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Trade in Your Lipitor for a Labrador

Could your dog be a furry, 4-legged life support system disguised as a pet? Could you trade in your Lipitor for Labrador, your Prozac for a Poodle or your Benicar for a Beagle?

WAYS PETS CAN IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH

An apple a day may or may not actually keep the doctor away, but what about an animal a day? Could your dog be a furry, 4-legged life support system disguised as a pet?  Could you trade in your Lipitor for Labrador, your Prozac for a Poodle or your Benicar for a Beagle?

When it comes to pet ownership, there are a number of proven health benefits for people, including physical, mental and emotional improvements, from enhancing social skills to decreasing a person's risk of heart attack.

Keep Your Chin Up

Pets are a great way to beat the blues. Not only are they known to offer unconditional love, but they may also give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those feeling down in the dumps. Pets also combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, which can boost your overall mood and even bring you feelings of joy and happiness. This is particularly apparent among the sick and elderly. 

Get a Move On

Need a little motivation in the exercise department? Dogs can act as the perfect personal trainer, if only because most of them need to be walked several times a day.  As long as you're the one holding the leash, you'll reap the rewards, which can include losing -- or at least maintaining -- weight.

Stay Heart Healthy

Pet owners would agree that a pet can fill your heart with love. So maybe it's only fitting that the presence of a pet can help improve the overall health of that organ, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets.  Findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels -- all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack down the road.  These benefits are thought to be connected with pets' tendency to help reduce or at least control their owners' overall stress levels.

Meet and Greet

One of the fringe benefits of taking on the responsibility of pet ownership is that animals can be an instant icebreaker, whether they're with you or you're just using them as a topic of conversation. When people sometimes have a hard time getting to know each other, pets can be the common denominator that helps them connect and it can especially help people ease out of social isolation or shyness.  And let’s not forget, dogs are great for making love connections. Forget Internet matchmaking -- a dog is a natural conversation starter.

Breathe Easier

Having a pet in the home can actually lower a child's likelihood of developing related allergies or asthma by as much as 33 percent. In fact, research -- as published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology -- shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall. While this might not mean much for adults who are already struggling with longstanding allergies, it is good news for families in which this isn't already an established issue.

In general, pets can foster a positive attitude, a sense of well-being and purpose, relief from stress and depression. They can have a positive effect on the elderly, the young, the ill, work-aholics, home-makers, students, caregivers, children with autism, adults with Alzheimer – I guess you could say pets can improve everyone’s life.

Just more great reasons to adopt a pet!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim February 12, 2013 at 01:05 PM
I agree with all of the above. But many people that live in Associations do not allow dogs. For what reason I have no idea ? Plus have you seen how much it is taking your dog to the Vet today.

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