10 Things Pets Do To Improve Your Health

Image Copyright Lindsay Ann Loft.

The photo above is of our furry family: Roxy, Leela, and Bailey. It is often said that pets improve the health of their owners, but in what ways can this be accomplished? I’ve compiled some research that shows exactly how these companions improve our lives.

  1. Pets increase your activity – Taking a dog for a walk not only give you motivation to get out the door but also helps keep you consistently doing so.
  2. Decrease your blood pressure – Having a four legged friend during stressful times helps to reduce your blood pressure and lighten your spirits. Read more in a study here.
  3. Pets help Veterans! An organization called Pets for Patriots helps connect military families with shelter dogs and cats. They can reduce stress and connect family members. Read more about this organization on their website.
  4. Improve Self Esteem – Children who have pets have an improved sense of self esteem and empathy than those who do not. This is based on a study by Robert Bierer at the University of Albuquerque.
  5. Improve your Social Life – Have you ever noticed that when you walk a dog you’re everyone’s best friend? It’s a way to connect to your neighbors and meet new people. In my opinion, dog people are always the nicest people. 🙂
  6. Help the Elderly – “Studies show that older people with dogs visit the doctor less often with minor health issues and have lower levels of blood pressure and cholesterol than non-pet owners” Source.
  7. Decrease Allergies in Children – Infants that grew up with a dog in the house had a reduced instance of allergies from 33% to 19%. Source.
  8. Fill Your Heart and Keep it Healthy – “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels — all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack down the road. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, research also indicates that patients with a dog or a cat tend to have better recovery rates. These benefits are thought to be connected with pets’ tendency to help reduce or at least control their owners’ overall stress levels” Source.
  9. Enhance Your Mood – “It only takes 15 to 30 minutes with a dog or cat or watching fish swim to feel less anxious and less stressed. Your body actually goes through physical changes in that length of time that make a difference in your mood. The level of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is lowered. And the production of serotonin, a chemical associated with well-being, is increased. Reducing stress saves your body wear and tear” Source.
  10. Pet Therapy – Therapists are using pets to help their patients deal with depression. Providing companionship these animals help to motivate and lift spirits. Read more here.

I instantly feel better when my dog greets me at the door after work. Feel free to share your pet experience in the comments below.

Now go give your dog, cat, or fish (?) a hug. 🙂

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10 Human Foods Dangerous to Dogs & Cats


Most pet lovers know that chocolate is dangerous for dogs to consume. I was surprised that avocados and chewing gum could be fatal to my dog. Here’s a list of 10 human foods pets need to avoid.

  1. Chocolate – Chocolate poisoning is caused by methylxanthine alkaloids. This is found in the cacao seeds which means that dark chocolate is the most concentrated. Dogs who have chocolate poisoning will vomit and be hyperactive and restless. For more details check out this article. If you think that your pet has ingested chocolate please contact your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.
  2. Caffeine – Coffee and caffeinated drinks are not good for dogs. These drinks also contain methylxanthine.
  3. Avocado – You might love guacamole but keep it away from your pup. Avocados contain persin which is toxic to dogs and cats.
  4. Grapes & raisins – The ASPCA warns that dogs should avoid grapes & raisins. It is not clear what part of the fruit causes liver failure in dogs. Read more about grapes and raisins here.
  5. Raw or undercooked meat and eggs – Eating raw or undercooked meat and eggs can cause dogs and cats to contract salmonella or e. coli. This is not only dangerous to pets but is also dangerous to their humans, as people can contract salmonella from their sick pet. In November 2011, the FDA began testing pet food for salmonella.
  6. Onions, garlic, chives – These foods can cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage. Cats are effected more than dogs but both should avoid these foods.
  7. Milk – Milk can cause upset stomachs in both dogs and cats. Their digestive systems cannot digest high quantities of lactase.
  8. Salt – Excessive amounts of salt is dangerous in dogs, if you want to share a treat with your four legged friend avoid salty chips and pretzels. Stick to puppy approved snacks.
  9. Xylitol – Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in gum, mints, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Ingesting Xylitol can be very dangerous for dogs. It takes only a short period of time for a dramatic decrease in blood glucose levels resulting in vomiting, depression, loss of coordination, seizures, or coma, high doses can result in fatal liver failure. Be sure to keep mints and gum away from pets. For more information about Xylitol click here.
  10. Alcohol – Alcohol is bad for dogs and cats. It can cause a variety of symptoms from vomiting to coma.

For more information please follow this link to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Do your pet a favor and program this number into your cell phone right now: 1-888-426-4435. Also find and save a 24 hour pet emergency center in your area, it’s always good to have this information before it is needed. For a list of outdoor and indoor poisonous plants click here. Also this list of poison control questions and answer can be helpful to read.

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