The Benefits of Pet Ownership

by Kerry Firth

It’s been a one of those days.  You spilled coffee on your presentation, causing you to miss the appointment, and your boss is mad. The car just got a flat tire, so after standing on the side of the road waiting for AAA, you’re hot, tired and miserable. You drive home, juggle your keys to open the door . . . then your little pup comes bounding out, wagging his whole body, exhilarated just to see you. Picking him up, you can’t help but break out in a smile as he licks away the stress of the world.  Pure, unconditional love . . .that’s what pets are all about!
    Walking in the park with your canine buddy gives you a sense of well being and contentment. It’s a lot more fun than a treadmill at the gym!  The bond of trust between the two of you builds self awareness; just having him at your side brings a feeling of security and stability. Being loved and accepted without judgment is perhaps the greatest gift our pets bestow! It’s indisputable that owning a pet is good for your health, even beyond the emotional bond. Evidence shows that pet owners are in better physical and mental health than non-owners. 
    A 1999 study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society observed nearly 1000 men and women (average age of 73 years). In addition to significantly lower systolic blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, they found that owning a pet enhanced the owner’s Activities of Daily Living (ADL) score, which evaluates the ability to get out of bed, bathe, dress for the day and prepare meals.  Pet owners were also less likely to experience a decline in psychological well being in a crisis. However, pets provide more than just a happy and healthy home-life. 
     Pets in the workplace are perceived to create a friendlier environment and relieve employee stress.  These benefits are passed along to customers, giving a favorable impression that fosters social interaction. Some business owners find that customers come in to their store just to visit the resident dog or cat! 
    But let’s face it, in reality, most of us get a pet for the pure enjoyment it brings to our lives! ­­
   
Taking Care of Your Pet

Few pet owners view grooming their pet as a chore.  Bathing and brushing your pet seems to satisfy some ancient primal urge to take of another.  But some pets may require the skilled hand of a professional to tame their wily coats.  Be sure to check out a groomer before dropping off your pet.  Ask to see the facilities.  Take your dog on a visit to see how he interacts with the groomer and call the supplied references. Once you do your homework, Fido will love the chance to go visit his new-found friends at the puppy salon and will take pride in his appearance after such devoted pampering! It’s good for him.
A Veterinarian is Your Pet’s Second-best Friend

When choosing a veterinarian, you are searching for more than just a medical expert. You want a doctor who has both people and animal skills, and is accessible when you need him.  The time to look for a vet is when your pet is well, not when he is sick, so plan ahead and choose wisely.
    The best way to find a good veterinarian is to ask people who have the same approach to pet care as you do.  Good sources are your groomer, neighbor, or pet sitter.  Learn about the hospital’s philosophy and policies. Write down the questions you want answered before you go. Veterinarians often work as a team so you should not only interview the doctor, but the support staff as well.  Here are a few questions to help you get started.

1. Is the facility clean, comfortable and well organized?
2. Are appointments required?
3. How many veterinarians are in the practice?
4. Is the staff caring and courteous, communicating effectively?
5. Are the doctors available for emergency, after hours calls?
6. Are dog and cat cages in separate areas?
7. Do the veterinarians have special fields of interest like geriatrics or behavior?
8. Is the location convenient?
9. Do they make house calls?
10. Are there multi-pet or senior citizen discounts?

Tour the facility and ask about their fees. Do the fees fit your budget? Consider the location. Driving a few extra miles will be worth it if it brings happiness to the one who loves you with such complete devotion.

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image © Eric Isselée, iStockPhoto.com

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