The American Heart Association recently published a study on the health benefits of dog ownership for people at risk for heart attack and stroke.
According to the study, dog ownership is associated with a 33% lower risk of death for heart attack survivors who live alone, as compared to non-dog owners.
Dog-owning stroke survivors who live alone have a 27% reduced risk of death compared to those who don’t own a dog.
Dog ownership has been found to be associated with a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality (31% reduced risk for heart attack and stroke).
Why is there such a significant reduction in mortality? The American Heart Association points to two key factors related to dog ownership: companionship/social connection and increased physical activity, both of which can lead to improved health and lowered blood pressure.
The researchers found that among heart attack and stroke survivors, the risk of death was lower for dog owners than even for people living with a spouse or child!
A sobering new video produced by Dr. Carrie Turnbull of the Staunton River Veterinary Clinic in Virginia might come as a surprise to many pet owners.
The suicide rate among veterinarians is significantly higher than the rate for the general population. One study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that female veterinarians are 3.5 times and male veterinarians 2.1 times as likely to die from suicide than the general population.
Dr. Turnbull notes in her video that many veterinarians tend to be high-achiever, type A personality types, and they are strongly affected by the stressors inherent in their jobs, such as unsuccessful treatments and patient deaths.
She also notes that vets can experience financial stress and many carry a significant amount of debt for years after veterinary school.
Do you have friends or family in the veterinary profession? Dr. Turnbull recommends checking in with them to see how they are doing and if they are getting the help and support that they need.
You can watch Dr. Turnbull’s video below and learn more about this issue on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website HERE. There is also a Facebook group called Not One More Vet that provides help for vets in need of support.
A new research study published in the journal Current Biology has come to a conclusion that cat owners have known all along—cats form strong emotional bonds with their humans!
The authors point out that although studies on canine behavior and cognition far outnumber those on feline behavior and cognition, the research that does exist shows that cats form social bonds with humans and other animals–and the bonds they form with their human caregivers are especially strong.
The researchers in this study observed how kittens in the 3-8 month age range behaved with their owners, then during a brief separation, and finally when they were reunited with their owners.
The kittens were first evaluated and divided into two attachment styles: securely attached and insecurely attached. Then a portion were enrolled in socialization training with their owners. The researchers found that their attachment styles were already strongly developed and did not change much after training.
During the separation/reunion component of the study, the kittens showed roughly the same rates of attachment to their people as both dogs and children. Around 66% were securely attached and 34% were insecurely attached. (Dogs are 58%–42% and children are 65%–35%)
How do cats show secure vs. insecure attachment? All the cats showed distress during the separation phase of the experiment (lots of meowing!) but the securely attached cats showed reduced stress when the caregivers returned. The insecurely attached cats remained at higher levels of stress when their humans returned.
Click HERE to watch a video of some of the cats and owners observed by the researchers. You can see how the cats’ reunion behaviors differ based on their attachment styles.
The BBC recently produced a heartwarming video about retirement facilities for senior pets in Japan.
When elderly pet owners enter assisted living and are no longer able to keep their pets, a growing number of animal retirement homes are taking in senior pets, many with special needs, to care for them in their final years.
But you don’t have to be a senior citizen to take advantage of these facilities. One client profiled in the video travels overseas for work and has an older cat with kidney disease who requires regular IV treatments.
These homes provide the pets with lots of love and attention, including special services like water exercise, veterinary care, wheeled carts, and grooming. Owners can get updates and check in on their pets via cell phone.