But did you know that pets are considered preventive medicine?
Some insurance companies poll subscribers about pet ownership - and add health points to your account if you're a per owner!
Pets can be catalysts
for harm reduction
When Dr. Hodgson made that statement, I was intrigued. I hadn’t thought about it in quite those terms before.
She gave three examples:
- Pets can motivate you to exercise more – and more consistently
- Pets can provide therapeutic intervention to treat illness
- Pets can help you stop smoking
Exercise: More Often,
This first one’s fairly intuitive. After all, if a dog needs to be walked that’s a powerful motivation for you to walk with him!
|Jogging with dog and baby: bonus points! Photo: Don DeBold|
But if you’re ever challenged to prove it, here’s the 4-1-1:
A few years ago, a study called the PPET was conducted. Here are some of its results:
- Overweight people who exercised with a pet dog increased their physical activity by almost 4 hours per week
- Over 60% were still exercising one year later. They stuck with it!
Then there are the benefits pets can have for those who are ill. Your state of mind is a powerful part of the wellness equation when recovering from illness or injury. That’s why therapy dogs and cats are so welcome in hospitals and nursing homes.
|Recognize this therapy cat? We met him at BlogPaws!|
And a Mayo Clinic oncologist, Dr. Edward Creagan, calls pets “medication without side effects.” He so believes in the beneficial effects of a pet during treatment and recovery that he asks patients for their pets’ names when he takes their medical history.
What I didn’t know was the benefit pets can bring to Alzheimer’s patients: a visit from a pet has been shown to reduce anxiety, agitation and depression. A Purdue study indicated that even fish tanks had calming effects.
The data compiled showed that nutritional intake increased by over 20% when the aquariums were first introduced and body weight increased significantly for the patients in the 16-week study. Patients also required fewer nutritional supplements. Quite a performance by our finned and scaled friends!
Pets and Secondhand Smoke
Pets are far more adversely affected by secondhand smoke than you may realize. It’s not just the risk of lung cancer from inhaling.
|If Faraday were around smokers, he'd be ingesting|
up to 15 cigarettes' worth of carcinogens right now.
Those carcinogens get in the mouth when grooming, and cause oral cancer. Studies also indicate there is an increase in association with lymphoma & mammary cancer.
Dogs, too, are very adversely affected. Dogs with shorter noses have higher incidents of lung cancer due to secondhand smoke, because their shorter nasal passages don’t filter out the toxins as effectively as other breeds.
Conversely, the dog breeds with much longer noses such as the collies and greyhounds are more susceptible to nasal cancer.
There was a fascinating study done in 2008 that polled smokers and people who lived with smokers. The results indicated that when a smoker learns his behavior is endangering a beloved pet, he or she is almost 30% more likely to quit smoking!
The next time you engage someone in a discussion on the joys of pet ownership, don’t forget to let them know about the health benefits they’ll reap, too.
Pets are indeed catalysts for more healthy behavior!
Pet Owners' Attitudes and Behaviors Related to Smoking and Secondhand Smoke: A Pilot Study
WebMD: Health Benefits of Pets excerpt:
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America: The felid purr: a healing mechanism?
Excerpt: "Domestic cats, servals, ocelots, and pumas produce fundamental, dominant, or strong frequencies at exactly 25 Hz and 50 Hz, the two low frequencies that best promote bone growth/fracture healing [Chen etal., Zhong. Wai Ke Za Zhi. 32, 217–219 (1994)]. ... Purr frequencies correspond to vibrational/electrical frequencies used in treatment for bone growth/fractures, pain, edema, muscle growth/strain, joint flexibility, dyspnea, and wounds."
PPET Study Abstract, National Institutes of Health, excerpt: “Time spent in physical activity increased in both groups to 3.9 (PP) and 3.5 (PO) h/wk. Two-thirds of total physical activity in the PP group was spent with the dogs.”