Study Finds Dog Ownership Significantly Improves the Health of Seniors

The correlation between pet ownership and our mental and physical well-being has been well-documented.  Sharing our lives with dogs, cats, and other companion animals makes us happy, and has health benefits like lowering stress and blood pressure.  But owning a dog and taking your best friend outside for regular walks and play sessions can be particularly beneficial for sedentary older adults.

A study published in the journal BMC Public Health examined the physical activity of seniors living in a retirement community, and compared the activity levels of dog owners versus non-dog owners.  43 pairs of dog owners and non-dog owners were studied, using both activity monitoring devices and detailed questionnaires.

The results?  The dog owners demonstrated a significantly greater amount of time engaging in physical activity than those seniors who did not have dogs.  They spent an average of 22 additional minutes per day walking.  Measured in steps, they walked around 2760 more steps per day than the non-dog owners.  The walking was of a moderate intensity.  The dog owners also had fewer “sitting events” than the more sedentary non-dog owners.

The happy conclusion?  In addition to the many mental health benefits of dog ownership, it can be an important way to incorporate regular, healthy activity into the lives of seniors.

 

Clear the Shelters Day is Saturday, August 19th!

It’s coming…the annual event known as Clear the Shelters Day is happening this Saturday, August 19th at animal shelters around the U.S.  Clear the Shelters is an event sponsored by local NBC and Telemundo television stations around the country to encourage shelter pet adoptions.  Many shelters will waive adoption fees on Saturday, so it’s the perfect time to open your heart to a shelter pet in need of a loving forever home.

Check out this map on the Clear the Shelters website to find a participating shelter in your community.  And here’s a cute video from sponsor VIP Pet Care to get you in the mood!

 

How to Make a Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit

Few regions of the U.S. are free from the risk of natural disasters like wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes.  Even if you live in an area that is relatively safe from weather-related disasters, other emergencies (such as a house fire) can force you to quickly evacuate your home unexpectedly.

If you have dogs, cats, or other pets it’s important to make sure that you are prepared to care for your pets in an emergency.  Experts recommend putting together a pet emergency preparedness kit so that you and your pets are ready for an emergency evacuation.  What exactly should you put in your pet emergency kit?  The Humane Society of the United States has compiled a handy checklist.  Here’s a brief rundown, you can check out their website for more details.

Essentials

  • Food and bottled water for at least 5 days. Don’t forget about food bowls and a manual can opener, too.
  • Medications, a first aid kit, and veterinary records (stored in a waterproof container).
  • Litter box, kitty litter, scoop, and waste disposal bags.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers (with bedding). Make sure the ID on your pet’s collar is up to date as well.
  • Current photographs of you with your pets and written descriptions of your pets, in case you get separated.
  • Written instructions on your pet’s care, feeding, behavior, and health conditions (plus your veterinarian’s contact info) in case you need to board your pets.

Other useful items

  • Newspapers
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • Grooming supplies
  • Bleach

Interested in learning more?  Check out this informative video:

 

First Aid Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe this Summer

Check out these great summer-themed first aid tips from the website PetMD.  Your pets can face all sorts of warm weather hazards like hot pavements on soft paws, an unexpected dip in the pool, insect bites and stings, and heatstroke.  Help keep your dogs, cats, and other companion animals safe this summer with these tips.

Know the signs of heatstroke and how to treat it.

Your pet can get overheated in the hot summer months.  Symptoms of heatstroke include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, fast pulse, red gums, and collapse.  If your pet’s temperature is over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, take her to a cool place immediately and begin treating with cool water (not ice water).  Bring your pet to the vet for a thorough exam, as heatstroke can cause organ damage.

Protect your pet from insect pests.

If you live in a place with a high incidence of Lyme Disease, consider having your pet vaccinated for it.  Use flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats but never administer dog treatments to your cat.  Cats are sensitive to these treatments and ones intended for dogs can be toxic to them.  You can give antihistamines for insect bites, just talk to your vet about dosage.

Be aware of the dangers of snake bites.

Bites from rattlesnakes and other venomous critters can be a hazard to your pet in the warm weather months.  Take your pet to the vet ASAP if she has been bitten by a snake or other animal.  Vets recommend not putting any topical medicines on the bite until it has been examined by an expert.

Open windows can be hazardous to your pet.

If you open your windows during the warm weather, make sure your screens are undamaged and securely in place before you let your pet sit on the windowsill.  Cats are especially likely to suffer trauma injuries from falling out of a window.   Your pet can get internal injuries as well as broken bones from a fall, so be sure to get to the vet as soon as possible.

Keep pets safe around the water.

Don’t assume your dog is an expert swimmer when you allow him to romp around the pool or take her for a boat ride.  Make sure your pet can swim and knows his way out of the pool in an emergency.  Get a pet life jacket for boat rides.  Be aware of the hazards of parasites and bacterial infections if your dog swims in a pond or river.  Pool chemicals can also irritate your pet’s eyes…and stomach, if swallowed.

Protect paw pads from hot surfaces.

Your pet can get burns on her paw pads if she walks on a hot surface like cement, or even beach sand.  Put booties on your dog’s feet for a long walk in the summer heat.  Soak your pet’s paws in cool water and talk to your vet about topical medicines to apply to the feet.  Also, pets with light colored fur can get sunburn, so keep them out of the midday sun or get them sun protection products made just for pets.

Summer foods can pose a risk to your pets.

Your pets may love the idea of hanging around your backyard barbecue, but be sure to keep an eye on them when the food is served.  Summertime favorites like corn on the cob (dogs may swallow cobs whole) and barbecue sauce (contains onion, garlic, and salt) can pose a real danger to your pet, as can alcoholic beverages.

Beware of pesticides and poisonous plants.

Keep pets off lawns that have been freshly treated with pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.  Certain pesticides like rodent and snail bait can be very harmful, or even fatal, to your pet if ingested.  Remove mushrooms from your yard as many can be toxic to pets.