Increase longevity after heart attacks
ownership increases the odds for survival in persons who have had a heart
attack from 1 in 15 to 1 in 87. Pet ownership also has increased the
percent of people who survived at least one year after hospitalization for
heart problems. Only 6% of nonpet owners survived versus 28% of people
with pets. Pet ownership may be only one of several variables that
influenced this improved survival, but even a 2-3% difference is
significant. In addition, pets may actually lessen the risk of heart
Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
People with pets have been found to
have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels when compared to people who
did not have pets, even when matched for weight, diet, and smoking habits.
Decrease blood pressure and reduce stress
have been shown to reduce blood pressure in a number of populations.
Studies in women undergoing stress tests, have demonstrated that the
presence of a dog had more of an effect on lowering blood pressure than
the presence of friends. Similarly, children who had a dog present during
their physical examination showed lower heart rate, blood pressure, and
behavioral distress than when the dog was not present.
Stockbrokers who had dogs or cats in
their offices when they had to carry out stressful tasks had smaller
increases in blood pressure than those who did not have a pet present.
Increase physical activity and functioning
People who own pets often have
better physical health due to the need to exercise and care for their
Reduce medical appointments and minor health problems
The use of prescription drugs and
the overall cost of caring for patients in nursing homes dropped in those
facilities where companion animals became part of the therapy. A study
also found that for persons living at home, those with pets had fewer
medical appointments and minor health problems.
Some people who have periodic
seizures have reported that their dogs can sense the onset of a seizure
before they can. Now it has been found that dogs can be specially trained
to recognize some type of change prior to a seizure, and signal the owner
of the imminent seizure. This gives the owner sufficient time to prepare,
such as moving away from a hot stove. These dogs are called
'seizure-alert' or 'seizure-response' dogs, and can be trained to signal
their owners from 15 to 45 minutes prior to a seizure.
Control 'freezing' in Parkinson's Disease
addition to the tremors and stiffness that Parkinson's patients
experience, they also face a problem called 'freezing.' Their feet freeze
in place while the rest of their body keeps moving, causing the person to
fall. As a result, some people with Parkinson's may tend to become
sedentary, reluctant to move, and reclusive.
Parkinson's helper dogs have been
trained to identify when a person with Parkinson's is 'freezing.' If the
dog touches the person's foot, it breaks the freeze and the person can
continue walking. Medical experts really do not know how or why this
works. In addition to breaking the 'freeze,' the dogs are taught to
prevent their partners from falling by counterbalancing and helping them
regain their footing. If the person would fall, the dog can help the
It may sound stranger than fiction,
but a dog in Florida, named George, has been reported to be able to detect
a particular smell given off by certain skin tumors called
malignant melanomas. George can sniff out this cancer with
close to 100% accuracy. Researchers at Cambridge University are studying
the use of dogs to detect the smell of prostate cancer in urine from human
Alert to hypoglycemia
There are also animals who alert
their owners to episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which allows
the owner to correct the level before serious symptoms develop.