Let’s face it, if we’re pet parents, our pets are really like our babies. We call them babies, we treat them like babies, and we love them almost as much as they love us (truthfully, if you have a dog, the dog loves you more than you will love him or her). Pets, in particular dogs, have a lot of positive benefits to our lives. Not just that constant companionship and unconditional love, but they are also good for our physical and mental health. That being said, they aren’t without their own health issues too.
First off, dogs are active and by default they keep us active by having to walk them. This is great for our heart health and for our physical fitness. Walking your dog for 30 minutes a day is good for you both. They’re also great for chronic pain, which can be reduced by the release of endorphins. Guess what petting your dog does for you? Yup, releases endorphins. They are also amazing at sensing when something is wrong. Whether that’s the ability to monitor a diabetic patient’s blood sugar levels, or sensing when an epileptic person is about to have a seizure, there is a reason that dog’s are trained to help.
Active Spike getting a photoshoot in High Park.
As far as mental health goes, pets are great for reducing stress and anxiety. Think about the steady rhythm of their breathing and heart. Just cuddling with your dog can help you relax. They may even reduce your risk of depression, which could be due to their love and friendship, their ability to reduce stress, or even their generally happy nature. And any pet is better than no pet.
But what if your pet isn’t healthy? Besides the insane monetary costs associated with vet visits (I wish I could claim my dog as a dependent on my taxes lol), the heartbreak and realization that they aren’t going to be there forever, or that they are in pain, is terrible. I will bring my dog to his annual check-ups, get whatever tests the vet suggests, and do what I can for him. Spike has diabetes, and he’s gone blind because of it. There may be some concern about his liver, and we just found out he has a heart murmur. He’s an old guy so it happens, but because of all the above positive things he does for me, I want to keep him around for as long as possible (my childhood dog lived to 17, mostly thanks to my mom’s care for him).
Spike, age 10 1/2.
Keeping your pet healthy can keep you healthy. And I personally like that.