Tag Archives: dog ownership

Health benefits of owning a dog (video version)

Throughout this blog, you’ll find articles about research involving dogs.  Some of these articles can be quite lengthy, so I was pleased when Time published this short video – all of the key points about the health benefits of owning a dog in one place.

If you’re really busy, or simply not interested in reading the full research, this video is for you!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

What a veterinarian and a dog massage therapist have in common

I came across an article recently which was a sort of a “Vets Tell You What They Really Think” piece.  It listed 50 things that the veterinarian would love to say, but can’t, because it would be either too forward or too unprofessional (or both).

One of these really stood out for me:

“Here’s a pet peeve: owners who don’t want to pay for diagnostic tests but then cop an attitude because you don’t know what’s wrong with the animal. Since you wouldn’t let me do the blood work or X-rays, how the heck do you expect me to know?”A vet in South Carolina.

I’m in total agreement with this vet.  If we don’t have a diagnosis how are we able to help?

Believe it or not, I get contacted fairly regularly from people who want me to come and work on their dog because they don’t want to pay for x-rays or other tests.  In such cases, I tell them politely that I need a diagnosis to be able to confidently work with their animal.  The risk is too high that, for example, if the dog has spinal injury I can make it worse rather than better.

Costs for veterinary care can be high, but you pay for the skills and the tools that are available to a veterinarian.  The vet is your dog’s equivalent of the Family Doctor/General Practitioner and sometimes the Emergency Room Doctor combined.  Your dog needs them!

dog and vet

There are times I’ve been caught.  Such as the case where the owners said x-rays had been taken and we worked for quite a few weeks on the dog only to suffer setbacks.  The owners were getting frustrated.   I suggested other things within my scope of practice and I recommended they go back to the vet.

That’s when I found out that the owner had only allowed the vet to take a single x-ray to save money.  The x-ray didn’t reveal anything in the lower spine and so the vet  assumed a partial tear of the cruciate based solely on symptoms.  And that’s the diagnosis I was working with, too.

When the owners returned to the vet, they were persuaded to do more scans and that’s when the problem (and a totally different diagnosis) was determined.

In the end, these owners probably spent more money than they saved.  And  their dog walked around with an injury that was even more difficult to address.

My advice to owners is to only bring a dog into your life when you are confident that you can pay for their care (and that’s means more than just vaccinations, food and flea treatments).  And if you have concerns about your ability to pay for injuries and illness – get pet insurance.  Some policies even cover costs of complementary care such as dog massage when these treatments are recommended by your vet.

I know that some owners like the idea of setting aside money regularly; my concern is that you would have to be setting fairly large amounts aside regularly for a bank balance with compounding interest to reach into the thousands.  And that’s what some of my clients face when surgeries and special procedures are needed.

Your vet is an essential part of your health care team.  We all need a solid diagnosis to help your dog feel better.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Doctors believe in the health benefits of pet ownership

DogDoctor

The Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation has released the findings of a survey revealing the views of the family physician (also known as the GP) on the benefits of pets to health.

An online panel survey of 1,000 family doctors and general practitioners explored the doctors’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior regarding the human health benefits of pets.  The 28-question survey was conducted in August 2014 with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.   The physicians in the survey had a median of 18 years in professional practice.

Key findings included:

  • 69% of doctors have worked with animals in a hospital, medical center or medical practice to assist patient treatment
  • 88% believe that interaction with pets improves a patient’s physical condition
  • 97% believe that interaction with pets improves mental health condition
  • 78% found that interaction with animals helped to improve the relationships of patients with staff
  • 97% of doctors reported that they believe there were health benefits resulting from pet ownership
  • 75% of doctors said they saw health improve in one or more patients as a result of pet ownership

The survey also revealed that while 69% of doctors at least occasionally discussed the health benefits of pets with patients, 56% identified ‘time constraints’ as the largest barrier to having these discussions.

“The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative funds research on the evidence-based health benefits on human-animal interaction, and this survey demonstrates that we are on the right track” said HABRI Executive Director Steven Feldman.

“HABRI hopes that this survey will help break down the barriers and get more doctors and their patients talking about the important, scientifically-validated health benefits of pets.”

Source:  HABRI media release

Pope Francis, with respect, you’ve got it wrong

I was warming up to Pope Francis and his papacy until last week.  Vatican Radio reported that fifteen couples, with between 25 and 60 years’ experience in marriage, were in attendance to hear the Pope decree that part of their duties were to abide by fruitfulness – that is to have children.  He said:

“These marriages, in which the spouses do not want children, in which the spouses want to remain without fertility. This culture of well-being from ten years ago convinced us: ‘It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free…it might be better – more comfortable – to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or is this not? Have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness. It is not fruitful, it does not do what Jesus does with his Church: He makes His Church fruitful.”

Pope Francis

Pope Francis seemed to be warming to the role of dogs in our lives with the blessing last year of a guide dog owned by a visually-impaired radio journalist…

Photo by:  ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

…and he welcomed the dog of a homeless man into his birthday celebrations.

But this latest directive is a step backwards.  I think in a world that is overpopulated by humans, this attitude is misguided.  There are many people (some with, and some without, children) who devote their lives to the care of God’s creatures.  We should not pass judgment on their life choices.

 

Dogs benefit children with autism

A University of Missouri researcher has studied dog ownership decisions in families of children with autism and found that parents report a range of benefits of dog ownership including companionship, stress relief and opportunities for their children to learn responsibility.

Photo credit: Noël Zia Lee, Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Noël Zia Lee, Wikimedia Commons

‘Children with autism spectrum disorders often struggle with interacting with others, which can make it difficult for them to form friendships,’ said Gretchen Carlisle, the study’s author. ‘Children with autism may especially benefit from interacting with dogs, which can provide unconditional, nonjudgmental love and companionship to the children.’

Carlisle interviewed 70 parents of children with autism.  Nearly two-thirds of the parents in the study owned dogs, and of those parents, 94 percent reported their children with autism were bonded to their dogs. Even in families without dogs, 70 percent of parents said their children with autism liked dogs.

‘Bringing a dog into any family is a big step, but for families of children with autism, getting a dog should be a decision that’s taken very seriously.  If a child with autism is sensitive to loud noises, choosing a dog that is likely to bark will not provide the best match for the child and the family. If the child has touch sensitivities, perhaps a dog with a softer coat, such as a poodle, would be better than a dog with a wiry or rough coat, such as a terrier.’

The study, “Pet Dog Ownership Decisions for Parents of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder,” was published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing earlier this year.

Source:  University of Missouri media release

For more about the benefits of dogs for people with autism, read my post Dogs are a ‘social lubricant’ in helping people with autism

Picking up the scent on the road to bliss

As a woman with a long history of enjoying life with canine company, I found this article, by Tatjana Soli, particularly good.

What do you think?

It’s a sunny day at the (rented) White House

The White House’s latest edition, Sunny, appears to be settling in well as the nation’s Second Dog (the title of First Dog belongs to Bo).

Official White House photo by Pete Souza, taken 19 August 2013

Official White House photo by Pete Souza, taken 19 August 2013

When interviewed about the new addition, President Obama said that he and his wife are seeing less of their daughters now that they are growing up with active lives of their own.  “I think there is an element for Michelle and me of, you know, we see what’s coming and we need to make sure that we got somebody who greets us at the door when we get home.”

Sunny, who is a year old, is a Portuguese water dog like Bo and will be a companion for the First Dog, who is also feeling the need for company since Malia (15) and Sasha (12) are busier.  President Obama said, “Bo was getting a little down in the dumps inside the house.”

But what I really liked about the interview, and this will resonate with Christchurch dog owners who are really suffering from high rentals and pet bonds (see A mixed news week for dogs in Christchurch), was President Obama’s admission that Sunny had had a few accidents.

“We live in rental housing. We didn’t have to put down a deposit, but we are making sure that it gets cleaned up for the next occupant.”

Congratulations to the Obamas for becoming another well-adjusted multiple dog household!

(And in case you missed it, here’s the official White House video announcing Sunny’s arrival)

Benefits of having a dog in your life

Daisy portrait

Some of the great benefits of owning a dog are:

  1. Reduction of stress
  2. They make you exercise
  3. They provide unconditional love
  4. And on top of this, they boost self esteem (even after a bad day at work, they love you!)
  5. When life is hard, they teach you the value of play
  6. Because they love you, they provide safety & security
  7. They provide a sense of belonging – you’re packmates!
  8. On top of everything, the act of petting a dog is proven to lower blood pressure and heart rate

Enjoy your weekend.  Have you hugged your dog today?

Dogs reduce your risk of heart disease

The American Heart Association has released a scientific statement citing the link between pet ownership and reduced risk of heart disease.

The statement is published online in the association’s journal Circulation.

“Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease” said Glenn N. Levine, M.D., professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and chair of the committee that wrote the statement after reviewing previous studies of the influence of pets.

Research cited to support that statement includes:

  • Pet ownership is probably associated with a reduction in heart disease risk factors and increased survival among patients.  “It may be simply that healthier people are the ones that have pets, not that having a pet actually leads to or causes reduction in cardiovascular risk,” Levine said. (Disclaimer:  These studies aren’t definitive and do not necessarily prove that owning a pet directly causes a reduction in heart disease risk.)
  • Dog ownership in particular may help reduce cardiovascular risk. People with dogs may engage in more physical activity because they walk them. In a study of more than 5,200 adults, dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.
  • Owning pets may be associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a lower incidence of obesity.
  • Pets can have a positive effect on the body’s reactions to stress.

“In essence, data suggest that there probably is an association between pet ownership and decreased cardiovascular risk,” Levine said. “What’s less clear is whether the act of adopting or acquiring a pet could lead to a reduction in cardiovascular risk in those with pre-existing disease. Further research, including better quality studies, is needed to more definitively answer this question.”

Even with a likely link, people shouldn’t adopt, rescue or buy a pet solely to reduce cardiovascular risk, Levine said.

Statement co-writers are: Karen Allen, Ph.D.; Lynne T. Braun, Ph.D., C.N.P.; Hayley E. Christian, Ph.D.; Erika Friedmann, Ph.D.; Kathryn A. Taubert, Ph.D.; Sue Ann Thomas, R.N., Ph.D.; Deborah L. Wells, Ph.D.; and Richard A. Lange, M.D., M.B.A.

Source:  American Heart Association media statement

Of dogs, house dust and asthma…

This is a tale of how owning a dog can help protect your child from asthma.  Strange, but true.

Researcher Dr Kei Fujimura used mice to test the impact of house dust from homes where a dog lived and from those that didn’t.  She found (and her study was presented at a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology) that the dust from households with dogs seemed to have a beneficial effect.

Mice who were fed dust from these households developed an immune response to RSV(respiratory syncytial virus).  Infants who contract this virus have a marked increase in their risk of developing asthma.  RSV affects 90% of children worldwide.  That makes this study significant.

Dr Fujimura says these results support the hypothesis that exposure to animals in early childhood stimulates the immune system to resist the development of asthma and other allergies.

Another reason to introduce your children to the wonders of dog ownership at an early age!

Source:  Discovery News