Senior Scene August 22,2016

I confessed several years ago to being a pet fanatic, with a particular fondness for cats. Just recently I gained another tiny furry friend because someone deemed it necessary to toss her and her sibling out on the road in front of my neighbour’s house. Despite our quick action, we were only able to capture one kitten and the other became hopelessly lost in the bush.  Three days later it was found dead on the road.  If people who commit such despicable acts only knew the fate of 75 percent of the helpless little creatures they abandon.  Just because it is a rural area, and there may be evidence of other cats, the chances of a tiny kitten being rescued and surviving are very, very slim.

Research has shown that pets enhance the psychological and physical functioning of humans and at times were more effective than other humans in the treatment of psychological, physical, and emotional concerns. From a healthcare perspective, pets are our “best friends” for a reason! Some of the health benefits of pet ownership are as follows:

  • Pets can improve your mood. For those who love animals, it is virtually impossible to stay in a bad mood when a pair of “puppy dog” eyes gaze lovingly into yours, or a soft, cuddly kitty rubs against your body and purrs loudly.       There is a distinct correlation between decreased reports of depression and pet ownership.
  • Pets control blood pressure better than drugs.       While ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibiting drugs can generally reduce blood pressure, they are not as effective as a pet in the control of spikes in blood pressure due to stress and tension.
  • Pets encourage you to get out and exercise. Whether you walk your dog because they need it, or because you enjoy the activity more with a furry companion, the point is that dog owners get more exercise. Exercise, as we all know, is good for stress management and overall health, and owning a dog can be credited with increasing these benefits.
  • Pets stave off loneliness and provide unconditional love.       Pets can be there for you in ways that humans cannot. The can offer love and companionship, and can also enjoy comfortable silences, keep secrets, and are excellent “snugglers”. They can be the best antidote to loneliness. All these benefits can reduce the amount of stress people experience in response to feelings of social isolation and lack of social support from people.
  • Pets can reduce stress – sometimes more than people.       While we all know the power of talking about your problems with a good friend who’s a good listener, recent research shows that spending time with a pet may be even better.       When conducting a task that was stressful, people actually experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a supportive friend or spouse was present.       Part of this finding may be due to the fact that pets do not judge us, they just love us.

The inherent benefits of pet ownership are limitless and with a little support, almost anyone can care for a furry friend.

A couple of reminders:

  • August 25th is “Tag Day” for Community Care for South Hastings in Belleville.
  • September 14th at 2:00 p.m. is the Community Care for South Hastings Annual General Meeting.