I’ve always been a dog person, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that cats have idiosyncrasies no self-respecting dog would ever engage in. For instance, why do cats insist on waking you up before the alarm goes off?
Contrary to popular belief, cats are not nocturnal. “Nocturnal” refers to animals that are awake at night and sleep during the day. However, cats sleep at night, as we do – just not as long. Cats are “crepuscular,” which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. This is because their ancestors’ natural prey was most active at these times. Although cats have good night vision, they can’t see without light, so they do sleep at night.
Pet ownership comes with many proven physical, mental and emotional health benefits – from enhancing social skills to decreasing the risk of heart attack.
Consider a University of Wisconsin-Madison study which found that a pet in the home can lower a child’s likelihood of developing allergies by as much as 33 percent. This research, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, shows that when children are exposed at an early age to animals they tend to develop stronger lifelong immunities. Continue reading “Pets provide health, emotional benefits for owners by Ed Boks”
The sun is shining, the temps are rising, and it’s time to put on our hiking boots and appreciate the beautiful outdoors. But don’t head out without your four-legged friend; they’re itching to enjoy the spring air with you!
Outdoor opportunities you can enjoy with your dog abound. When taking Fido with you to explore, be aware of trail etiquette, safety factors and leash laws.
Most communities require dogs to be on a leash not to exceed six feet in length. The leash law keeps your dog safe from run-ins with wildlife and vegetation. In addition, it helps others feel safe on the trail who may not know that your dog is friendly or, worse yet, may have an unfriendly or timid dog with them.
If your dog isn’t trained to walk calmly and politely on a leash—don’t leave them at home; practice makes perfect! There are many techniques to teach your dog “loose leash” walking. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
• The more exercise a dog gets, the easier leash training will be.
• Positively reinforce your dog walking close to you by being generous with high value rewards (like good treats).
• Play red light/green light: If the dog begins to pull, stop and wait. If they stop and loosen up, reward with a treat and then proceed.
• Before your dog gets to the end of the leash to pull, lower your leash and move backward a step or two. Reward your dog when he comes back to you. If repeated enough times, dogs will learn that any tension on the leash will only delay them from getting to what they want.
I mentioned run-ins with defensive wildlife and one concern on nearly every pet owner’s mind when they put on their hiking boots is the rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes are particularly active in the springtime and it’s important to be attentive.
There are some helpful precautions you can take for your four-legged hiking buddy, one of which is a rattlesnake vaccine. While the canine rattlesnake vaccine won’t make your pet immune to all effects of a rattlesnake’s venom, it can give you extra time to seek medical attention for your dog and may lessen the need for antivenin. That’s a big benefit, for your pet and your pocketbook. Call your veterinarian to learn more about the canine rattlesnake vaccine.
Another safety measure you can take is rattlesnake avoidance training. Rattlesnake avoidance trains your dog to recognize and avoid the sight, smell and sound of a rattlesnake, which can be a lifesaving skill that can protect not only your dog but for you as well. Ask your local Pet Emergency Hospital if they know who is offering a community class on Rattlesnake Avoidance Training.
Be sure to also keep the temperatures in mind and provide plenty of water for your dog.
Are you having trouble sticking to your new year’s resolution to exercise more? Maybe you need a good physical trainer to help meet your fitness goals. Have you considered your best friend? Research shows that dogs are actually nature’s perfect personal trainers. Dogs are naturally loyal, hardworking, energetic and enthusiastic…basically the perfect work-out partner. And, unlike human workout partners who may skip an exercise session because of appointments, extra chores or bad weather, dogs never give you an excuse to skip exercising.
The sun is shining, the temps are rising, and it’s time to put on our hiking boots and appreciate the beautiful outdoors. Don’t head out without your four-legged friend; they’re itching to enjoy the spring air with you!
Humans and animals have a long history together. Evidence of this is found with a 12,000-year-old human skeleton in Israel with a hand resting on the skeleton of a 6-month-old wolf pup. Our long relationship with companion animals has given rise to a field of study called anthrozoology – the study of human-animal interactions.
“When you see how long we’ve had pets in our lives, and how important they are to us it’s amazing the study is so new,” says Dr. Sandra Barker, director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University. “Researchers have only just begun to explore this wonderful relationship and its health benefits.”
Best-selling author Jeffrey Masson explains in his book, The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving (How dogs have captured our hearts for thousands of years), that the human capacity for love, sympathy, empathy, and compassion may actually have developed as a result of our long association with dogs. Continue reading “Anthrozoology studies the human-animal bond by Ed Boks”
The oldest evidence of the human/animal bond is found with a 12,000-year-old human skeleton in Israel with its hand resting on the skeleton of a 6-month-old wolf pup. Curiously, our long relationship with companion animals has only recently given rise to a field of study called anthrozoology – the study of human-animal interactions.
When you consider how long we’ve had pets in our lives, and how important they are to us it’s amazing the study of human-animal interactions is so new. Researchers have only just begun to explore this wonderful relationship.
Jeffrey Masson, author of “The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving (How Dogs Have Captured Our Hearts for Thousands of Years),” opines that the human capacity for love, sympathy, empathy and compassion may actually have developed as a result of our long association with dogs.
Dr. Ann Berger, a researcher at the National Institute of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., says “The bond animals and humans have is part of our evolution, and it’s very powerful.”
Dr. James Griffin, a scientist at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, says, “There are health benefits to owning pets, both in terms of psychological growth and development, as well as physical health benefits.”
A NIH research study found that when children are asked who they talk to when they are upset, the most common answer is their pet – demonstrating the importance of pets as a source of comfort and developing empathy. Therapists and researchers also report that children with autism are sometimes better able to interact with pets, and this may help in their interactions with people.
Many studies suggest pets can help improve our cardiovascular health. One NIH study involving 421 adults who had suffered heart attacks found that dog owners were significantly more likely to be alive a year later than were those who did not own dogs, regardless of the severity of the heart attack.
Another study looked at 240 married couples. Those who owned a pet were found to have lower heart rates and blood pressure, whether at rest or when undergoing stressful tests, than those without pets. Pet owners also seemed to have milder responses and quicker recovery from stress when they were with their pets than with a spouse or friend.
One NIH investigation looked at more than 2,000 adults and found dog owners who regularly walked their dogs were more physically active and less likely to be obese than those who didn’t own or walk a dog. Another NIH study followed more than 2,500 older adults, ages 71-82, for 3 years. Those who regularly walked their dogs walked faster and longer each week than others who didn’t walk regularly. Older dog walkers also had greater mobility inside their homes than others in the study.
Man’s best friend may help you make more human friends too. Several studies have shown that walking with a dog leads to more conversations and helps you stay socially connected. Other studies have shown that people who have more social relationships tend to live longer and are less likely to show mental and physical declines as they grow older.
Several research teams are examining the benefits of bringing specially trained animals into clinical settings. Animal-assisted therapies are increasingly offered in hospitals and nursing homes nationwide and clinicians who watch patients interact with animals say they clearly see the benefits, including improved mood and reduced anxiety.
Your local animal shelter has the largest selection of mood enhancing, anxiety mitigating companion animals in your community. Isn’t it time you took advantage of the many health benefits that comes with adopting a pet?