Tag Archives: pets

Want a Health Boost? Get a Pet!

GetPetJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks
BSN, RN

As if it weren’t already enough, man’s best friend appears to provide more than companionship and unconditional love. Undoubtedly, pets can bring joy to our lives, as no one can deny the comfort that snuggling up together can bring or the pleasure we receive when we play with our pet. Research shows that owning or interacting with an animal offers a number of physical and psychological health benefits. Caring for or spending time with a pet can help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as ease loneliness and depression. Pets help to fulfill the basic human need to touch, and stroking or petting a dog or a cat releases pleasurable brain chemicals that can rapidly calm us and lower our heart rate and blood pressure. Researchers have found that dogs can not only understand our commands, they are also attuned to our emotions, body language and our tone of voice.

According to the American Heart Association, the therapeutic effect of dog ownership is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and may contribute to a longer healthier life span. One study of adults who had suffered heart attacks showed that dog owners were significantly more likely to outlive those who did not own pets. Another showed that married couples with pets had lower heart rates and blood pressure and had milder responses and a faster recovery from stressful situations. High blood pressure, often associated with a rapid heart rate, anxiety and stress, can be lowered by the positive emotions associated with the affection and relaxation brought on by petting.

Studies also show that dog owners, who regularly walk their dogs, are more likely to get the recommended dose of 30 minutes of daily physical activity and that both dogs and owners are less likely to be overweight. While adults are more inclined to skip exercise if the weather is not conducive, pets want and need to go out in all weather conditions. Regular walking keeps not only pets in good physical shape, it keeps owners healthier too. Older adults with pets were found to have greater mobility and were able walk longer distances with a faster gait than those without pets who didn’t walk regularly.

Dog walkers are likely to have increased social contact, as they are inclined to meet other like-minded pet owners while out walking, hiking or playing at the dog park. As older adults social circles grow smaller, feelings of isolation can grow larger. Having a pet can reduce loneliness and provide a sense of purpose, while helping people stay connected socially. Research supports that children who grow up with household pets, especially dogs, are likely to be better socialized and are less likely to be self centered, have allergies or miss school due to illness. For people in long term care facilities, animal assisted therapy provides comfort for those dealing with chronic illness and deteriorating mental health conditions.

Increasingly utilized in clinical and hospital settings, trained therapy dogs help to motivate patients and speed up the healing process. Dogs can encourage playfulness and laughter, boosting immune and mental health. Therapy dogs are also used by hospitals to help relieve patient anxiety before tests, such as MRI scans or other treatments. Some studies suggest that interaction with therapy dogs may decrease the levels of certain neurotransmitters associated with depression and anxiety, while increasing the level of oxytocin, a feel good hormone that helps reduce stress and boost happiness.  

Along with the health benefits of pet ownership comes both personal and financial responsibility. Practically speaking, in addition to love, attention and exercise, pets need nutritious food, shelter and veterinary care. Before you consider bringing a pet into your home, make sure you are committed to a lifetime relationship with your new family member. The most important thing to remember — happy, healthy pets equate to happy, healthy owners and vice versa!

Professional Supplement Center carries many quality lines of pet supplements to support your pets’ overall health, vitality and wellness.

Daily Probiotic For Dogs (Formerly Daily Digest)Daily Probiotic for Dogs by Pet Naturals of Vermont – Just as humans need to support the health of their digestive tract, pre and probiotics can support healthy intestinal microbial balance for proper digestion, regularity and immune function in dogs. This delicious chewable formula features a special probiotic strain along with high quality prebiotic fiber.

 

Canine Basic Nutrients (VETERINARY PRODUCT)Canine Basic Nutrients by Thorne Vet – This complete multivitamin and mineral complex provides a broad range of nutrients in support of your pets’ optimal health and vitality. Non-GMO formulation. Also available as Canine Geriatric Basics formulated to meet the nutritional needs of an aging pet.

 

Cardio-StrengthCardio-Strength™ by Vetri-Science – This comprehensive product features 11 synergistic ingredients and is specifically formulated to support heart muscles and cardiovascular health and function. Recommended for geriatric dogs or cats who may have sub-optimal cardiovascular functions or who may be predisposed to cardiovascular stress.

 

Daily Multi Vitamin and Mineral for CatsDaily Multi Vitamin and Minerals for Cats by Dancing Paws – This unique feline supplement is designed to provide optimal nutrient levels to promote normal growth and longevity. Capsules, which contain human grade vitamins, mineral and antioxidants, may be pulled apart to sprinkle ingredients directly on food. Also available, Daily Multi Vitamin and Minerals for Dogs chewable wafers.

 

Formula V3 Vet-Zimes (VETERINARY PRODUCT)

Formula V-3 Vet-Zimes by Ness Enzymes – This unique formula provides essential fatty acids and concentrated, specially cultivated enzymes in support of optimum digestion and healthy skin and haircoat for both dogs and kitties.  

 

References:
Can Pets Keep You Healthy? http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2009/February/feature1.htm
What are the health benefits of pet ownership? http://kb.rspca.org.au/what-are-the-health-benefits-of-pet-ownership_408.html
The Health Benefits of Dogs (and Cats). http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/the-health-benefits-of-pets.htm
Pet therapy: Man’s best friend as healer. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/pet-therapy/art-20046342
5 Health Benefits of Therapy Dogs. http://www.therapydogcertification.com/5-health-benefits-of-therapy-dogs/
Benefits of Owning a Pet. http://www.hopeforpets.org/Benefits%20of%20Owning%20a%20Pet.htm

Holiday Tips for Pet Owners

pet_xmasSusanBiconBy Susan Brown
Health & Wellness Editor
 

It’s that wonderful time of year! Yes, the holidays are upon us and with that comes the hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping, decorating and entertaining. Just as the holiday season can be a source of joy, it can also be a time of stress and anxiety for everyone including our pets. So, when you are making your list and checking it twice, you may want to add one more to-do item – a reminder to keep your pets safe and healthy during the season of celebrating. Holiday foods, Christmas trees, presents, decorations, and visitors all have the potential to dampen your pet’s holiday spirits. If running to the vet during the holidays because the dog ate a box of chocolate or the cat ingested a ribbon is not your idea of holiday fun, you can rest assured it’s not your pet’s idea of a good time either.

The following tips may help ensure the season is merry and bright for your furry family members:

Visitors:

  • While festivities abound, sticking as closely as possible to your pet’s normal routine will help to keep your pet happy and relaxed. Staying on the same feeding, walking, playtime and rest schedules helps to reduce the confusion of festivities or relieve the stress of a houseful of unfamiliar guests.
  • Not all guests are comfortable around dogs and vice versa, so be sure to provide a safe, quiet and comfortable space where your pet can be confined when necessary.
  • If you choose to let your pet join in the festivities, be aware that pets may need an occasional break from noise or attention. If you have small guests and your pet is not used to their attention, keep a watchful eye for signs of stress and isolate your pet to avoid overstimulation.
  • Be aware that as people come and go during a party or celebration, it’s the perfect opportunity for pets to escape. Be sure they have ID tags on at all times and perhaps consider making one person responsible for their whereabouts during festivities.

Holiday foods:

  • While it may be tempting to give your pets leftovers from the holiday table, keep in mind that some foods can cause gastric upset or may be toxic to your pet. Chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, rich fatty foods, macadamia nuts, alcohol and other foods can sicken or require hospitalization for pets who ingest them.
  • Make sure guests know your rules and keep pet treats or kibble handy for those who can’t resist giving a nibble to the little beggars waiting patiently nearby.
  • Clear plates and glasses from low tables where pets can quickly gobble up food that’s remaining. You may not notice but they will be hyper aware of where any available food may be.
  • Excitement and anxiety can lead to thirst, so be sure your pets have plenty of clean water at all times.

Christmas trees and holiday plants:

  • Keep certain holiday plants, such as mistletoe, holly, amaryllis, and to a lesser extent poinsettias, high and out of reach of pets. When ingested, they may all cause serious and in some cases potentially fatal health issues. Lilies can cause kidney damage in cats, so keep these away from curious kitties or don’t bring them inside at all. Pine needles are also potentially dangerous if eaten, so clean fallen needles regularly.
  • Cats love to climb in Christmas trees and a large dog can easily knock over a tree, so be sure it is securely anchored. Keep ornaments off low lying branches if you have a curious cat that likes to play. Food based garlands are tempting, so reconsider decorating with popcorn or cranberry strands in order to keep your tree upright and your pets safe. You may want to skip the candy canes as well.
  • Breakable glass ornaments can present a danger to pets. Round, shiny ball shaped ornaments can be mistaken for toys and if broken, shards can become imbedded in your pet’s paws, mouth or esophagus. Bubble lights are pretty but they contain methylene chloride. Exposure to this chemical can irritate pet’s eyes, skin, lungs and GI tract.
  • Prevent access to the water in the tree stand by covering it with a tree skirt or use other means to keep pets from drinking the water.
  • Keep electrical cords well hidden, wrapped or in cord containers and make sure they are out of reach for pets who may be tempted to chew on them.

Decorations and gift wrappings:

  • Lit candles can present a hazard if left on low lying tables where they could easily be knocked over. Pets may find seasonal scented candles tempting for their smell, taste and texture. You may know it’s not apple pie but your pet will not. Keep candles up high and out of reach of pets.
  • Your pets will be able to smell any wrapped food gifts left under the tree or in stockings. Be sure these gifts are placed out of reach of pets unless you want to find an empty box or a sick pet on Christmas morning.
  • Wrappings that include ribbons, yarns, bows or strings present choking or intestinal obstruction hazards to pets. You may want to stick with paper only wrappings and avoid these tempting and potentially dangerous items.
  • Be careful of holiday gifts even if they are made especially for pets. When swallowed, small objects or parts can present choking or obstruction hazards. Choose wisely as toxic chemical residues, preservatives or dyes can also be present. Avoid toys with strong odors, bright colors, flame retardants or stain guard. Buy toys that are suitable to your pet’s age, development and personality.

Pets as gifts:

  • While many may wish to give or receive a puppy or kitten, the holidays are not a good time to bring new pets into the home. New pets will require training and establishing a routine is difficult enough without the commotion of the holidays.
  • Good intentions aside, while pets bring love and companionship, they also bring responsibility and a long-term commitment. Consider waiting until after the holidays and get your new pet when decorations are stored and life is back to its normal routine.
  • Giving a gift certificate for a shelter pet, bedding, food or supplies rather than an actual pet allows recipients to choose the right time to make this important decision. Pet adoption is much more successful when you find the right match for yourself or your family and can give your pet the time, love and attention your new furry family member undoubtedly deserves.  

References:

Winter Holiday Pet Poison Tips. Online. http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/seasons/winter-holiday-pet-poison-tips/

Keeping Your Pets Safe from Holiday Season Dangers. Online. http://www.sdhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ter_release120808

Holiday Safety Tips for Dogs. Marty Smith, DMV. Online. http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2098&aid=932

Dogs and Holidays. Online. https://www.akc.org/public_education/holiday_safety.cfm