Category: Core thought

What your pet dogs need to eat! Eat meat!

A fascinating article on vegetarian diets for our dogs.

We are non-meat eaters here at home. Have been for a while. Our diet is essentially vegan most of the time with some fish thrown in as well. It seems to be doing us well!

But what does us good is not what does dogs good. Not at all!

You know that dogs need meat but there was a recent article on Mother Nature Network which went into details:

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Is a vegetarian diet safe for my dog?

By Jessica Knoblauch
June 3, 2019.

Experts say plant-based diets don’t always give dogs the nutrition they need. (Photo: Stickler/Shutterstock)

More people are forgoing meat in their diets for a whole spectrum of reasons — from environmental to philosophical — and now vegetarians are taking a second look at their dogs’ meat-based diets too. As a result, more owners are putting their dogs on a vegetarian or even vegan diet to bypass the health and ethical dilemmas that come with a side of beef, pork or chicken in their pet’s kibble.

“I’ve been vegan for more than two years now, and I don’t wish to contribute to the slaughterhouse or factory farm industry for my own food nor for my dogs’,” explains Debra Benfer, who together with her husband owns three vegan dogs. “If people really read what ingredients are put in dog food, I believe more people would understand why a vegetarian diet is the way to go.”

Some of those ingredients include meat from animals deemed unfit for human consumption, known in the pet food industry as the 4 Ds — dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals. In addition, many commercial pet foods contain “meat meal” or “byproducts,” which can include various animal parts and slaughterhouse waste that don’t exactly match the idyllic pictures of juicy meat chunks often seen on a bag or can of dog food. Much like commercial meat for humans, meat used in pet food can contain hormones, pesticides and antibiotics, a concern that has led many dog owners to seek alternative diets.

“If someone is saying it’s OK to give my dog these things, I would add a 5th ‘D’ to that equation and say ‘don’t,’” says Jill Howard Church, president of the Vegetarian Society of Georgia. “As a vegetarian, I know what’s in human meat and since the meat that falls below the human standard is what goes into pet food, it gives me cause for concern.”

Church’s two dogs were on a vegetarian diet for their entire lives and lived to be a healthy 15 and 19 years old. Church currently has a 3-year-old black Labrador retriever that’s also thriving on a vegetarian diet.

Church and Benfer’s positive experience with vegetarian dog diets is mirrored in hundreds of testimonials found on the internet from owners who have successfully switched their dogs to a vegetarian diet. Some owners have bypassed the dog food industry altogether by cooking their own wholesome vegetarian dog meals.

“People are taking control of their animals’ diet back into their own hands instead of relying on the pet food industry so much,” says Greg Martinez, author of “Dog Dish Diet: Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog’s Health“. “We’ve all been held hostage by industry a little bit.”

In addition to decreasing a dog’s carbon pawprint (meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions), owners say that putting their dogs on a vegetarian diet has resulted in everything from longer life spans and shinier coats to decreased aggression.

‘It is truly unnatural for them’

It would be smart to consult with a veterinary nutritionist before switching to a vegetarian diet for your dog. (Photo: Rasulov/Shutterstock)

However, there are those who worry that vegetarian dogs may not be able to get adequate nutrition from a plant-based diet. Dogs, like humans, are omnivores, meaning they can survive on a diet of either plant or animal origin, but owners must be careful to ensure that their dogs are getting the proper nutrients from plant-based ingredients. (Cats, on the other hand, are strictly carnivores.)

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), a non-regulatory industry group that establishes pet food standards, dog food for an average adult dog should contain about 18% protein, an amount deemed necessary for good health and proper growth and development. But since every protein source contains different levels of amino acids, which are protein’s building blocks, all protein is not created equal. Some proteins are better for pets than others. For example, egg and cottage cheese are considered quality sources of protein for dogs.

“Vegetarian proteins tend not to have all the amino acids, so you have to do multiple combinations of varying types of sources of protein to get the right amino acids, which can get a little tricky to manage,” says Dr. Jessica Waldman, a veterinarian who operates a full-time pet rehabilitation clinic in Santa Monica, California. Waldman says she steers her clients away from vegetarian diets because she believes they are unnatural.

“Although I think it would be possible to put a dog on a vegetarian diet, it is truly unnatural for them,” says Waldman. “There are still dogs in the wild and they eat a vast majority of animal protein, so I think that keeping your pet’s diet as close to natural is best for limiting disease and promoting health.”

Other vets disagree, arguing that dogs can successfully be vegetarians as long as their diet is balanced and they are able to get proteins from varying sources.

Dr. Jennifer Larsen, a veterinary nutritionist at the University of California-Davis, says that both commercial and home-cooked vegetarian diets “can be used safely and can provide adequate nutrition if carefully and appropriately formulated” and as long as owners pay special attention to providing their dogs with the proper protein and amino acids.

Commercial vegetarian diets and home-cooked options are prescribed by veterinarians for dogs with specific diseases, but there currently isn’t much extensive research to prove or disprove their healthfulness. One survey conducted by PETA found that 82% of dogs that had been vegan for five years or more were in good to excellent health and that the longer a dog remained on a vegetarian or vegan diet, the greater the likelihood that the dog would have overall good to excellent health.

The study, however, also found that vegetarian dogs may be more prone to urinary tract infections as well as a form of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy, which can be caused by a deficiency of the amino acids L-carnitine or taurine. But as the researchers pointed out, DCM isn’t just a problem for vegetarian dogs since L-carnitine and taurine also can be washed away in the processing of meat in commercial dog food.

To help bypass this problem, some commercial dog food companies like V-dog, a high protein vegan dog food, have added taurine and L-carnitine to their formulas to insure quality health that “exceeds the nutrient profiles established by the AAFCO,” says V-dog President David Middlesworth.

Though putting dogs on a vegetarian diet may remain controversial until further studies are conducted, veterinarians and vegetarian dog owners can agree that people considering putting their dog on a vegetarian diet should first do their own research to determine what’s best for their individual dog’s needs and/or consult their veterinarian.

Jennifer Adolphe, an animal nutritionist at the University of Saskatchewan, told The Washington Post that pet owners should do research. She advises pet owners to do “some homework to find out who is behind the company, if it employs a full-time qualified nutritionist, what kind of quality control measures do they use.”

“It just takes research and the willingness to stick by your reasons for having your dogs on a vegetarian diet,” says Benfer, who often makes homemade dog food for her three vegan dogs. “I get strange looks when I let people know my dogs are vegan, but it’s only because they aren’t educated about dogs being vegetarian and don’t realize how easy and possible it really is to do.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information since it was published in August 2010.

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Well not much to add from me. This article is completely clear to my mind.

Dogs need meat!

Being ever so grateful for one’s lot.

There’s a science background to being healthy and happy.

Especially as one gets older.

It’s Jean’s birthday today and we are grateful for our lot. I’m 75 now and Jean is a few years younger. But more importantly we are so grateful to have met and, subsequently, fallen in love.

As well as Jean’s love in return we have our gorgeous dogs as well (not to count in addition the two horses, the two parakeets and the cat) and they reinforce the feelings of happiness that surround us.

All of which is an introduction to an article on The Conversation that caught my eye yesterday.

I’m afraid it doesn’t mention dogs but then again we dog owners know for sure how they benefit us humans.

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Are you as grateful as you deserve to be?

November 26, 2019
By
Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University

Gratitude is not only a great feeling but a healthy one. Aaron Amat/Shutterstock.com

As a physician, I have helped to care for many patients and families whose lives have been turned upside down by serious illnesses and injuries. In the throes of such catastrophes, it can be difficult to find cause for anything but lament. Yet Thanksgiving presents us with an opportunity to develop one of the healthiest, most life-affirming and convivial of all habits – that of counting and rejoicing in our blessings.

Gratitude’s benefits

Research shows that grateful people tend to be healthy and happy. They exhibit lower levels of stress and depression, cope better with adversity and sleep better. They tend to be happier and more satisfied with life. Even their partners tend to be more content with their relationships.

Perhaps when we are more focused on the good things we enjoy in life, we have more to live for and tend to take better care of ourselves and each other.

When researchers asked people to reflect on the past week and write about things that either irritated them or about which they felt grateful, those tasked with recalling good things were more optimistic, felt better about their lives and actually visited their physicians less.

It is no surprise that receiving thanks makes people happier, but so does expressing gratitude. An experiment that asked participants to write and deliver thank-you notes found large increases in reported levels of happiness, a benefit that lasted for an entire month.

Philosophical roots

Giving thanks is important for our psyches and our souls. Love You Stock/Shutterstock.com

One of the greatest minds in Western history, the Greek philosopher Aristotle, argued that we become what we habitually do. By changing our habits, we can become more thankful human beings.

If we spend our days ruminating on all that has gone poorly and how dark the prospects for the future appear, we can think ourselves into misery and resentment.

But we can also mold ourselves into the kind of people who seek out, recognize and celebrate all that we have to be grateful for.

This is not to say that anyone should become a Pollyanna, ceaselessly reciting the mantra from Voltaire’s “Candide,” “All is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.” There are injustices to be righted and wounds to be healed, and ignoring them would represent a lapse of moral responsibility.

But reasons to make the world a better place should never blind us to the many good things it already affords. How can we be compassionate and generous if we are fixated on deficiency? This explains why the great Roman statesman Cicero called gratitude not only the greatest of virtues but the “parent” of them all.

Religious roots

Gratitude is deeply embedded in many religious traditions. In Judaism, the first words of the morning prayer could be translated, “I thank you.” Another saying addresses the question, “Who is rich?” with this answer: “Those who rejoice in what they have.”

From a Christian perspective, too, gratitude and thanksgiving are vital. Before Jesus shares his last meal with his disciples, he gives thanks. So vital a part of Christian life is gratitude that author and critic G.K. Chesterton calls it “the highest form of thought.”

Gratitude also plays an essential role in Islam. The 55th chapter of the Quran enumerates all the things human beings have to be grateful for – the Sun, Moon, clouds, rain, air, grass, animals, plants, rivers and oceans – and then asks, “How can a sensible person be anything but thankful to God?”

Other traditions also stress the importance of thankfulness. Hindu festivals celebrate blessings and offer thanks for them. In Buddhism, gratitude develops patience and serves as an antidote to greed, the corrosive sense that we never have enough.

Roots even in suffering

In his 1994 book, “A Whole New Life,” the Duke University English professor Reynolds Price describes how his battle with a spinal cord tumor that left him partially paralyzed also taught him a great deal about what it means to really live.

After surgery, Price describes “a kind of stunned beatitude.” With time, though diminished in many ways by his tumor and its treatment, he learns to pay closer attention to the world around him and those who populate it.

Reflecting on the change in his writing, Price notes that his books differ in many ways from those he penned as a younger man. Even his handwriting, he says, “looks very little like that of the man he was at the time of his diagnosis.”

“Cranky as it is, it’s taller, more legible, and with more air and stride. And it comes down the arm of a grateful man.”

A brush with death can open our eyes. Some of us emerge with a deepened appreciation for the preciousness of each day, a clearer sense of our real priorities and a renewed commitment to celebrating life. In short, we can become more grateful, and more alive, than ever.

Practicing gratitude

Good conversation, good friends and connections – not material possessions – bring great joy. Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com

When it comes to practicing gratitude, one trap to avoid is locating happiness in things that make us feel better off – or simply better – than others. In my view, such thinking can foster envy and jealousy.

There are marvelous respects in which we are equally blessed – the same Sun shines down upon each of us, we all begin each day with the same 24 hours, and each of us enjoys the free use of one of the most complex and powerful resources in the universe, the human brain.

Much in our culture seems aimed to cultivate an attitude of deficiency – for example, most ads aim to make us think that to find happiness we must buy something. Yet most of the best things in life – the beauty of nature, conversation and love – are free.

There are many ways to cultivate a disposition of thankfulness. One is to make a habit of giving thanks regularly – at the beginning of the day, at meals and the like, and at day’s end.

Likewise, holidays, weeks, seasons and years can be punctuated with thanks – grateful prayer or meditation, writing thank-you notes, keeping a gratitude journal and consciously seeking out the blessings in situations as they arise.

Gratitude can become a way of life, and by developing the simple habit of counting our blessings, we can enhance the degree to which we are truly blessed.

[ Thanks for reading! We can send you The Conversation’s stories every day in an informative email. Sign up today. ]

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That reference to Reynolds Price and his challenges make one think. I have been fortunate that nothing really dreadful has happened to me; apart from my father’s death when I had just turned 12. I’m getting a little hazy in terms of certain memories but that’s an old age thing rather than an illness. But to go through what he did; I just don’t know the person that I am, in terms of how I wold react to that.

But to the general tone of the article, I would hope that I can get better and better.

For it’s splendid to cultivate that disposition.

One is to make a habit of giving thanks regularly – at the beginning of the day, at meals and the like, and at day’s end.

Perfect!

FindShadow to the rescue!

There’s nothing so bad as losing one’s dog.

I was recently contacted by John Brooks. He writes of himself:

John Brooks loves animals from the core of his heart. Whenever he gets time, he tries to write regarding animal health & condition so that all pet lovers like you don’t fall in any hazardous situation.

He went on to explain that:

One day, Findshadow helped me to find my lost dog. So that I wrote about Findshadow.

So with no further ado, here is John’s post.

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What Is Findshadow How It Can Help You Find Your Missing Dog

Dog owners share a lot of the same grievances, annoyances, and frustrations. From getting up to your pet barking in the wee hours of the night to cleaning up after your dog’s mess during walks around the neighborhood, raising and taking care of a pet comes with a host of responsibilities. And with those responsibilities come work, and with work comes grievance, annoyance, and frustration.

However, one of the worst, most gut-wrenching feelings that dog owners can relate to is the moment you realize your dog is missing. After searching every room, backtracking to the park you were at with your dog in the morning, asking your neighbors if they have seen them and posting flyers on every telephone you can find, the hopelessness begins to set in.

Luckily for you, Findshadow, a free app that helps dog owners locate their missing companions, is harnessing the power of community and technology to reunite you with your lost pets. And it is doing a pretty darn good job.

So, what is Findshadow? It is is a free smartphone app that walks owners who have lost their pets step-by-step through the process of finding their dogs.

The app offers a wide array of services and tips for their users, all for free. First, you post your lost or found dog to the community. Then, the app gives you a completely personalized, step-by-step plan on how to use the app and other resources to locate your dog. While you may think of some of these steps yourself, you’ll be surprised how thorough the process can be.

After going through these first introductory steps, you can use Findshadow to print or download personalized street flyers. Although posting your pup to the community in-app will definitely increase visibility far more than strictly putting up posters, having physical images of your dog around the neighborhood will still help you get in front of a demographic that doesn’t have Findshadow downloaded.

You can share your post on social media to easily reach friends and family. With just the three aforementioned features, Findshadow has already allowed you to reach three different populations: Findshadow users, people in your neighborhood and your connections on social media.

Getting your dog’s photo in front of as many people as possible is the recipe to success for finding your dog as quickly as possible. The more people who see it, regardless if they use Findshadow or not, the more people who will be able to identify your pet if they see it.

Findshadow also has a nifty feature that makes it easier to contact nearby shelters to ask if they have seen your dog. Even if you don’t directly contact shelters yourself, Findshadow volunteers can help snap pictures of dogs in shelters and send them to you in-app to see if they match.

The sense of community behind Findshadow is powerful. Past users of Findshadow who have successfully been reunited with their dog because of the app give back to the community by becoming active volunteers. This creates a culture where owners are helping each other out. Every dog is considered important.

The interface of the app is easy-to-use and allows users to quickly switch between different features and services. You can browse through found dog listings to double-check posts to see if someone on Findshadow has already found your dog.

The amount of positive reviews and testimonials from dog owners who gush over the app is well-justified. The app has reunited countless owners with their dogs, oftentimes within the same day they went missing.

Even if you haven’t lost your dog, it is a great app to have downloaded just in case something does come up.

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This is the essence of blogging and sharing.

I hadn’t heard of Findshadow before now but will surely put the app on my phone.

Here’s the link to the FindShadow website.

How old is your dog?

Dan sends me a more accurate calculation.

Dear Dan and I recently had an email ‘conversation’ about the conversion of dog years to human years. Then, yesterday,  as in Thursday, he sent me the following article from ZME Science.

Enjoy!

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Here’s a better way to calculate dog years – backed by science.

Lets’s face it, 1 for 7 years is not accurate.

November 21, 2019

By Mihai Andrei

The formula is about mid-way through the article, and it includes a simple calculator.

We learn, as kids, to approximate dog age thusly: one dog year for seven human years. That’s a decent approximation in some cases, but the more you think about it, the more it starts to fall apart.

All dog breeds tend to follow a similar pattern: they reach puberty at 10 months old. Right off the bat, it’s clear that the approximation doesn’t work here, as humans don’t really reach puberty at 6 years. Dogs can also reach 20 years or even more, and 140 years has never been recorded for a human. All in all, while it can give a ballpark estimate, the 7-for-1 approach falls short in many regards.

But now, researchers have come up with a much more accurate formula to assess dog age in human years. This one, at least, is backed by science.

It started as a way to detect factors associated with dog aging, and it focused on a relatively new concept: DNA methylation. The idea is that as we age, our DNA undergoes chemical modifications which can be used as a sort of genetic clock. It’s a way of looking at our body’s wear and tear, as the influence of diseases and unhealthy lifestyle can also be observed (to an extent) with this approach.

It’s not just humans that have epigenetic clocks. Other species have them too — including dogs. Geneticist Trey Ideker of the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues, analyzed the DNA methylation patterns in the genomes of 104 dogs (all golden retrievers), ranging from 4 weeks to 16 years of age. Although just golden retrievers were analyzed, the patterns are very similar for all breeds.

There were remarkable similarities between the DNA methylation of dogs and humans. Although the two species diverged a very long time ago, dogs live in similar environments to humans, and they even have access to similar healthcare.

Simply put, the patterns of DNA methylation in young dogs tended to be similar to those in young humans — the same goes for older dogs and older humans.

Finally, the study also demonstrates that these patterns can be used to translate the age-related physiology of one organism (in this case, dogs) to another organism (humans).

The formula is not linear, and is not exactly simple, but here it is:

Human Years = 16 ln(Dog Years) + 31,

where ln is the natural logarithm.

Inputs

Dog_years:

Outputs

Human_years:

-∞

Powered by JSCalc.io

 

Logarithmic function for epigenetic translation from dog age (x-axis) to human age (y-axis). Tom Hanks for scale. Image credits: Wang et al

The natural logarithm is used because dogs and humans don’t age similarly. Dogs seem to age very quickly in the first part of their life (which is why the age of young pups seem very weird translated into human years), but their ageing process slows down massively compared to that of humans. So the translation dog to human years cannot be linear — it is logarithmic. When your dog is 1 year old, he’s approximately 30 in human years. When he’s 2 years old, he’s 42. He’s around 60 human years by the time he’s 6, but only 70 by the time he’s 12.

It’s a weird thing to wrap your mind around and it is definitely not a perfect translation from dog years to human years, but it works much better than all existing alternatives. It also works to explain why some dogs reach sexual adolescence as early as 6 months old — the onset for that is around 10-14 years for humans. Dogs are adolescent until about 2 years, which in humans lasts until 25 years old. Then, maturity for dogs is around 2-7 years, and for humans around 25-50 years. Similar calculations (but with a slightly different formula) can be carried out for other animals, including cats and mice, researchers conclude.

The study can be read in its entirety for free on biorXiv.

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M’mmm, I think I need a little more time to absorb that!

How service dogs are helping veterans heal.

Time for a break.

I’m well up on my second book so thought that I should offer a post for the day.

It’s a documentary on how dogs are helping the veterans heal.

Here’s how it goes:

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Documentary shines a light on how service dogs are helping veterans heal

By MARY JO DILONARDO
November 7, 2019

Greg Kolodziejczy snuggles with his service dog, Valor, in a scene from the documentary ‘To Be of Service.’ (Photo: ‘To Be of Service’)

When veterans return from combat, many can’t leave behind the terrors they witnessed. In the U.S., roughly 22 veterans commit suicide every day — or one every 65 minutes — according to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The psychological pain of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) breaks up relationships, ends jobs and causes depression and other issues. To help manage the haunting memories and pain, some veterans have found respite in four-legged treatment. Trained service dogs have helped some veterans return to their lives after combat.

The documentary “To Be of Service” follows several American veterans of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam and the dogs that help them cope with PTSD. The film was directed by Josh Aronson, known for the Oscar-nominated documentary “Sound and Fury” about deaf families.

Many of the veterans in the documentary had turned to medications, alcohol or illegal drugs to try to cope with life after combat. But the film shows how having to care for a dog gave them a sense of a purpose and an ever-present friend.

‘I had to tell these stories’

Glen Moody rarely left his house before being paired with Indy. (Photo: ‘To Be of Service’)

The documentary follows nearly a dozen veterans including Glen Moody, who was a Navy Corpsman stationed with the Marines in Iraq. He never got into a fight in his life before he was deployed, but he returned an adrenaline junkie. He would get into bar brawls and ride his motorcycle drunk at 100 mph. He was heavily meditated to treat his PTSD, but never went out, eventually losing all his friends.

“They spend millions to make us warriors but not near enough to teach us to return home,” Moody says.

After being paired with service dog Indy, his rage and anxiety has started to subside. He has made friends again and he rides his motorcycle “like an adult,” he says.

It’s stories like this that prompted producer Julie Sayres to get involved. She has been writing about and working with veterans for the past several years.

“I began to imagine how unsafe a veteran struggling with physical and emotional trauma must feel upon returning from war, to a world that doesn’t have a clue what he or she has endured. It’s isolating and terrifying, leading to never leaving the house, excessive drinking or drug use and in many cases, suicide. I began to explore what these amazing service dogs do to mitigate this kind of anguish,” said Sayres.

“I’ve seen men and women come back to life after letting a dog into their life. I’ve seen families come together after the black cloud of despair is lifted from their father, mother, daughter or son. I had to tell these stories.”

Currently, the film is scheduled for screenings in about a dozen cities, but more will likely be added. To find a screening near you or to find out how to schedule a community or educational screening, check out the film’s website.

Here’s a tissue-worthy peek at what to expect:

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I have said it before and no doubt that I will say it again many times: A dog is without doubt man’s best friend!

Dogs and human health

There’s no shortage of good news about the benefits of a dog in your life.

I have been reading recently about how having a dog, or six, in your life is linked to that life being extended. As I shall be 75 in eleven days time this was not a casual thought.

The reading was as a result of two new studies being published recently: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. I was going to ‘top and tail’ one of these articles and publish it in this place.

But then I decided to do my own research and first off went to the American Heart Association website.

I was blown away by the results. Using their own search facility I put in the word ‘dog’ and received 313 responses. Top of the list were the two articles that I just mentioned.

But first a word about the Association. As their History page very comprehensively says (just a small extract from me):

Before the American Heart Association existed, people with heart disease were thought to be doomed to complete bed rest — or destined to imminent death.

But a handful of pioneering physicians and social workers believed it didn’t have to be that way. They conducted studies to learn more about heart disease, America’s No. 1 killer. Then, on June 10, 1924, they met in Chicago to form the American Heart Association — believing that scientific research could lead the way to better treatment, prevention and ultimately a cure. The early American Heart Association enlisted help from hundreds, then thousands, of physicians and scientists.

“We were living in a time of almost unbelievable ignorance about heart disease,” said Paul Dudley White, one of six cardiologists who founded the organization.

In 1948, the association reorganized, transforming from a professional scientific society to a nationwide voluntary health organization composed of science and lay volunteers and supported by professional staff.

Since then, the AHA has grown rapidly in size and influence — nationally and internationally — into an organization of more than 33 million volunteers and supporters dedicated to improving heart health and reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Here is a timeline of American Heart Association milestones in more than 90 years of lifesaving history:

Read more if you want to here.

Now I’m going to republish the first two articles from that long list of published items. The first is Do dog owners live longer?

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Do dog owners live longer?

As dog lovers have long suspected, owning a canine companion can be good for you. In fact, two recent studies and analyses published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a scientific journal of the American Heart Association, suggest your four-legged friend may help you do better after a heart attack or stroke and may help you live a longer, healthier life. And that’s great news for dog parents!

Dog owners have better results after a major health event.

The studies found that, overall, dog owners tend to live longer than non-owners. And they often recover better from major health events such as heart attack or stroke, especially if they live alone.

Some exciting stats for dog owners:

  • Heart attack survivors living by themselves had a 33% reduced risk of death if they owned a dog, while survivors living with someone else (a partner or child) had a 15% reduced risk.
  • Stroke survivors living by themselves had a 27% reduced risk of death if they owned a dog, while survivors living with someone else (a partner or child) had a 12% reduced risk.
  • Dog owners are 31% less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than non-dog owners.

Learn more about what the research shows.

Move more, stress less.

Interacting with dogs can boost your production of “happy hormones” such as oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. This can lead to a greater sense of well-being and help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And having a dog can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, ease depression and improve fitness.

Studies show that people who walk their dogs get significantly more exercise than those who don’t. And there’s a bonus: our pets can also help us feel less social anxiety and interact more with other humans. Maybe that’s why dog owners report less loneliness, depression and social isolation.

Make the most of dog ownership.

Here are some tips to make the most of your four-legged companion time:

  • Playing and interacting with your pooch will bring the most health benefits for both of you.
  • Get out with your pet. Not only are the walks good for both of you, you may find yourself meeting other dog owners in your area. And socializing can be a good thing!
  • Some dogs love to travel. Research pet-friendly hotels so you and your furry friend can have all sorts of adventures together.
  • Everybody loves a good snuggle. Give lots of scratches behind the ears, belly rubs or good old-fashioned head pats. The more you love your pet, the more they’ll love you back.

\Source:

Dog ownership associated with longer life, especially among heart attack and stroke survivors, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes Journal Report, October 2019

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The second is also very recent, about the findings from Sweden.

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Here’s more evidence your dog might lengthen your life

By American Heart Association News

(filadendron/E+, Getty Images)

Letting your health go to the dogs might turn out to be a great idea: New research bolsters the association between dog ownership and longer life, especially for people who have had heart attacks or strokes.

Earlier studies have shown dog ownership alleviates social isolation, improves physical activity and lowers blood pressure. The new work builds on that, said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, who led a committee that wrote a 2013 report about pet ownership for the American Heart Association.

“While these non-randomized studies cannot prove that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this,” he said in a news release.

The two new studies were published Tuesday in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

One study, from Sweden, compared dog owners and non-owners after a heart attack or stroke. Records of nearly 182,000 people who’d had heart attacks and nearly 155,000 people who’d had strokes were examined. Dog ownership was confirmed with data from the Swedish Board of Agriculture, where registration of dog ownership has been mandatory since 2001, and the Swedish Kennel Club, where pedigree dogs have been registered since 1889.

When compared with people who didn’t own dogs, owners who lived alone had a 33% lower risk of dying after being hospitalized for a heart attack. For dog owners who lived with a partner or child, the risk was 15% lower.

Dog-owning stroke survivors saw a similar benefit. The risk of death after hospitalization for those who lived alone was 27% lower. It was 12% lower if they lived with a partner or child.

What’s behind the canine advantage?

“We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death,” said study co-author Dr. Tove Fall, a doctor of veterinary medicine and a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden. “Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people. Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health.”

The second set of researchers reviewed patient data from more than 3.8 million people in 10 separate studies.

Compared to non-owners, dog owners had a 24% reduced risk of dying from any cause; a 31% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular-related issues; and a 65% reduced risk dying after a heart attack.

The study did not account for factors such as better fitness or an overall healthier lifestyle that could be associated with dog ownership, said co-author Dr. Caroline Kramer, an endocrinologist and clinician scientist at Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “The results, however, were very positive.”

As a dog owner herself, Kramer said adopting her miniature Schnauzer, Romeo, “increased my steps and physical activity each day, and he has filled my daily routine with joy and unconditional love.”

Tove, however, cautioned more research needs to be done before people are prescribed dogs for health reasons. “Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be acquired by people who feel they have the capacity and knowledge to give the pet a good life.”

If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org.

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Case made; hook, line and sinker!

The treasure that is a pit bull

This is the true nature of this breed.

Pit Bulls have such a bad reputation. But in our experience if they are cared for and loved and not used for fighting then they are great dogs.

No better illustrated than by this story that appeared on The Dodo website.

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Dog Refuses To Leave Mom’s Hospital Room After Saving Her Life

SUCH a good girl 👏🐕💕
BY

PUBLISHED ON 10/10/2019

When Shauna Darcy first brought Ruby home, the plan was to have Ruby act as a service dog to help her with anxiety, depression and agoraphobia. Ruby was an incredible service dog and companion from the very beginning — and quickly showed Darcy just how far she would go to help her.

Shauna Darcy

“While she was training to be a service dog I noticed that she started picking up on changes in my heart rate and would act funny — for example, paw at me, try to get my attention, get on top of me, etc.,” Darcy told The Dodo.

Picking up on Ruby’s cues, Darcy went to the doctor and discovered she had health issues she hadn’t known about, including a rare heart condition called vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Ruby had known something was wrong even before Darcy did, and her main focus as a service dog quickly switched to Darcy’s cardiac issues.

 

Shauna Darcy

Every day, Ruby helps her mom with things like monitoring her heart rate and blood pressure, helping her during panic attacks and retrieving emergency medications. She also carries groceries, picks up dropped items and gets things her mom can’t reach, and is trained in deep pressure therapy.

“When I pass out she gets on top of me and applies all her pressure on me and licks my hands and face until I come around,” Darcy said.

Shauna Darcy

Ruby is there for her mom every single day — even when she doesn’t realize she needs her.

Last week, when Ruby started alerting her mom that something was wrong, she had no idea why. At that point, Darcy was feeling fine, but decided to trust Ruby and call an ambulance anyway, just in case.

“It turns out my heart was going into atrial fibrillation,” Darcy said. “By the time the paramedics came, I was in pain and barely conscious.”

Shauna Darcy

As the paramedics rushed Darcy to the hospital, she realized that Ruby had saved her life that day.

While Darcy was in the hospital and the doctors worked to get her stable again, Ruby refused to leave her mom’s side. Even while Darcy was unconscious, Ruby lay in her hospital bed, pressed up against her, hoping her mom could sense she was there and that her presence would make her feel safe.

Shauna Darcy

During their stay at the hospital, so many people stopped by to meet Ruby. She’s always very popular whenever she and her mom are at the hospital and loves saying hi to everyone — but also makes sure that she’s never too far away from her mom. She loves her so much, and her mom loves her just as much right back.

Shauna Darcy

Without Ruby, Darcy’s life would be very different. Ruby helps her mom stay healthy and safe every single day, and her mom is so grateful for everything she’s done for her.

“I wouldn’t be alive without her,” Darcy said.

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“I wouldn’t be alive without her,”

I’m emboldening that last statement.

This is a wonderful story.

For Darcy has articulated what millions of other dog lovers know in their hearts. That the relationship between a dog and a human is extra special!

Adopting a blind dog.

A coincidence!

I’m going to republish, albeit without formal permission to so do, a recent item on Mother Nature News. (I’m leaving out the photographs that were carried on the Mother Nature News article.)

Simply because when we stayed for the night at The Flute Shop, in Torrey, Utah, the owner had his own blind dog. I took the following photo of him but unfortunately we didn’t get his name!

But it does seem fitting to republish the article that appeared on MNN. If they object then the article will be removed forthwith!

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8 things to know when adopting a blind dog

MARY JO DILONARDO
October 2, 2019.

When I take a walk with that little fluff ball of a foster puppy above, we don’t get very far. It’s not because Galen is blind. It’s because everyone wants to stop and pet him because he’s so darn cute.

I’m fostering Galen for Speak! St. Louis, a rescue that specializes in blind and/or deaf dogs. He’s my second special needs foster puppy. My first, Whibbles Magoo, was blind and deaf, which was a little more challenging. Both of them are double merles. Merle is a beautiful mottled pattern in a dog’s coat. Some disreputable breeders will breed two merles together hoping to get merle puppies. Those puppies have a 25% chance of being double merle — which results in a predominantly white coat and usually means they have hearing or vision loss or both.

As I’ve been talking to potential adopters, there have been so many questions about how to prepare for a blind dog. It’s like getting ready for a sighted pup, but with a little extra special planning.

Create a safe zone

Whether your new blind pal is a puppy or an adult dog, you’ll want to make an area for him where he feels safe. It should be a place where he can’t hurt himself or anything in your home and where he feels comfortable. Some people gate off a room in their homes or use a pen and crate.

I work from home, so Galen has a metal exercise pen surrounding a crate in my office. He can sprawl out or play in his pen or sleep in his crate. He has toys and there’s plenty of room for him to do what he wants, but he can’t gnaw on baseboards or electrical cords. At night, I put him in the crate to sleep.

Blind-proof your home and yar

Look for any sharp edges or stairs where your pup could get into trouble. Install baby gates to block off rooms or staircases. A recent applicant climbed around her home on her hands and knees to see what perils might be at Galen’s level.

Consider using carpet runners and mats to define specific areas. At our house, there’s one at the back door, one near the kitchen and a runner that goes down the hallway to the office. When I recently cleaned the kitchen floor and picked up the mats, Galen stood frozen and confused in the room as if his world was turned upside-down. When I placed the mats back down, he raced around again, now that everything had returned to normal.

Similarly, make sure your yard doesn’t have any hazards and is securely fenced. If you have a pool, fountain or electrical outlets, be sure they are puppy-proofed with fences, gates or locks. Walk your dog on a leash for the first few days and stay nearby after that until you know he has the yard mapped. Once he does, you’ll be amazed at how deftly he will navigate. Galen zooms around the yard, avoiding bushes and fences, gleefully running at full speed.

Don’t redecorate

Resist the urge to move things around. Keep the things at dog eye-level where they are so as not to confuse your dog. Your pet will learn landmarks and maneuver around them, quickly learning the locations of doors, walls, furniture and anything that could potentially be in his way. Be careful about remembering to push in chairs or ottomans after using them so they don’t become new obstacles.

Work on training

It’s always smart to take training classes with a new dog, but especially important to work on training with a special-needs pup. It’s key that you have a strong bond, and working on games and commands is an excellent way to get there. One of the first commands to teach is “watch!” whenever your dog is about to get too close to something like a wall, a bush or even your legs. You’ll find that soon he’ll put on the brakes when you say it.

When a dog doesn’t have one sense, his other senses are often heightened. He may be really tuned in to smells so you might want to try playing games that use stinky treats to get his attention. (I use soft treats that I can cut up in small pieces like venison and even watermelon-flavored dog treats.) Using a snuffle mat is also a good way to serve meals because it works on your dog’s sense of smell. It’s a homemade toy that lets them use their noses to sniff for treats or their dinner.

A note on scents and devices

If you research blind dogs, you’ll find suggestions that you mark certain areas of your home with unique scents. Maybe the back door is marked with a drop of vanilla and your pet’s feeding area has a dash of peppermint. But your dog’s sense of smell is remarkable and he’ll be able to smell his water (and food!) and he’ll quickly figure out the back door and bed and toys. Everything already has its own special smell. One story I read suggested that an owner always wear the same body lotion or perfume, but as a rescue friend pointed out: We all have our own personal odor. Your dog isn’t going to get you confused with anyone else.

You will likely also hear about devices like halos — which are sturdy circular loops that hook onto a dog’s collar, encircling his head to keep him from bumping into things. Some people in the special-needs world say this keeps dogs from learning spacial recognition and some dogs just “freeze,” not wanting to move when this unwieldy device is attached to their heads.

I’ve found that Galen is actually pretty careful. He doesn’t go barreling full force in areas he doesn’t know. Occasionally when he’s playing hard with Brodie, he might lose his bearings and bump into the couch or forget that’s where the toybox is. But all puppies do that when they’re caught up in the heat of the moment. Dogs, and especially puppies, are incredibly resilient. He shakes it off and jumps back into the wrestling match.

But it all depends on the dog and the owner. If your dog is tentative in new places and doesn’t like to explore when he’s unsure, you may find that these aides help. You may decide that you like the idea of scent mapping and using a halo, but I’d suggest letting your dog figure it out by himself first.

If your dog has very limited vision, some vets suggests doggie sunglasses like Doggles. It helps with light sensitivity when they are out in bright sunlight. Plus, they can help protect your dog’s eyes if he bumps into things, and it just looks really cool. Like anything new — a collar, harness or even a leash — it will take a while for your dog to get used to wearing something new, so be patient.

Get ready to talk … a lot

Because your blind dog can’t see you, you’ll need to let him know where you are in different ways. The easiest way is by talking.

When we take a walk, Galen will bump into me every few feet to check in. He used to try to weave between my legs to keep track of me to make sure I was still there. My trainer friend suggested I carry a bell, but I found that it’s just as easy to keep up a running conversation with him. He seems to like it and has his ears constantly going back and forth as he’s listening to my reassuring stream of babble.

In addition to saying “watch!” I say “step up” and “step down” to navigate curbs. I tell people he is blind when they want to approach him and pet him so a strange hand doesn’t just come at him out of the blue. Then when he hears someone cooing to him, his tail and his whole rear ends starts wagging with joy.

Even if you’re not a chatty person, you’ll likely find yourself talking more with a blind dog in the house. When you leave the room, it’s a good idea to call out to your four-legged pal so he knows where you went. I’ve found that Galen listens much more intently to me than Brodie, who has definitely learned to tune me out unless I’m saying something about treats or dinner.

You might want to leave on some music or the TV for your blind dog when you’re not home. Also, try squeaky toys that make noise. In our house, the louder the toy, the more enticing it is

Size up your pets

If you have other pets in your home, consider their personalities and how accepting they’ll be to a new blind family member. My long-suffering dog Brodie doesn’t love that we have a parade of foster puppies in and out of the house, but he tolerates them with incredible patience.

A blind dog can’t pick up on warning signs like pinned-back ears from a fellow canine or a twitching cat tail that mean it’s a good idea to back off. How would your current pet feel if a blind dog bumps into him or stumbles upon his favorite toy or food dish? If he’s snapped at in those situations, a sight-impaired pup won’t have any idea what he did wrong.

Even if you have a laid-back pet, always keep an eye on him around your new addition. It can take a few weeks for everybody to figure out their spot in the family.

If you aren’t sure if your pets or your family are a good fit for a blind dog, check with a trainer or a vet you respect.

Be patient

Sometimes, you’ll have to count to 10. For me, the laces of my new sneakers were mistaken for a chew toy and have lost their fancy tips. Searching for me in the yard, Galen came racing at me mouth open and collided with my shins, leaving a puppy-tooth puncture wound. He’s afraid to walk down stairs (imagine how scary it must be to take that step into nothingness) so I’m still carrying all 18 pounds of him down the steps many times each day. It’s a great workout but not so great for my lower back.

But man, is he awesome. I’m amazed every day how happy he is and how much he loves everything and everyone. Squeaky toy! Person! Snuggle! Grass! Just because he can’t see something doesn’t mean he doesn’t adore it. When you add a blind dog to your life, you’ll be amazed at how much it opens your eyes to the wonder in the world.

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This was an excellent article, not only for blind dogs but also for the partially-sighted. So much better to care for them than the alternative!

This is perfect!

A fabulous elephant story!

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Wild Elephant Brings Her Newborn To Meet The People Who Saved He

Such an incredible moment ❤️️

BY

PUBLISHED ON 09/13/2019
To Loijuk the elephant, nothing is more important than family — especially now that she is starting one of her own.
In 2006, the orphaned elephant was found all alone at only 5 months old, and was rescued by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) in Kenya. She was hand-raised by SWT until she was old enough to return to the wild.
Years have passed, but Loijuk still has a close bond with her human family. She returns to the grounds of the sanctuary every month to visit. But in September, Loijuk surprised her former caretakers with a newborn elephant calf in tow.

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

It was clear the proud elephant mom couldn’t wait to show off her baby. The calf, who has since been named Lili, was only hours old — likely born only the night before.

Loijuk has never forgotten the kindness of those who helped her. She even invited Benjamin Kyalo, the head keeper, to have a special moment with her newborn calf.

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

“Benjamin was able to get close to Lili (who nestled into his legs), stroke her delicate newborn skin and breathe into her trunk, thereby letting her know who he was via his scent,” Rob Brandford, executive director of SWT, told The Dodo. “Elephants have an incredible memory and sense of smell and our keepers will often breathe into the orphans’ trunks so they can recognize who they are.”

You can watch a video of Loijuk and Lili’s touching visit here:

Lili was quite wobbly on her feet during the meeting, but over the course of the week, Kyalo watched as she got stronger and stronger.

“Loijuk has stayed close to the area around the unit, allowing our keepers to watch over her and check how she’s getting on,” Brandford said. “Considering September is the peak of the dry season in Tsavo, not the most favorable of conditions for a new baby, we are delighted that Loijuk has returned close to home so that we can help supplement her diet when she visits.”

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

In the wild, calves are raised with the help of female relatives within the herd. Loijuk has played nanny to other babies before giving birth to Lili, and now her calf has nannies of her very own — two other wild orphans named Naserian and Ithumbah.

Lili will remain with her mom’s herd in the wild for life, and if she is ever in need, she now knows there is a safe place she can always return to.

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Lili is the 31st calf born to female orphaned elephants raised by SWT now living wild, and she is a beacon of hope for threatened elephant populations everywhere.

“Moments like these are momentous,” Brandford said. “In saving one orphaned elephant’s life, we are not only seeing that orphan thrive but start a family.”

“Lili has a brighter future ahead of her than many elephants,” Brandford added, “and we look forward to watching this little girl grow up in the wild.”

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Absolutely wonderful!