are cruel to animals particularly to cats sadly.

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