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Companion Animals Give us more than Unconditional Love, they also contribute to our mental and emotional health

Did you know that owning a dog and pet ownership in general, can help a person in many ways? Owning a pet can improve your emotional health and wellness, reduce your visits to the doctor, improve your cardiovascular health and allow for faster recovery time from surgery as well as higher survival rates. Recent research suggests that dogs may be able to detect cancer on a person’s breath! Lets’ explore these amazing health benefits…


Studies have shown that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than non-dog owners. These factors, in turn, reduce the chance of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, just stroking a pet has long been known to reduce blood pressure. Furthermore, a study from the New York State University concluded that these benefits continue even without the pet being present.

Additional studies have indicated senior citizens and recent post-op patients respond better to treatment and recover faster while in contact with dogs and other therapy animals. Did you know that dog owners have a greater chance to survive a serious illness than non-dog owners? In fact, a study revealed that a pet affected a person’s survival rate even more than the presence or company of family members or friends!

Studies conducted at Cambridge and UCLA concluded that there is a direct correlation between pet ownership and improved overall health, which leads to fewer visits to the doctor. The Journal of American Geriatrics Society notes that pet ownership has a positive effect on a senior’s physical and emotional well being. Additionally, a Medicare study of elderly patients also shows that people who own a dog have fewer doctor visits than patients who do not.

Pets offer unconditional love and affection and their presence alone helps reduce loneliness. For people who are isolated, disabled or handicapped, a pet offers friendship and can even add a element of safety to their lives. Dogs can assist with therapy in hospices, nursing homes and as companions for the disabled and blind. In fact, there are studies that prove that people with a major illness fight the stress of having the illness better by having a dog as a pet.

But wait, there’s More good news

There is new information that suggests that dogs may be able to detect certain types of cancer. Researchers at the Pine Street Foundation in San Anselmo, California and the Polish Academy of Sciences exposed dogs to breath samples from breast and lung cancer patients and samples from healthy people. They claim that the dogs were able to detect cancer with astonishing results and accuracy.

The dogs were able to identify 99% of lung cancer breath samples (which included early stage cancer patients) as well as 88% of breast cancer samples. The study, which has been met with skepticism, will be released early in 2006 and published in the March edition of the Journal for Integrative Cancer Therapies. Experts agree that this holds promise, but must be evaluated and researched further.

Animal Companions provide countless benefits for their human companions. Animal companions encourage social interaction, reduce stress levels, boost self-confidence and self-esteem and encourages exercise. If you are ready to take the next step and learn more about fostering or adopting a pet, the Humane Society is a great place to start!

This weekend, May 17-19th is National Adoption Weekend. In honor of this, many shelters and rescues are holding adoption events throughout the community. If you are interested in adopting a companion animal and have more questions message us at Falco’s Friends