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Editorial

Casper Critters


Pets Provide People with Health Benefits



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02/01/2011 - By Gayle Irwin

A New Year has begun and at this time many people make resolutions for better health. Additionally, a great deal of talk these days centers on health insurance and health care. If you're one of those folks who's made a resolution for better health and if you'd like to not give your doctor as much money in 2011, here's a simple solution: get a pet!

Did you know having a pet provides health benefits? Maybe not money-wise as far as many of those insurance premiums, but certainly benefits in both physical and emotional health.

Many organizations, including the Center for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association, echo the physical and emotional health benefits that pets provide people. For example, having a dog increases your chances of getting physical exercise, such as walking, hiking, and stretching (think about when you throw the ball for Fido in a game of fetch).

Many studies show people with pets have lower cholesterol and triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and decreased stress. The simple act of petting a dog or cat helps us relax a bit. Pets can also decrease feelings of loneliness, fear and anxiety. Walking your dog can increase your socialization interactions, and pets in households with Alzheimer's patients have been known to help those patients reduce their outbursts. People are less likely to suffer from depression if a pet or two resides in the home, and older people with pets enjoy better health both emotionally and physically.

During this month when thoughts and feelings often turn to love and commitment, we should remember that our pets provide both unconditional love and devotion.

Pets offer us many emotional and physical health benefits, and some pets can even help predict seizures, discover cancers, and alert people to low blood sugar attacks. Dogs and cats have been known to warn their owners of dangers, such as intruders and fire, and many have risked their own lives (at times losing them) to protect or rescue their human companions.

Scripture tells us "no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for another." Humankind does not have the ownership on laying down one's life there are many stories about a pet's devotion and ultimate sacrifice for its human friend. February is the month of love -- may we humans consider and honor the dedication of our pets, the lessons they can teach us, and the many physical and emotional benefits they give us.

For more information on the emotional and physical benefits of pets, visit the following websites:

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=0+1278+1490&aid=638 and

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=0+1278+1490&aid=640 and

http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/health-benefits-of-pets

http://www.bestfriends.org/theanimals/pdfs/allpets/benefitsofpets.pdf

Happy Valentine's Day! Give your pet a big hug on this special day!

______________________________________________________________________________

Gayle Irwin is a freelance writer and a speaker in schools and libraries. Her publication credits include two children's books about her blind dog, Sage, a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Lessons Learned from the Dog (Sept. 2009), and a story in the Chicken Soup edition Devotional Stories for Mothers (Oct. 2010). Learn more at www.sagestory.com or www.gaylemirwin.com.

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