2017-04-19 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Dogs are man’s best friend. Owning a dog may make us healthier too. This week’s “Pets” is a list of “flash facts” about dogs providing health benefits. And, so not to leave out our cat buddies, feline “flash facts” will be interspersed too. Here goes:

*From the American Heart Association- Dog ownership may help reduce cardiovascular risk. People with dogs may engage in more physical activity because they walk them. In a study of more than 5,200 adults, dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.

*From the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute in Minneapolis- A study suggested those who do not own cats are 30-40% more likely to die of heart attacks than their cat-owning counterparts.

Some believe a cat's purr can help heal a broken bone. Some believe a cat's purr can help heal a broken bone. *Cat owners are known to have lower blood pressure than non-cat owners due to the calming presence cats provide. One study was conducted with a room full of cat owners. In the study, the owners would speak aloud, which naturally elevated blood pressure levels, but when the owners were observed speaking with their cats, their blood pressure remained constant.

*From the National Institute of Health (NIH) - Pets help recovery from heart attacks. A NIH study of 421 adults found that dog owners had a better one-year survival after a heart attack, compared to those who did not own dogs.

*Another NIH study- Pet owners have better mobility in their golden years. This study of 2,500 adults aged 71-82 showed that seniors who regularly walked their dogs had more mobility inside the house than non-pet owners.

*From the Seattle Times- Dog owners have less obesity. A study of 2,000 adults found that pet owners who walked their dogs had less rates of obesity and were more physically active than those without pets.

*From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)- Pets can help your cholesterol. The CDC states that owning a pet can decrease cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. A 2006 study in Canada showed that owning a cat was actually more effective at lowering cholesterol than blood pressure medications.

(Drug companies will not like that Canadian claim.)

*From Pedigree Dog Food- New research suggests not only does our heart rate become lower when in the company of our dog-- but so too does the dog’s heart rate -- to the point where both heart rhythms mirror one another. The experiment, sponsored by Pedigree, saw three Australian dog owners separated, and then reunited with their pet to see what effect they had on each other’s heart rate. Researchers found a strong coherence in the heart rate pattern of both the owner and dog. Upon being reunited within the first minute, each heart rhythm became almost directly aligned and both heart rates reduced right away.

*From an Austrian study in 2003- Owning a cat reduces feelings of loneliness. Though cats are often known for their independence, it turns out that cats can be just as good companions as dogs, especially for women. This research concluded having a cat in the house is the emotional equivalent of having a romantic partner.

*From the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 2002- Decreasing the chance of children developing all types of allergies – Couples expecting a baby might consider getting a pet. Having a cat or dog can help you prevent allergies in children. There are studies finding newborns that live with animals, specifically cats and dogs, are more likely to avoid developing allergies.

High pet exposure early in life appears to protect against not only pet allergy but also other types of common allergies, such as allergy to dust mites, ragweed, and grass. Being exposed to pets from an early age can trigger immunity. In addition, there is some evidence living with a cat or dog can also help prevent asthma in children. Early and regular contact with pets can help children avoid a number of respiratory problems.

*The healing power of purring- Purring appears to be a cat’s way of treating itself. Just like humans use shivering to warm the body, cats may purr at specific vibration frequencies to promote healing in various parts of their bodies. A cat’s purr frequency is 25 to 140 Hz. By changing the frequency of their purring, cats may be fine-tuning their healing abilities. The feline purr is at the exact frequency that heals bones, muscles, and ligaments. Hip dysplasia, arthritis, and ligament and muscle damage are all common to dogs, but almost nonexistent in cats. Even myeloma, a cancerous tumor in bone marrow, is practically unheard of in cats, yet quite common in dogs. Vets will tell you how much easier it is to fix a broken bone and how much quicker one heals in a cat compared to a dog.

There’s an old saying among veterinarians, “If you put a cat and a bunch of broken bones in the same room, the bones will heal.” Some scientists believe purring helps the cat owner too. Some owners claim they can stop their migraine headaches by lying down with a purring cat next to their head. Purring vibrations may play a part in lowering stress and blood pressure of their owners also.

For Adoption at Babylon Animal Shelter (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Both poster cats lost their homes because an elderly owner could no longer care for them. “Toby” is a huge mush- 23 pounds of mush. He’s six years old and on special urinary food which he eats with gusto. “Chloe” an affectionate, orange Maine Coon mix, five years old, needs a one-cat home.

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