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Pets improve your health?

March 18, 2012
tags: ,

Another cause of anxiety: Why does my dog eat grass?

Have you seen those articles about the five or 10 or 200 ways pets can improve your health? Hmmm. I am suspicious. After having a dog around here for a year, I suspect the writers of such articles and the researchers they quote are in cahoots, trying to convince their significant others to get a pet.

Pets are supposed to lower your blood pressure. Yeah, right. Take my blood pressure after Edmund (who’s standing in a foot of snow on the far side of the yard) pretends he doesn’t hear me yelling “Come! Treats! Let’s go inside!” when I’m already running late for an appointment.

Pets are supposed to help with anxiety. Yeah, right. Try my anxiety level when I need to leave the house and can’t find Edmund anywhere, even when I walk through the house and outside rattling a treat bag. Did I somehow forget him outside? Did one of those coyotes in the neighborhood get him? Would my husband ever forgive me if a coyote got him?

Pets are supposed to help people out of social isolation. Folks are supposed to see your cute pet and ask what breed he is and other questions, leading to an expanded social circle. Well, my social life was more active, thanks, when I didn’t have to worry about getting a pet sitter for the weekend. And while it’s true that lots of people ask what kind of dog he is or if he’s Toto (the Cairn terrier in The Wizard of Oz movie), none of these conversations have resulted in dinner invitations or even play dates for our dog.

Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home. I wouldn’t have an outburst, either, if there was a vicious looking animal hanging around.

Walking a dog provides exercise. This was one of the key selling points my husband used. But some days, it’s just too hot, too cold, too icy, too rainy, too dark, too humid or too something else to walk a dog, Hubby says. To be fair, I do get exercise turning the treadmill off and on and bending over to offer treats while trying to teach Edmund to walk on the treadmill. And I do get exercise crawling under the bed to coax Edmund out when he hides behind the shoes at bedtime.

Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are a lot more legal and cheaper than heroin and cocaine.  I suspect dealing with Edmund sometimes elevates my levels of a couple of other chemicals, especially when I discover he’s used the floor by the ping pong table for a litter box.

Male pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-owners. I’m guessing that is because they share their greasy table food with their pets when their wives aren’t looking. Better check their pets’ numbers.

Pet owners with certain diseases have less depression than those without pets. Frankly I got a little heartburn and depression after I tallied the year’s expenses under the “pet” category. But this was before, of course, I considered all the health benefits of having a pet, which no doubt saved lots of money.

For couples, in addition to all the health benefits of caring for a pet, there are also all the relationship benefits of being doggie parents or kitty parents together. Like how kind I was the day…

Well, I think I’ll save that discussion for another day.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. marcie olseh permalink
    March 18, 2012 5:15 pm

    Dog on treadmill!
    Brilliant!!!

  2. Judy Kallestad permalink
    March 19, 2012 4:43 am

    A really fun read! Tom & I do miss being doggie & kitty parents.

  3. becky stephens permalink
    March 20, 2012 6:31 am

    enjoyed ur story as usual, but i do love my dog and horses. (sometimes more than people)

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