Research has proven that those who own a pet have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels as well as less stress, depression, and loneliness than those who do not own a pet. In addition, studies show that growing up with a pet reduces your risk for allergies. It’s no wonder 44 percent of households in the United States own a dog and 35 percent own a cat. But not only is owning a pet good for your health, studies now prove that a pet’s illness can be a reflection of our own health.
If your pet is anxious, check your own anxiety level. A study from the University of Lincoln in England and the University of Sao Paulo found that domestic dogs actually have the ability to combine facial and vocal cues to perceive human emotions, which can make them attuned to your moods. For example, if you feel anxious and nervous during thunderstorms, it could cause your pet to develop a fear of thunder.
When I first read this study, my immediate thought was the image of Parker Posey’s character in the movie Best in Show hunting for her dog’s “busy bee.” If you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favor and rent it!
But the lesson that can be learned here is to try to calm your own anxiety if you start to notice tension in your pet. Both you and your pet could benefit from listening to soft music if you start to sense anxiety or tension in either yourself or your pet. Your pet might also benefit from watching you practice yoga or meditation during times of stress or anxiety.
If your pet is gaining weight, check your own habits. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 58 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. If you are leading a healthy lifestyle, chances are your pet is too. Likewise, if your pet’s weight is starting to go up and his activity level is starting to decline, you might want to check your own weight. Making a change in your nutritional and exercise habits for the better will benefit both you and your pet.
If your pet is excessively scratching or licking, it could mean allergies for both of you. Veterinarian Kathryn Primm, from Ooltewah, Tennessee, explains that if your pet has changed her grooming habits all of a sudden and is excessively scratching or licking, it could mean allergies. And if you happen to be coughing or sneezing at the same time, you could possibly be allergic to the same thing, such as pollen, mold, or dust mites.
Dr. Primm recommends talking to your veterinarian to help pinpoint what is bothering your pet. You can also wipe your pet’s paws when they come in from playing to help cut back on the pollen coming inside the house. If you think you are being bothered by allergies, it’s a good idea for you to shower before you go to bed at night to rinse the allergens off your body. Vacuuming regularly can also help cut back on indoor allergens.
Although it’s wonderful that our pet’s health can help monitor our own health, potential pet owners should obviously acquire a pet because they want the lifelong relationship; the added bonus is the physical and mental health benefits that come along with it. Pet ownership should not be entered into lightly as it is a big responsibility.
Once you are ready for a pet, visit petfinder.com to find your nearby animal shelter or rescue group and adopt rather than shop for a pet. There are millions of homeless pets just waiting for the right person to come along. Stop by an animal shelter today and improve the life of a homeless pet as well as your own.