Give thanks: 5 reasons why people with pets live happier, longer lives

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Give thanks: 5 reasons why people with pets live happier, longer lives

Canadian’s will gather round the dinner table Oct. 13 to celebrate Thanksgiving with family- and in many homes in North America the family members include pets. According to a 2013 survey by Ipsos- a leading market research company in Canada- 57% of Canadian's own a pet. In the United States 67% of households have a pet to call their own. Pet parents giving thanks to their pets may not know the amazing gifts that their pets are giving them every day.

Countless studies have been conducted to determine a pets influence on its owner's overall health. Research has shown that pets can do all sorts of things to improve their owner’s health and even help people live longer. Some pets assist people with disabilities while others soothes people suffering from depression. Either way there is plenty to give thanks to when it comes to pet.

Check out these 5 reasons to give thanks for the family pets. Find out how just owning a pet can benefit the entire family and keep them happy and healthy for the holidays and all their other days.

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They help ease


Past animal and human studies have documented that people with pets in their homes tend to live happier, healthier lives. John Hopkins Medicine reported in a Health Alert that a small study done in Israel uncovered more about the effects of dog therapy for people who suffered from schizophrenia.

"During weekly sessions, participants could choose from a range of activities such as petting, feeding, cleaning, or walking a dog," the Health Alert reported. "After 10 sessions, participants had formed a bond with and looked forward to seeing the dog and also improved their personal appearance in anticipation of the sessions."

A group participated in therapy sessions without a dog present. They did not display the same improvements as the group with the therapy dog. Pets reduce stress and the bonding experience between human and animal combats depression.

Dogs are also used by The Canadian Service Dog Foundation (CSDF) as Emotional Support Animals (ESA.) ESA pets are not allowed in public places like service dogs but provide their owner with a service just the same. They help owners with mental illness, depression and other mood altering illnesses.

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They teach us about

To own a pet means that its basic survival needs must be met. The pet must be cleaned, fed and exercised to say the least. A pet is a long time commitment and requires a lot of responsibility.  

According to a report by associate editor of Psych Central Therese J. Borchard being responsible for a pet can be a mood enhancer. It also promotes high self-esteem and confidence.

"We reinforce to ourselves that we are capable of caring for another creature as well as ourselves," the report states."That’s why chores are so important in teaching adolescents self-mastery and independence."

Taking care of a pet also adds structure to the owner's day and completing tasks provide a sense of accomplishment. The pet parent will feel proud that they are caring for the pet so well and assert the same practices in other areas of his or her life. Be thankful your pet could lead you to great success. 

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They look after those in need

Service dogs are available to their owners for a wide array of reasons- some lead the blind while others can detect their owner's seizure before it even happens. They also help people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and can aid the owner when experiencing a panic attack.

The most important part of a service dog's job is to allow its pet parent to lead as normal a life as possible. Service dogs assist individuals in everyday life events that may be more challenging with an illness or disability.

The CSDF uses Reference 28, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 36.104 to define a service dog as "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability... The work or tasks performed by a service dog must be directly related to the handler's disability."

For some people their service dog is someone they are thankful for every day- not just on Thanksgiving. Those who do not currently need a service dog should also give thanks for the service dogs of the world- at lease one will be there if it is ever needed.

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They help us stay active

Pet parents- specifically dog owners- are more active because they need to interact with their pet to burn off its energy. Most dogs need at least one walk a day but depending on the breed a dog could need upwards of an hour a day of exercise. Dog owners who take their dogs for daily walks usually get the 75 to 150 minuets of physical activity a week that the American Heart Association recommends. released research that regular dog walking leads to healthier lifestyle. The research shows that even non-dog owners who interact with other peoples dogs are getting a boost in physical activity.

"Shared social and physical environment between dogs and owners may influence physical activity behavior of both dog-owners and non-owners," the report states.
Be thankful that the dog always wants to go for a walk- it is a fat burning, healthy way to interact with the family pet.

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They help us live longer

By far the greatest reason to give thanks for pets this holiday is the gift of longer life that a pet- in particular a dog- can give to its owner. The American Heart Association released a report that owning a dog could reduce the risk of heart disease.

"Dog ownership in particular may help reduce cardiovascular risk. People with dogs may engage in more physical activity because they walk them'" the report states. "In a study of more than 5,200 adults, dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity."

Owning a pet has also been linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and can even lower the risk of obesity. Not to mention the stress relief that pets provide their owners with- all of these things are great for heart health.

The bond felt between pet and pet parents may also be a reason why people with pets in their homes live longer on average. A little extra love never killed anyone! This Thanksgiving don't forget to include the family pet in the celebration and give thanks for the bountiful benefits that come with being a pet parent.

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