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Palm Coast Friday, Sep. 11, 2015 4 years ago

Feeling stressed? Pet a dog or cat

Having a pet can lower blood pressure, increase immunity and help us make friends.
by: Jacque Estes Community Editor

Your day has been stressful. The person in front of you at the grocery store had a cart-full of items in the 10 items or less line; you were behind a car doing 10 miles under the speed limit while a monster truck was on your bumper trying to do 10 miles over the speed limit. You are at your wits end until you step in the house and are greeted by the one individual always happy to see you – your dog – and everything immediately gets a little better.

The best medicine for stress and high blood pressure are our pets. I mention dogs, because they are the ones usually anxiously waiting for us, but cats, birds and even fish can provide therapeutic care just by being part of our lives.

Medical studies back this up and many assisted living homes, hospice and hospitals are shedding (pardon the pun) the notion that pets are too dirty to visit their facilities. The emotional benefits for their patients and residents far outweigh a little hair on the carpet.

Lonely?  New in town? Walk your dog through a park. People are more likely to greet those with dogs and even stop to chat. Pets are conversation starters and probably a better way to get a date than other methods. Plus, regular walks are good for your overall health.

When the children have grown and moved on to their own lives it’s the pets that stay with us and keep us company. People are just as likely to have photos of their pets on their cell phones as they do the grandchildren.

For many years the medical community felt that homes with pets would increase the chance of family members having allergies. This thinking has shifted and studies are beginning to show that children who grown up with animals have a reduced risk of allergies and asthma.

Pets are a personal preference. Well-meaning friends and relative may want to give you a pet. While that’s thoughtful, it is important to find the pet that is right for you, whether it curls up in your lap, walks with you, talks or sings to you, or swims gracefully in a tank.

Pets are a serious commitment. The benefits are great but they do require care. Perhaps you are not sure if you are a pet person, or what type of pet would best suit your lifestyle. A great way to try out pet ownership is to offer to pet sit for a friend. In most cases I bet it will have you looking for a new roommate who will love you in good times and bad and make you feel better.

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