And They Call it Puppy Love!

 

A Puppy A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

STORY BY: LESLIE RESCHLY BSN,RN

 

I find myself in this state of emotion with the recent new member of our family, a black Labrador Retriever Puppy! With an empty nest, I now am toilet – training and walking in my yard all hours of the day or night. And I am happy! Nuts maybe… but Happy!

I’m so happy that my husband has nicknamed our little addition “Puppy Prozac”. Actually, he is very happy too!

Having had a chocolate lab that raised our three children before passing on to dog heaven, at the age of 14, we not only had a childless nest, we had a pet-less nest for over 1 year. Sporadic visits of our grand-dogger Sadie helped to reinforce my decision to search for another pet.

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The health benefits of pet ownership are well documented. Although many of you have unconventional pets such as birds, rodents and snakes (EEK!), most research and reporting has been conducted around cats and dogs. The main benefits noted by those study- ing man’s best friends first focus on the fact that animals give unconditional love providing companionship, alleviation of loneliness and a boost to mood. They provide a sense of purpose to an owner as they have needs for food, exercise and play.

Speaking of exercise, it has been proven that dog owners do get more exercise than their non-dog counterparts. Pets have been found to improve human cardiovascular health through decreased heart rates, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels which overall may decrease your risk of heart attack. One article I read even suggested that those individuals who were dog owners were more likely to be alive after a heart attack! That dog will force you to engage in activity from walking, jogging or hiking to agility training and water sports. We all know the benefits of exercise including decreased stress levels!

Some research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests pet presence in the home has been linked to children less likely to have allergies by 33%. This would include asthma and skin eczema. In addition, children raised with pets have benefited from decreased anxiety and the presence of a source of comfort in the animal within their home. Current- ly, approximately 2/3 of the households in the USA own at least one pet.

Emotionally, we have all heard of the benefits of Pet Therapy in institutional- ized settings such as nursing homes. Pets have also been used to relieve distress of cancer patients with pain, soothe the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and provide companionship to Alzheimer’s patients and the elderly. In fact, those individuals suffering from depression and mental illness benefit from a pet as a “reason to get up” each day.

If you need a motivation to begin an exercise program, consider a dog as a way to lose or maintain your weight. People responsible for walking pets have been found to be less likely to be obese. One friend of mine is helping an elderly neighbor by walking his dog regularly.

Finally, a good dog may even get you a date with the person of your dreams! Having a pet leads to socialization and interaction with other pet owners at dog parks, walks and events. A dog is a conversation starter for many interactions and is known to be a matchmaker comparable to match.com!

So, this New Year’s Day will find me with my puppy Macy underfoot, snuggling or walking, intercepting shoes and objects she is determined to chew on and making repeated trips outside to prevent accidents! And I will be Happy!

A Happy and Healthy 2016 to you and your favorite pet!

 

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