Category Archives: guest post

How Pets Can Improve Your Health

Peaceful coexistenceExpert cites scientifically-proven therapeutic, physical and emotional health benefits of loving and caring for a pet

Pet ownership runs far deeper than simply caring for a possession. Yes, the sheer responsibility of caring for a pet has notable benefits in and of itself. But, pets also become bona fide family members with which we establish genuine relationships—incomparable emotional bonds that can have extraordinarily positive physical and psychological impacts on humans.

Below, Paul Mann, Founder and CEO of FETCH! Pet Care, spotlights many of the well-proven therapeutic and health benefits of pets, as reported on www.HelpGuide.org:

  • The average domestic pet, such as a dog, cat—even a goldfish—can provide many therapeutic and health benefits. Pets can ease loneliness, reduce stress, promote social interaction, encourage exercise and playfulness, and provide unconditional love and affection. Caring for a pet may even help you live longer.
  • The American Heart Association has linked the ownership of pets, especially dogs, with a reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity.

Studies have also found that:

  • Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
  • People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.
  • Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.

While people with dogs often experience the greatest health benefits, a pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or a cat. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.

For children, pets provide many emotional and physical benefits, including:

  • Children who grow up with pets not only have less risk of allergies and asthma.
  • Many also learn responsibility, compassion, and empathy from having pets.
  • The mere presence of pets at home can help provide a sense of security in children. Having an ever-present dog or cat, for example, can help ease separation anxiety in children when mom and dad aren’t around.
  • Studies have also shown that pets can help calm hyperactive or overly aggressive kids.
  • Playing with a pet can even be a doorway to learning for a child. It can stimulate a child’s imagination and curiosity. The rewards of training a dog to perform a new trick, for example, can teach kids the importance of perseverance.

For older individuals, pets can play an important role in healthy aging by:

 

  • Helping you find meaning and joy in life. As you age, you’ll lose things that previously occupied your time and gave your life purpose. You may retire from your career or your children may move far away. Caring for a pet can bring pleasure and help boost your morale and optimism. Taking care of an animal can also provide a sense of self-worth. Choosing to adopt an animal from a shelter, especially an older dog or cat, can add to the sense of fulfillment, knowing that you’ve provided a home to a pet that may otherwise have been euthanized.
  • Staying connected. Maintaining a social network isn’t always easy as you grow older. Retirement, illness, death, and moves can take away close friends and family members. And making new friends can get harder. Dogs especially are a great way for seniors to spark up conversations and meet new people.
  • Boosting vitality. You can overcome many of the physical challenges associated with aging by taking good care of yourself. Pets encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost your immune system and increase your energy.

“With such a vast number of benefits associated with pet ownership, how wonderful it would be for every home in America to have a domestic animal to take care of and love…and to be loved by,” notes Mann. “While schedules can make it difficult for some to bear the responsibility of a pet, resources such as professional in-home pet walkers and sitters are available to ensure Fido and Felix not only receive food, water and outdoor time, but also love, affection and even physical fitness when the owner is away for extended periods. Such services make it feasible for individuals and families to own pets, and enjoy the copious physical and emotional benefits related thereto, when they otherwise could not.”

Source:
http://www.helpguide.org/life/pets.htm
Authors Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

Paul Mann is the Founder and CEO of Fetch! Pet Care—the nation’s largest and most trusted franchisor for professional pet sitting, dog walking, and pet fitness/exercise services—serving thousands of pets and pet parents throughout the United States from coast to coast. He may be reached online at: www.FetchPetCare.com.

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Is fostering the answer? We think it is.

Millie at shelterNEW JERSEY – Animal shelters are full, they have no space, they often have no money, and they have a small amount of dedicated volunteers. Animals in the tri-state area are euthanized daily, rescue groups are unable to save as many lives as they wish, and animals spend years in boarding kennels while awaiting adopters to fall in love with them. Many of these boarding animals are forgotten. There is an estimated 3-4million pets euthanized each year in US animal shelters. That’s 10,000 per day on average. There must be a way to curb at least some of this. There is. Fostering.

There is a strong lack of homes willing to open their doors to fostering a shelter pet. Maybe it’s because they assume that a shelter animal is “broken”, or that they think they would never be able to give the animal up to an adopter, it would break their heart. The former could not be further from the truth. And the latter is selfish. Imagine the heart exploding with happiness that the beautiful pet you have supported and loved, has found forever love with a great family. Look at tail wag.

Many shelter animals are down on their luck, and need a second chance. They have lived in homes before, they have lived with children, other pets, and life was great! But perhaps their human passed away, or maybe they fell on hard times and just couldn’t afford pet care any longer. And now Muffy or Fluffy or Spike or Spot is sitting in a cage wondering what on earth happened. Sure, there are some shelter pets who sadly have never felt love, or the affection of a human before. Some were abused or neglected. But all of them still have hope, they wag their tails, they purr. One thing they all have in common is the dangerous waiting game. Will they get sick in the shelter? Will they go crazy if they are there too long? Will they gain bad behaviors because they are not receiving the natural love, attention and comforts that a home should provide? Will they make it out alive at all?

How the animals end up in the shelter in the first place is a societal problem that we alone cannot fix. But if people opened their homes to shelter pets we could save a bunch of lives and help animals transition into forever homes much more easily. That at least would be a start till our society puts a higher value on the lives and existence of our furry friends, till the law stands up for our 4-legged buddies, till shelters are no longer overflowing with the unwanted.

Fostering is a wonderful experience. As a foster parent, you can set certain guidelines with the rescue group as to what type of animal you prefer. A certain breed, age, sex, temperament, that you think will fit into your home. If you work full time and already have a dog, you can always request a dog-friendly foster pet who is house-trained. You will have the full support of the rescue group. But you must also give them full support in return. You must make a minimum time commitment (some rescues require 3 months, some 6 months). Your job as a foster is to guide the pet into being the best it can be, to get it ready for a forever home. That could involve teaching a dog to stay off the couch or walk better on leash, or teaching a cat to welcome other pets or to play, or simply to teach trust and love.

For an adopter, it makes the process a little easier. There is less guessing. We are certainly not suggesting that potential adopters should shy away from shelters when making adoption decisions. We LOVE shelters and wish more people would consider adopting a pet direct from a shelter, instead of using it only as a dumping ground. But for some, they need to know more specifics that a shelter often times cannot provide. When a pet lives in a foster home, it has a better chance of showing it’s personality, of displaying more natural behaviors. An adoptee can be told if that pet likes children, what commands it knows, how it acts in a dog park, what it’s favorite game or past time is, how it is with car travel, what it acts like when strangers enter the home, whether it needs a home with adults only, etc. Some of these traits can be noted by a shelter, but to many the transition from shelter directly to home is one that results in many adopters returning pets.

A pet needs time to decompress, to learn trust, to “get over” the shelter experience. This may be easy for some pets, and not so easy for others. A patient and loving foster home can help them through this process. Each rescue group is different with the type of support it offers it fosters. Some pay for all medical bills, some even pay for food. But all are ready with any help and advice they can provide. The rescue will promote the pet on social media and it’s website, as well as on sites such as PetFinder.com. If appropriate, the pet would also be part of adoption events where the general public can visit the pet. It is always helpful if the foster also promotes the pet to their contacts. They are the best ambassador for that pet.

One example of a wonderful dog that would flourish in a foster home is Millie. She was on the kill list in NYC and was pulled by A Pathway to Hope Rescue, after Rock & Rawhide advocated for her life. A great dog with so much potential, she is currently staying at A Hotel for Dogs in Middletown NJ, a doggie day care facility. She spent 2.5 months in the shelter, and now almost 1 month at the Hotel, where she is doing great. But it is time for Millie to find a home! 2 years old, sweet, affectionate, listens to commands, obedient, healthy, loves to play, walks great on leash, and loves the car. Yet she’s just one of hundreds, actually one of thousands of dogs in boarding today. Lucky enough to have their lives saved. Unlucky enough that they are still in limbo….waiting.

Consider fostering. Consider adopting. Consider volunteering at your local animal shelter or rescue group. And always, hug your pets a little tighter, knowing they are the very lucky ones.

About Rock & Rawhide
Rock & Rawhide aims to increase adoptions and quality of life for dogs and cats in shelters, by providing distraction therapy and noise/stress reduction through the donations of toys, tough chew items, Kongs, Nylabones, bones, rawhides, blankets and more. If a dog is chewing, it’s not barking! If a cat is playing, it’s not meowing! Less noise = less stress. In turn, dogs and cats can pass their evaluations at shelters, and show more of their personality, making them more adoptable. We collect items through regular donations, music gigs, visual art shows, culinary events, DJ events, drop box programs, and more.

About A Pathway to Hope Rescue
A Pathway to Hope is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of abandoned dogs and cats, with a special focus on south to north rescue of northern breed dogs, the rescue of stray cats, and community outreach to further the cause of rescue.

About Hotel For Dogs
Dedicated to providing your dog with only the very best in lodging, play, and love. An owner-operated facility, staffed by hard-working, energetic dog lovers. It’s not enough for us to simply provide your dog with a little space while you’re away. We want them wagging their tails, making new friends, and singing doggy farewells when you come to pick them up – because we’re dog owners too and we know how hard it is to leave them.

Posted in guest post, people helping animals | 2 Comments