Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Over the past few years there have been a number of articles written about the health benefits of owning a pet. It has been shown that owning a pet will lower your blood pressure, encourage you to exercise and improve your psychological health. Pets have positive impacts on our lives. Pets certified as companion animals are brought into senior care facilities and certain hospital wards for visits with residents and patients. I also know a number of senior care facilities that have permanent cats, dogs, birds and or fish living there. They bring much joy to the residents.

I read an article today in the Science daily on the topic of human-animal interaction. I was amazed to read about the number of research institutes that are looking at this subject matter. At the end of October there is an international conference in Kansas City that will highlight research that has been done on the ways animals benefit people of all ages. This conference will bring together international experts working in areas including human-animal interaction, health and veterinary medicine. I imagine that some of the support for this conference and others comes from pet food companies as the pet industry is huge business in North America. Just using US statistics, pets are found in 60 percent of American homes. I can guess that the statistics are similar for Canada. Some other noteworthy points that I found in this Science Daily article was that Eunice Shriver Kennedy, who recently passed away, has a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development named after her. This Institute has sponsored workshops on the benefits of human-animal interaction in childhood. The other interesting point from this article was some research done on seniors. A study was done comparing the activity levels of seniors who were matched with shelter dogs versus another group of seniors matched with a human buddy. The aim was to walk on an outdoor trail for an hour a day for five days a week. The results found an improvement of 28 percent in seniors who walked with dogs versus the four percent improvement in seniors who walked with a human buddy. The improvement was seen in walking capabilities. Why did the seniors improve more walking with a dog? It is because us humans can rationalize in many different ways reasons for not walking on a particular day - we are tired, it is hot, I am lazy and so on. So the lesson in this is if you want to improve your activity levels - get a dog who needs a daily walk! I can relate to this very well. Having a dog forces me to walk on those days that I would rather not go out and walk.

Dogs and cats have almost always been a part of my life. I couldn't imagine not having them as part of my life. There is a saying that I like and you may have read it already in one of my postings. Dogs may not be your whole life but they make your life whole.

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