The Benefits of Owning a Pet for a Healthier, Happier Life
For many of us, life without pets seems almost unimaginable. They are a source of entertainment, companionship, and an endless source of unconditional love. The tiniest of them has the ability to pick us up when we are down. The largest can find the most hidden, vulnerable place in our hearts and settle in for a lifetime.
Today @cabotcheese is showing our #pets some love – “How Pets Make Our Lives Better” + some cheesy pet snack recipes! http://ow.ly/MWxHx
In addition to the simple joy we get from our pets, there are also real, measurable medical benefits that come from interacting with animals. Here are five ways our animal companions help us lead healthier, happier lives.
- Exercise and Socialization: Two benefits in one! Pet owners are generally more active day to day. Sure, your dog’s ears perk up when you mention the “W” word; she knows how much fun walkies can be. But those daily walks are benefiting her human too. Studies show that people with pets tend to exercise more than non-pet owners. And while they’re out, pet owners are found to be more social, with a better ability to fend off feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is true from humans of any age, but is especially true of elderly pet owners.
- Snuggle a Pooch to Reduce Stress. There is extensive medical research that indicates canine companionship can have a measurable effect on stress reduction in humans. The American Heart Association conducted a study of people with high blood pressure. Their findings concluded that patients with pets were able to keep their blood pressure lower during times of stress that those who did not have pets in their lives.
- Pain Relief Is Only a Pet Away. Take it from Marty Becker, also known as “America’s Veterinarian.” The author of 22 best-selling books, Dr. Becker is a passionate and vocal advocate for the extraordinary benefits of the animal-human bond. One of those benefits is a pet’s ability to reduce pain in his human. For those with chronic pain, Dr. Becker references studies that indicate people with pets require up to 50% less medication to manage their pain than those who don’t have pets.
- Get Those Numbers Down. According to the Centers for Disease Control pet owners also benefit from lower cholesterol. But the benefits don’t stop there. Having a pet as a member of your family also helps to lower your triglyceride levels, keeping your heart both healthy and happy!
- Banishing the Blues. Depression is another potentially debilitating condition that can be helped by owning a pet. Therapists often recommend pets for people battling depression. The act of caring for a creature totally dependent on their human gives a patient motivation to act outside their disease to care for their pet. The unconditional love given from pet to her human can literally be the best medicine for depression.
While we think about – and thank – our animal companions for all they give us, it’s also a great time to reflect on how we can give back to them. One way to do this is to volunteer at your local animal shelter.
There are so many abandoned animals looking for their forever homes, and animal shelters are overwhelmed with the job of caring for, and often rehabilitating, these innocent creatures that simply want to find a family to love.
Volunteering at an animal shelter will help these animals in ways both small and profound, but there are also great benefits for the humans who give their time to care for shelter animals. Here are six ways volunteering at your local shelter will help you, while you care for animals in dire need:
- Volunteer for Your Health. Volunteering at an animal shelter can be very physical, there are cages to clean, bedding to wash, food to lift and stack and lots of animals that need exercise. The physical benefits of this kind of regular exercise are great. But the mental benefits of giving and receiving love and joy from a grateful and lonely animal are also beyond measure.
- Volunteer for Your Community. Spending time at your local animal shelter or rescue center is a great way to get to know your community and your neighbors. You will meet people you might otherwise never have encountered and discover places in your area that never knew existed.
- Volunteer to Support a Mission. The professionals and technicians who staff animal shelters and rescue centers are not in it for the money or the glory. Often it is the work of dedicated and passionate volunteers that allow these people to continue their important work. Giving your time to support their efforts can help keep their doors open and their spirits high.
- Volunteer to Make New Friends. Whether you’re new to your area or have been a life-long resident, you’ll meet the nicest people when you volunteer at an animal shelter. Sharing common goals and passions is a great way to start a friendship. Working together toward a common goal can create relationships that last a lifetime.
- Volunteer to Learn. Maybe you’re thinking of a career change. Does becoming a veterinarian or a vet tech sound like the perfect career for you? Have you always dreamed of opening a kennel? Have you always been a dog person but are now curious about the charms of owning a cat? Volunteering at your local shelter can teach you about these things and so much more, with hands-on experience.
- Volunteer to Change Lives. Dogs’ lives, cats’ lives, people’s lives – they are all enriched by the work of dedicated shelter volunteers. A walk and a cuddle for a dog that is frightened and lonely can change his day, and maybe his life. The joy of a family that is ready to give an elder cat her forever home – how lucky would a volunteer be to witness scenes like that?
Volunteering at an animal shelter does indeed change lives – both animal and human – for the better. The life you change may just be your own!
Planet Dog Foundation – Supporting Dogs Helping People in Need
Founded in 1997, Planet Dog is a company based in Portland, Maine that manufactures dog toys and dog accessories, dedicated to bringing people and dogs together for mutual support. In addition to their commitment to promoting the relationship between dogs and their people with their products, Planet Dog is also known for their socially responsible, values-based business philosophy.
These values include giving back to their community and to the groups that share their passion and dedication. In that spirit, Planet Dog established the Planet Dog Foundation, a national grant program whose mission is “…to promote and celebrate programs in which dogs serve and support their best friends.” Two percent of all Planet Dog’s sales goes to finance the grant budget. These dollars fund training, placement and support of working dog programs across the country.
Guide dogs, service dogs, hearing dogs, medical alert dogs, therapy dogs, prison-pet partnerships – the list of grantee organizations is long and varied, but with one uniting philosophy. Each organization strives to connect service dogs with humans that will most benefit from that connection. To date, Planet Dog Foundation has given more than $1 million to these deserving, dedicated organizations.
The list of PDF grantees is long and varied. Some of these organizations rely on volunteers to accomplish their important work. You can check to see if there are volunteer opportunities near you. Or you can explore other pet volunteering options at The Humane Society of the United States.
Remember, when you volunteer to help a pet, you’ll definitely get as much as you give. And maybe even more.
Feeding your pet a healthy diet full of nutritious ingredients is an important way to show a pet how much you care. Maintaining your pet’s ideal weight by paying careful attention to what she eats is one more way to add to the quality and quantity of your pet’s years. Here are two recipes for treats you can make for a healthier, happier canine companion.
We also have a great Pinterest Board with more pet-approved recipes, and some of our favorite pictures of
“The World’s Best Pets.”
Candace Karu reports on all there is to discover and love about food and farming as well as communicating Cabot’s mission to support community, volunteerism, and sustainability. Whether online, on air, or in person, her job is to amplify the passion and commitment of the 1200 farm families who own Cabot. When Candace is not representing Cabot, she lives, cooks, and works out in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.