Zooeyia: Doctors Outline the Health Benefits of Companion Animals

Here’s a good word of the day for animal lovers: “zooeyia”—a combination of the Greek words for animal and health.  It describes the human health benefits of companion animals.  And there are a lot of them!

An article for physicians in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine lists the many physical and emotional health benefits of living with companion animals.

Here are some key ways that the presence of pets in our lives can help us:

  • Pets reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation by providing us with companionship, attachment, and opportunities for social connection.
  • Having pets in the home can reduce harmful health behaviors like smoking because we don’t want to put our pets at risk.
  • Walking dogs and playing with pets provides people with daily opportunities to increase their amount of exercise and physical activity.
  • The presence of a companion animal can decrease stress and blood pressure. Pets can also reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and increase our sense of self-worth.

The article notes that physicians should educate pet-owning patients about the possible risks of animals, such as the transmission of zoonotic diseases, but stresses that the health benefits outweigh the risks.

Does your doctor ask you about your pets?  According to the authors, talking to patients about their animals is a great opportunity for doctors to improve the quality of patient care!

 

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Pet Ownership Trends for 2019

What will the hottest pet trends be in 2019?  The Michelson Found Animals Foundation surveyed 1,000 dog and cat owners and compiled a list of pet trends to watch in the coming year.  Here are the highlights:

Pet-related technology will play a greater role in the daily lives of our pets.  What are the most popular pet tech items?

  • Pet health and nutrition apps
  • Pet servicing apps (pet sitting, dog walking, etc.)
  • Pet monitoring cameras
  • Smart pet toys

Alternative therapies for pets are on the rise.  What types of treatments are our pets receiving?

  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • CBD oil (aka cannabidiol oil, a non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant)

Pet food trends will continue to mirror human food trends.  Here’s what we’re feeding our pets:

  • Special diets for health and fitness
  • Organic pet food
  • Protein-rich diets
  • Pet food subscription services

 

 

The Signals Dogs Use to Tell Us What They Want

A study published in the journal Animal Cognition has identified multiple “signals” dogs use to indicate when they want our attention.

Signals are defined as requests made with an object and/or a part of the body.  They also need to be directed at an individual and repeated.

After studying dozens of potential canine signals, the researchers identified 19 that clearly indicated specific requests.  The most common were related to going outside, getting food, drink or a toy, and wanting to be scratched.

Common signals include pawing at something (or someone), jumping up, and turning the head between a person and a desired object.  Many dogs will also pick their toys up and toss them a short distance or give a gentle “chomp” on a person’s arm.

How does your best friend get your attention?!

You can read the full article HERE and watch a brief video on the study from National Geographic here:

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Noise-Cancelling Kennel a New Option for Sensitive Pets

Is your pet upset by loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms?  There will soon be a new high-tech option to consider in addition to tranquilizers and calming coats…

The Ford Motor Company has taken its noise-cancelling technology to the dogs!  Ford has developed a prototype kennel that is designed to provide your pet with a quiet haven when things get a little too loud.

According to an article in The Verge, the kennel uses a combination of noise-cancelling technology, cork, and an automatic door.

In cars, noise-cancelling technology works by picking up sounds like engine noise, and then uses speakers to play sounds in the opposite frequency to cancel them out.

The article notes that because dogs have much more sensitive hearing than humans, developing an effective kennel is a challenge.

While the prototype is not available for sale yet, you can watch a video about the kennel now!

 

“Cute Aggression” — Why We Want to Squeeze Adorable Baby Animals

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by a cute baby animal that you wanted to squeeze it or take a pretend bite out of it?  Don’t worry you’re not weird…turns out there’s a scientific explanation for this feeling.  It’s called cute aggression!

A study published in the journal Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience sheds some new light on how our brains are triggered by the sight of cute animals.

A group of people were shown images of animals, ranging from adults to babies, and the researchers measured their brain activity and verbal responses.

The results?  No surprise…the cuter the animal (big eyes, round face, etc.) the stronger the cute aggression response!  Subjects showed more brain activity and expressed a desire to squish or eat the baby animal in the picture.

According to an article on the study written for the website Gizmodo, not everyone has the cute aggression response when they see baby animals.  The lead researcher estimates that between 25 to 30% of people don’t have it, but most of us do.

Why do so many people experience cute aggression?  Scientists theorize that it’s our way of processing overwhelming positive emotions.  The sight of a baby animal triggers our caregiving response.  Cuter or more infantile looking animals evoke stronger caretaking feelings than older looking animals.