Pets for Your Health: Stronger Immunity

 

Pets are good for your well-being, including your immunity.

For example, multiple studies have shown that pets reduce stress and depression. By reducing stress and depression, pets bolster our immune systems, keeping us healthier.

Growing up with pets also strengthens our immunity, lessening our risk for allergies and asthma. It used to be thought that having pets increased our chances of developing allergies. According to a growing number of studies, the opposite is true.

depositphotos_25462885_original

Allergies are hypersensitive disorders, recognizing normally harmless substances as threats. Certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils are activated, resulting in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable (such as red eyes, itchiness, runny nose, eczema, and hives) to dangerous (anaphylaxis).

By being around cats, dogs, or even farm animals while young, our immune systems are exposed early to potential allergens and strengthened.

In one study, infants living in a home with dogs were less likely to develop pet allergies: 19% versus 33%. The babies also had higher levels of some immune system chemicals, and they were less likely to have eczema, a common skin allergy condition.

An Irish proverb says, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” Add in a playful pup or a cuddly kitten, and the formula is complete.

 

Advertisements

Pets for Your Health: Heart

 

Pets are good for your heart.

Sure, they fill your heart with love.  But they also do your heart good.

For one, studies repeatedly show that pets reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure, all which contribute to heart disease. Less stress and lower blood pressure = less risk of developing heart disease. For example, a study shows that male pet owners have less signs of heart disease (such as lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels) than men without pets.

Pets also encourage more physical activity, such as dog walking. According to one study, dog owners are more likely to walk and be active than non-dog owners. They were 54 percent more likely to engage in the recommended level of physical activity. People who are active are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

Dog and owner walking

For heart attack patients, those with pets survive longer than those patients without pets. According to the American Heart Association, pet ownership is likely associated with reduced heart disease risk factors and with increased survival among patients.

So, take heart in the good news, knowing that having a pet is good for you. After all, your pet has your well-being at heart.

“Blue Bear and Snow Toad:” Available and Garnering Reviews

Blank book cover vector template isolated on white background.In September, the story of  “Blue Bear and Snow Toad” was officially published in a beautiful, hardcover glossy children’s book, just in time for the holidays.

What a thrill to finally have it in hand!

In the midst of selling my home, however, I neglected to shout out to the world how thrilled I was to have this beloved story, conceived over a decade ago, sitting on my shelf and available from Amazon.

My wintery tale is garnering wonderful reviews from readers. Here are a few highlights.

“…It’s a wonderful way to take that end of day energy your toddler or young child may have and channel it into a meaningful bed time story…”   -Myers3203

“…whimsical illustrations capture their emotions as they endure the cold so they can experience the winter wonderland…”   -Bobbie Onas

pgs4_5

“…a captivating story that the kids want to read over and over again…”   -Charles Winston III

“…gather the little ones, grab a warm throw, and snuggle together to read this treasure of a story!”   -Emmaree Josephson

It recently received its first professional review from Kirkus, the source for librarians!

“charming picture book”

“a delightful ode to the season”

“the rhymes scan beautifully”

“an excellent choice for lap readers at bedtime”

*swooning*

As to “debut writer,” probably because this book is the first one in their system. That’s my theory.

Kirkus review

How Do We Appreciate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

In the month marked for expressing gratitude, I’m going with the spirit of Thanksgiving, minimizing my usual peevishness. After all, we are blessed to share our lives with our animal companions and all they share with us.

So, I offer a humble litany of thanks for…

…Dogs who teach us joy in all that is encountered. From our wagging friends, we learn the need for jaunts outdoors and that water is the best drink of all. Dogs, great and small, model what it is to be family and a good friend: loyal, loving, quick to forgive, and thrilled to see a beloved every time they walk through the door.

…Our feline friends who instruct us in the art of stretching, often overlooked despite our stressful lives. More introverted than dogs, cats teach us to set aside a space and the time for solitary quiet reflection. With a purr, they teach the value of expressing thanks for simple pleasures in life. And don’t forget the lessons gleaned from a quick cat nap to revitalize for the rest of the day.

…Birds who bring a splash of color to our lives. Ever curious with a keen intelligence, they teach us the ongoing value of taking a perpetual interest in the world around. They also teach us to eat vegetables and fruit.

…Fish who convey tranquility, mesmerizing us with the beauty found in their aquatic realm. While birds of a feather flock together, fish teach us acceptance of diversity found in their microcosmic communities reflective of their natural homes.

…Horses who teach us the value of working together, creating a ballet achieved moving as one. They show us the freedom to be found in a wild frolic and the wisdom of warming down. Horses teach the value of trust earned, for these large-eyed creatures are less quick to friendship than dogs. You know you’ve done well to have the love of a horse.

…Long-toothed rabbits, mice, and rats (and fellow rodentia) who teach the need for community. They know the warmth of the family nest, and contentment of snuggling together and preening one another. They make the most of small places and know the value of frugality.

…Snakes, lizards, and turtles who teach patience, keeping an eye on long-term goals. Reptiles teach the value of finding a sunny spot to bask in warmth. They teach acceptance of a slow pace and meditating on all that is observed.

This list of animals is incomplete, let alone the listing of their many virtues or the benefits we glean by proximity. This summary only begins to illustrate why we should give thanks for their tolerance and acceptance of us.

In return, they ask for gentle handling, water, food, and a home appropriate to their n needs. They give much with expectation of little. Shame on the humans who can’t provide in kind (couldn’t help myself with one little finger wag), and a big thank you to those who appreciate the blessings and lessons bestowed on us by the finned, feathered, scaled, and furred.

*****

picm_nov2013

First published in Pets in the City Magazine, November 2013

Pets for Your Health: Peace and Calm

 

Pets are good for your well-being. For example, multiple studies have shown that pets reduce stress and depression.

Depositphotos_41181695_original.jpg

When we are stressed, our bodies produce more harmful hormones, such as cortisol and norepinephrine. These lower our immunity, making us more susceptible to illness and disease. By reducing stress and depression, pets thus bolster our immune systems, keeping us healthier.

Stress also raises our blood pressure. Again, studies show that pets lower blood pressure readings. In one study, people in stressful situations who also had pets had better blood pressure readings than people without pets.

Interactions with our pets also increase “good” hormones like serotonin and dopamine that have calming effects and are associated with happiness.

Remember the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor a way”? While no one would argue the benefits of fiber, the doctor should add pets to the prescription.