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Adopting our dog, Wes, was one of the best things my husband and I could have done, both for us and for him. We saved Wes’ life, and he has made ours better and healthier. Research has shown that owning a dog can benefit the owner’s health. Wes is an Australian cattle dog, and he needs a lot of activity. As with most dogs, a daily walk is a must. This extra incentive to get walking every day can have a positive impact on your heart health. Your furry buddy will thank you for making the extra time and effort for him or her as well!

WesOwning and caring for a dog can also have beneficial effects on your mental health by gaining a sense of meaning and companionship from your dog. The bond you can build with your dog is such a special one. I remember when we first brought Wes home, he was very timid and shy. As a result, he was not much for being pet or cuddling with his new parents. We all took our time, and he came to trust us. He is now the most loyal pet either myself or my husband have ever known. He loves to be spoiled, and he cuddles up with us on the couch or in bed regularly now. Blood pressure measurements have been shown to decrease while petting a dog, which can be a nice stress reliever. There’s nothing better than coming home to a furry “smile” and a quickly wagging tail at the door at the end of a long day.

If you can afford to care for one, I highly recommend rescuing your next best friend. There are many sweet and loyal dogs in shelters all across the state just waiting to be adopted into a loving “fur-ever” home. They can help you develop some healthy habits along the way, and you will gain an unconditionally loving best buddy!

Written By: Amy Meehan, MPH, Healthy People Program Specialist

Reviewed By: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Perry County

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3351901/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/having-a-dog-can-help-your-heart–literally

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/a-dog-could-be-your-hearts-best-friend-201305226291

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TomPuppy2

My brother-in-law and sister had to put their beloved dog to sleep a few months ago. Needless to say, this was a sad time for them. Tom (my brother-in-law) recently shared an observation about his weight during this time. When . they had to put their dog, Chippy to sleep, his average weight was 199. He noticed a weight gain of 9-10 pounds after this time. Since they brought home a new puppy, Chummy, his weight has dropped by 5 pounds!

What does this have to do with your health? According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet – a dog, in particular, can be good for your heart health.  This article supports the findings that my brother-in-law recently shared with me. The CDC also reports that having a pet can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides levels and decrease your feelings of loneliness.

These factors may contribute to his recent weight loss:

  • Taking a walk at least twice a day with Chummy
  • Enjoying the social interaction with the new puppy
  • Spending time with the puppy which makes it easier to avoid snacking

If you can’t have or don’t want a pet, what can you do to improve your heart health? Go back to the basics:

Enjoy physical activity most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. It is fine to break up the 30 minutes into three 10-minute sessions. Adults should aim for 150 minutes per week.

Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. Enjoy a wide variety of nutrient rich veggies & fruits. Be creative with the way you add them to your day. Start the day with a fruit or veggie for breakfast (think smoothie, veggies added to eggs, or a piece of fresh fruit).

Need more help? Visit MyPlate’s SuperTracker to customize your food and activity plan. It is free and easy and will help you on your wellness journey.

While you are enjoying the health benefits from you new (or old) pet, don’t forget basic cleanliness habits to keep you and your family from becoming ill. One reminder from CDC is to wash your hands after handling your pet, pet food or treats or if you pick up their stools.  Not sure how to wash your hands? Here are the basics on handwashing from CDC:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Do you need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them

Are these good reasons to get a pet? Yes! Remember that if you are ready for a new furry family member, it just might help your health!

Sources:

http://heartinsight.heart.org/Fall-2017/Is-Owning-a-Pet-Good-for-You/

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/dogs.html

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/resources/pet-food-tips_8x11_508.pdf

https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/myplan.aspx

Writer: Michelle Treber, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

 

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