Pets are a Powerful Prescription for Healthier, Happier Lives: Starting with Health Benefits for Babies!

I saw a bumper sticker in the shape of a dog’s head that read: “Wag more –Bark less.” Great advice but it seems man’s best friend has a lot of lessons to teach us which can make us healthier and happier. In one of the hottest videos online, canine crawling coach, Buddy, helps his family’s baby learn how to get moving. Mom and Buddy’s owner, Valerie Stevens-Scott posted the video on YouTube with the caption: “Bear Bear hasn’t gotten the hang of crawling, so Buddy decided to show her how it’s done.”

This little baby girl just hasn’t figured out how to crawl on her own, so her loyal terrier pal, Buddy, decides to give baby Allie multiple demonstrations and a helping paw. As you can see in the video, Buddy is a good teacher and Allie soon is crawling.

Crawling help and companionship are not the only benefit dogs may offer to babies. Youngsters with pets may have added protection against allergies. Researchers found children under the age of 1 who had two or more dogs or cats as family pets saw a reduction in allergy development by the time they were 6 or 7. Additional medical research produced similar results, finding children with early cat exposure showed reduced the development of allergies later in life.

Pet ownership continues to provide health benefits as children move from toddling to adulthood. Youngsters and adults taking their dog out for a walk get more than heart smart exercise. Researchers and smart parents believe it may benefit social skills in an era of text messages and online chats. New research indicates walking with a dog leads to more conversations with neighbors, other dog owners, and helps people of all ages stay socially connected.

A 2014 study in the Journal Applied Developmental Science found that young adults with a strong attachment to cats and dogs also reported feeling more connected to their relationships and communities. And studies have shown those that have a pet live more fulfilled and busy social life live longer, happier lives.

The medical community believes companion animals are a good prescription in many cases. Pets are being used to help our nation’s war veterans heal from post-traumatic stress disorder. Our pets innately know when we need them most, which gives us a feeling of belonging and a self-esteem boost. Researchers in a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that pet owners had hearts that adapted better to stressful situations than non-pet owners. The American Heart Association cites a number of studies that found pet ownership may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Some data even indicates that pets help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and that owners with heart issues are more likely to survive heart attacks.

541030_10200807370730847_356137719_nI believe my two Maltese dogs, adopted from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, are powerful and playful prescriptions against loneliness. The APA is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing people and pets together, advancing humane education and creating programs beneficial to the human-animal bond. They offer many services and programs for all ages. In fact, kids of all ages and community groups can take a guided tour of the APA and get a health boost by petting some of the awesome animals available for adoption. Check them out at http://www.apamo.org

How do you think your pets help you? I would like to know, please leave a comment with stories about your furry friends.
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