Why Owning A Pet Is Beneficial To Your Family’s Health

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Many pet owners want companion animals to make their lives more joyful and enjoyable than ever. What most of them might not be aware of are the physical and mental health benefits owning a pet can bring into their households. Some studies found that caring for pets can help your loving family members cope with various health issues.

Pets, especially dogs, can reduce stress, anxiety, loneliness, and even depression. Because they can understand many of the words we use and interpret our tone and body language, dogs can gauge our emotional state. They can also encourage physical exercise and improve our cardiovascular health. Teresa Paterson, LPC, LCPC, RPT, CCTP explains that “Therapy Dogs are a type of service dog, although Therapy Dogs training is specific to meet the needs of multiple people in an intimate setting.”

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The Health Benefits For Adults And The Elderly

Being a pet owner plays a vital role in healthy aging. It can help the older adults in our family boost their morale, optimism, self-worth, and sense of fulfillment even after retirement. Caring for a pet also lets our elders maintain a social network. Anyone can spark up a conversation about a favorite animal, which can be a great start in meeting new people.

Meanwhile, facing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is inevitable as we age. Patients with the said disease may exhibit various behavioral problems, with many related to their inability to deal with stress. In line with this, a University of California at Davis research concluded patients who own a pet at home become less stressed and deal with fewer anxious outbursts.

The Health Benefits For Children

Studies suggest that children who grow up with pets have less risk of having health issues such as allergies and asthma. They also learn how to be responsible and compassionate at a young age. The mere presence of pets at home can contribute to children having a sense of security, especially when their parents are not around.

Melissa Burns, LCPC, LLC said: “Animals offer support and nonjudgmental healing opportunities and can serve as a bridge for patients to bond with their healthcare providers.” Research has also shown that kids who are emotionally attached to their pets can better build relationships with other people. They can also help calm overly aggressive children. Playing with their cats or dogs can serve as a source of relaxation and stimulation for the brain and body.

It has also been found that some children with autism or other learning difficulties can interact with pets better than they do with people. Now it is yet to be determined whether learning to connect with a pet first may help children on the spectrum interact better with other people.

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The Right Pets

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the following to more likely get communicable zoonotic diseases from animals:

  • Children aged five and below
  • People with weak immune systems
  • Elderly

Pregnant women also face a higher risk of suffering from animal-related diseases. Here are some essential things to remember in choosing your family pet:

  • Households with children aged five and below should not own pet reptiles and amphibians such as turtles, lizards, snakes, and frogs. We also do not recommend backyard poultry, which can pose a risk of serious illness from harmful germs.
  • Pregnant women should avoid owning a new cat or touching stray cats, especially kittens. Cats can carry a parasite that causes a disease which can lead to congenital disabilities. If you are pregnant and already own a cat, you do not need to give it up. However, you should refrain from changing cat litter. You must also avoid direct contact with a pet rodent.

According to Phyllis Laughlin, LCPC, “Some people benefit from anti-depressants for symptom relief. Pet therapy is often beneficial, whether it’s an animal at home or a therapy service dog.” However, it is best to talk to a veterinarian before making pet ownership decisions for your family’s healthier and stress-free life.

How Pets Help People With Dementia And Alzheimer’s Disease

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When you explore care facilities and nursing homes nowadays, you’ll notice the presence of several animals there. You might see a person petting a dog, a cat doing its rounds, or a parrot entertaining some patients. There are hundreds of published researches stating how useful these pets are to those who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some of their benefits.

They Keep People Calm

A study from Ohio State University stated that whenever these patients visit farms, they display a more active physical presence. Their energy increases even more whenever they are asked to groom, feed, and bathe horses. The nonjudgmental behavior of horses, the tranquility of the farm, and its smells trigger their peaceful childhood memories, according to experts. Melissa Burns, LCPC, LLC agrees to the statement by saying “It is noted that the Ancient Greeks used horse-assisted therapy as early as 600BC to raise the spirits of the incurably ill.”

They Improve Nutrition

An experiment by a couple of Purdue University researchers started by placing fish aquariums in the rooms of 60 patients with Alzheimer’s. They use these fish aquariums every day for two weeks and then once a week for six weeks to analyze the effects of the presence of these fishes on the nutritional status of the patients.

The researchers saw that their food intake increased slowly in the first two to three weeks and continued doing so in the succeeding weeks. For those six weeks, the patients gained approximately 1.6 pounds, and some were given the green light by their doctors to let go of several of their nutritional supplementations.

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They Help With Behavioral Problems

Another research studied the effects of the presence of a resident dog rather than relying on a visiting dog. The researchers started the experiment by measuring the resident’s behavior weeks before the resident dog arrived (the visiting dog still visits the place two to three times a week). The next observation happens four weeks after placing the dog on the unit. Peg Shippert, MA, LPC said “A therapy dog can bring both physical and emotional benefits. The less physical and emotional stress you are experiencing, the more present and receptive you are to therapy, both immediately and over the longer term.” And that what entirely happens.

The results found a significant positive change in behavior in the patients during the four weeks of conducting the study. This claim was backed up by other research studies which stated that their aggression and agitation declined whenever they lived with these pets.

They Improve Memory

The improvement of the memory of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has a direct correlation with the presence of service animals. Those with memory loss often find themselves more engaged with these pets, and they do remember them most of the time. Their memory loss even improves more significantly if they are also pet owners in the past.

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They Improve Social Interaction

A group of women with dementia was recently studied while they were living in a nursing home. The researchers observed that their ability to spark and sustain meaningful conversations increases after spending 10 to 20 minutes of their time with cats.

Annie Zenn, MS, LPC explain that “numerous research studies have been undertaken to validate the benefits of animal-assisted activity and in particular the contribution of therapy dogs.” Animals provide large doses of laughter, love, and light to people’s lives every day. However, these pets mean so much more for those people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia since their therapeutic aura improves their condition significantly. These adorable critters can make a difference in the lives of both the patients and their loved ones.…

Best Dog Breeds To Battle Depression

Dogs are, indeed, man’s best friend. In the age of mental health awareness and advocacy, studies have very clearly shown that dogs can assist significantly. More research has provided that owning a dog improves blood circulation, elevates the good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, and lowers cholesterol.

According to Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC, “Depression is exhausting to the person suffering from it. Just accomplishing the bare minimum can seem like too much work.” Dog owners will attest that the benefits of having a dog outweigh the cost in time and money. Dogs offer a unique degree of companionship and affection that arguably no other being, human or otherwise, can provide consistently.

“Loneliness is an epidemic, We’re the most socially connected society, yet so many people experience extreme loneliness,” says psychologist Amy Sullivan, PsyD. In the battle for depression, along with other mental health issues, the dogs below have been tested and proven to provide the needed support for individuals by giving love, responsibility, activity, and routine. Read the following discussions on these dogs and see for yourself which dog best fits your personality.

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Although not that big, this dog provides that much needed cuddle time that everybody yearns for. Dubbed as the love sponge and the cuddle bug, this dog has been included in top royal circles for its beauty, elegance, and easygoing personality. These dogs are naturally happy and affectionate.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are grooming and susceptibility to heart-related ailments.

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Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are a staple in not only the dog industry but also the movie industry. They are your typical all-around, can-do dogs that never back out of any situation or person. They are also known to show an immense capacity to love and are very easily trainable as they are well-behaved. Aside from its loving nature, they are very active and playful.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are shedding of fur and physical exhaustion due to their need for daily activity.


Who does not love a dog that naturally looks grumpy day in and day out? Despite their somewhat fixed facial configuration, pugs are delightful, charming, and surprisingly well-mannered, on top of being one of the goofiest dogs in town.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are cardiovascular issues and lack of physical activity.


Corgis lack in size, but they make up for in intuition and guidance. Known as the working dog, Corgis were born leaders of the pack, with a combination of intelligence, curiosity, and eagerness to learn. These dogs can read the feelings of their owner and could adapt accordingly.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are hip-related concerns and eye health issues.

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Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus, known as a meme online (and rightfully so), is cute, attentive, alert, and active. Shiba Inus are known to be aloof and independent, but are playful and possess a carefree nature. Among all dog classes, this kind of dog is arguably one of the most low-maintenance pets.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are difficulty in training and knee issues.

Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC said, “There are many effective treatments for depression that are available to you when you make the decision to get help for your depression.” One of them is animal therapy, of course. Do you have a pet dog that supports you in your battle against depression? Share with us your experience in the comments!…