Category: People and their pets

Looking for a dog?

A recent article on Mother Nature News is a great reference.

The article appeared on March 16th. But rather than cover all nine breeds in a single day I am going to start with one breed today and then follow on at a steady pace.

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9 of the easiest dogs to add to your family

By: Mary Jo DiLonardo on March 16, 2019

No-hassle breeds

Some dogs are a lot of work. Maybe they’re psychologically challenging and require a lot of training because they are stubborn or just need to be learning all the time. Others are physically demanding because they need a ton of exercise or an inordinate amount of grooming.

If you’re looking for a more hassle-free pup, there are certain breeds that might be appealing. Here’s a look at some dogs that may be easier to own — and keep in mind that we’re talking about breed traits to look for. (We stick by our mantra that rescue dogs are the best dogs.) Every dog is different, but when you’re thinking of adding a pet to your family, you may want to look for some of this DNA in the mix.

1. Labrador retriever

There’s a reason the Labrador retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the U.S. for more than two dozen years, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). The breed is “famously friendly” and is good around people and other dogs. With their easygoing personality, Labs tend to bond with all members of the family.
These sweet and kind dogs come in three colors: yellow, black and chocolate. They are sturdy, medium sized and relatively easy to train. But they do have a lot of energy so they require lots of exercise like long, daily games of fetch.

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I will stay with this theme, off and on, over the next couple of weeks.

A dog food advisory.

This came in late yesterday.

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Dear Fellow Dog Lover,

Because you signed up on our website and asked to be notified, I’m sending you this special recall alert. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of this message.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition is expanding its recall of specific lots of its Prescription Diet and Science Diet dog foods due to elevated levels of vitamin D.

Very high levels of vitamin D can lead to serious health issues in dogs, including kidney dysfunction.

To learn which products are affected, please visit the following link:

Hill’s Prescription Diet and Science Diet Dog Food Recall Expands

Please share the news of this alert with other pet owners.

Mike Sagman, Editor
The Dog Food Advisor

If one then follows up that link then you will see this:

Hill’s Prescription Diet and Science Diet Dog Food Recall Expands

March 20, 2019 — Hill’s Pet Nutrition is expanding its voluntary recall of canned dog food products due to elevated levels of vitamin D.

This recall expansion relates to the same vitamin premix that led to the January 31 voluntary recall previously announced on The Dog Food Advisor website.

Vitamin D, when consumed at very high levels, can lead to serious health issues in dogs including kidney dysfunction.

What’s Recalled?

The following products and lot numbers are affected by the recall.

Items marked in blue are new SKUs that were added to the list on March 20, 2019.

About Excessive Levels of Vitamin D

While vitamin D is an essential nutrient for dogs, ingestion of elevated levels can lead to potential health issues depending on the level of vitamin D and the length of exposure.

Dogs may exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss.

Pet parents with dogs who have consumed any of the products listed and are exhibiting any of these signs should contact their veterinarian.

In most cases, complete recovery is expected after discontinuation of feeding.

What to Do?

If your SKU, Date and Lot codes are found in the list above, you have an affected product.

You should stop feeding it and should return to the place of purchase for a full refund.

If you have questions, you may contact Hill’s Consumer Affairs at 800-445-5777.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to https://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

Get Dog Food Recall Alerts by Email

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Dog Food Advisor’s emergency recall notification system.

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Hopefully, there are not people that are affected by this alert. But, nonetheless, it needs promulgating.

Living harmoniously together!

Another guest post from Emily Parker.

I can’t believe that the last time we had a post from Emily was back in July, 2016.

You may not recall but Emily’s background is a cat parent to 2 lovely cats, Gus and Louis “Gus only has one eye, but we love him all the same!”. She has lived with dogs in the past and can’t wait to add a dog to the family again. She writes about all things cats at her blog, Catological.com.

OK, that’s enough from me.

Here is Emily’s guest post.

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Adapting and Overcoming Stereotypes: How Dogs and Cats Can Live Harmoniously Together

By Emily Parker, Catological.com

For a dog and a cat to live harmoniously in one home is a goal that many pet owners want to achieve. Before this happens, some variables need to be considered to make a good relationship between pets work.

As the pet parent, it’s important to be in tune with the tendencies and personalities of your pre-existing pet, be it a dog or a cat, and the inclinations of your new pet if you want them to live harmoniously together.

Personality is More Important than Breed

While most people pay attention to the breeds of dogs and cats when it comes to the aspect of getting along, experts argue that taking their energy and personalities into account is more important. For example, if you already have a dog that’s known for its aggressive ways don’t adopt a skittish cat. In a similar manner, an aging dog may not enjoy living in one household with a lively and playful kitten who is always interrupting the peace.

If you already have pets whose personalities don’t match, this is where your backup plan should be used. You should set up a living arrangement wherein they are separated as much as possible, while providing them each with as much loving attention as possible.

If you’re adopting a new pet, do your research and ask the caretakers if it has lived with other pets before or if the pet has a hard time getting along with others.

Give a Cat its Own Space Before Introducing it to the Dog

While most dogs are quite extroverted animals, cats need space – something that they can call their own. It’s just their nature, and you should respect that. Make sure that you provide a space that your dog won’t be allowed to navigate, so your cat can confidently mind her own business without triggering a fight with her canine brother.

Cats are natural climbers, so it should be easy to take advantage of your home’s vertical space. Prepare a cat bed atop a shelf or a bookcase, or install a cat tree that your dog can’t reach. This will allow your cat to observe your dog from across a room or from a distance.

Make sure the cat’s litter box is away from the dog, too. Cats have long been observed to hide while doing their business, and there’s also the tendency of dogs to chew on cat poo that you should be concerned about.

You can install baby gates if you must – just make sure to do everything in your power to keep a dog away from a pooping cat!

Make Sure Your Dog Has Plenty of Physical and Mental Exercise

It’s important for dogs to have their energy released someplace else other than your home so they can slow their brains down and practice restraint whenever they’re around your cat.

These are creatures that require a lot of stimulation; otherwise, they might end up chasing the cat. To prevent this from happening, practice high-intensity trick training, lure coursing, or herding-type activities with your dog.

Don’t settle for just walking, if you can help it. You can do a sit several times on each block and do direction changes now and then. You can also practice speed changes.

Dogs should be able to let go of their herding instincts around cats, and you can help them achieve this by ensuring that your pet is always active, both in mind and in body.

Should you lack time for these activities, you can always enroll your dog in daycare or hire a dog walker instead.

Allow Your Pets to Follow Their Noses

Before introducing the dog and the cat to each other, allow them to sniff each other’s toys or beddings first.

This will satisfy their curiosity as to who the other pet is in the house, and serve as an introduction. It can also prevent turf wars in the future.

While your new pet is safely tucked away in a spare room, rub him down with a clean towel, and then present it to your existing pet to sniff, and vice versa.

Plan the First Meeting Properly

As with most humans, first impressions count, so make sure it all turns out well for the dog and the cat.

After you’ve introduced scents, you can have a visual meeting, preferably behind the safety of a baby gate or most-closed door.

After they’ve been able to smell and see each other a few times, it’s time for the main event.

Your cat should always have a clear escape route during this meeting, and you should not force the issue. If possible, take control of your dog without being aggressive about it, to ensure that he doesn’t chase the cat.

You may have to do this multiple times before everyone is comfortable with each other, always making sure you praise your dog for calm behavior, while ensuring the cat isn’t forced into a meeting from which she has no escape.

When it comes to food, the choice you make may depend on how well the two pets get along together, though I’d recommend having meal time in separate places or times if possible.

Separate Each Other’s Toys and Food

Always keep your pets’ separate. Some cats are known to be nonchalant with the company of an eating dog, even walking around the dog while he’s eating to try to eat from the bowl. Many dogs will allow this, but don’t be so sure on your pet. Don’t assume that your dog won’t get overprotective with his food bowl. (Not to mention dog food is not appropriate for cats to eat.) You can prevent mealtime wars by scheduling regular mealtimes and place the bowls in separate parts of the house.
While some pets won’t make an issue of this, you can give yourself the best chance of a peaceful home by making sure their toys don’t get mixed up. Competition over toys can start a fight. Some dogs have taken into catnip as well. So always segregate.

Consider Raising a Cat and Dog Together

Compared to introducing them to each other as adults, it’s easier if each pet meets each other at a young age

Puppies are typically easier to train than adult dogs who have become set in their ways, and they can be taught to not harm a kitten or just to leave it to its own devices. Kittens are incredibly curious and playful, and will associate the dog as a friend and will get used to its company as she grows into a mature cat.

But then again, it never hurts to be cautious!

At the end of the day, your duty as a pet parent is to keep watch over your pets and make sure they’re well fed and safe within your home. With proper guidance, training, and a whole lot of patience, it’s not impossible for a dog and cat to live together peacefully.

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Now I took the following picture from another blog and when you visit that page you can read another account of cats and dogs living together.

But I will close with that image because it is so perfect!

This is the essence of the man-dog relationship

A recent story from The Dodo.

This is so good. As good as it gets. It’s the account of a man and his dog who don’t have second thoughts in rescuing two elderly Labradors.

But let the story speak for itself.

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Man And His Dog Leap Into Water To Save Pups Trapped In Icy Lake

“I knew she was going to follow me. We were going to do it together.”

PUBLISHED ON 03/14/2019

Since meeting one another last year, Timofey Yuriev and his faithful dog Kira have been inseparable companions. Indeed, the happy duo do just about everything together.

And that includes saving lives.

Photo Credit: Timofey Yuriev

Last Saturday, Yuriev, his wife and Kira headed out for a sunset stroll around an ice-covered lake near their home in New York. It’s a tranquil spot, but on this chilly early evening, the quiet, peaceful air was shattered by the sound of a tragedy unfolding.

“We heard a woman screaming something across the lake, so we went to see what was happening,” Yuriev told The Dodo. “Her two old Labradors were crossing the lake, when they got to a spot where the ice is much thinner. One fell in, then the second. They tried to climb out but they couldn’t.”

Photo Credit: Timofey Yuriev

Yuriev watched as the dogs’ energy was quickly sapped by the freezing water — and he knew time was of the essence.

Having experience swimming in icy waters, Yuriev decided to take the plunge in order to save the two dogs himself — but he was not alone.

After Yuriev undressed and leapt into the freezing lake, he looked and saw Kira by his side entering the water as well to lend him her paw in the rescue effort.

“I knew she was going to follow me,” Yuriev said. “We were going to do it together.”

Here’s video taken by Yuriev’s wife showing him and Kira reaching the nearest dog first:

“She was great moral support; I was not alone,” Yuriev said. “There was my little helper.”

After leading the first dog safely to the shore, Yuriev and Kira headed out for the second:

“She came to each dog and touched them with her nose, then helped guide them back.”

Once back on dry land, both of the rescued dogs were frazzled but in good health.

Yuriev and Kira had saved the day.

“The owner, of course, was in tears,” Yuriev said. “She was so thankful.”

Photo Credit: Timofey Yuriev

Kira has always been a kindhearted and intelligent dog, able to assess situations and sense when she’s needed.

And on this day, it was clear for all to see.

Timofey Yuriev

“We told her that she’s a dog-saving dog. I’m sure she understood that something was happening. She could see the dogs were in distress. I’m positive about it,” Yuriev said, adding that he’s just happy they were able to help.

“It was pure luck that we were at that place at that time. It was like the universe smiled at us.”

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This is a glorious post that was taken from here.

I have said it before and no doubt I shall repeat this many times more: Dogs are the most special creature going!

A dog poem for you!

A beautiful poem and a guest post at that!

This poem arrived during the last two days.

I have real pleasure in posting it!

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A DOG CONNECTION POEM FROM THE HEART

We can learn so much from our dogs. I have written about it and we can feel it. So many of us are lucky enough live with that special dog connection. They can help us through hard times and we feel like our dogs came into our lives for a reason. Here is a little poem dedicated to Jesse.

Ode To My Dog

Jesse- Yellow Labrador, 12 years old

My dog and I have a connection like no other. Unconditional love. She is my shadow and winks at me as I talk to her from above.

Although she is deaf, she knows what I am saying, and wags her tail around. She remembers my voice and can hear it in her head while her tail is pounding on the ground.

My dog is getting older although she still has a youthful mind. Her body tries to keep up when she asks me to throw the ball for her to find.

Even though Dogs only live on Earth about a decade or so. The work they do while they are here will stay with us after they go.

So hold them tight, treat them right and give them your attention while they are here. You never know when the time is up and it’s their last year.

I cherish the moments I have with my furry soul mate and I am excited to see her everyday. To spend time with her and show her love because she can’t hear what I say.

Dogs come into our lives for a reason and that reason is love. To guide us and teach us those important lessons we need to learn from above.

Everyday with your dog is a blessing. Take time to feel the positive influence and give them a great life. You are here for each other not only on Earth but in the afterlife.

The Dog Connection~

Dog Bless!

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As Holli so aptly says, “So many of us are lucky enough to live with that special dog connection.”

They are the most precious animals of all!

Aren’t they just wonderful!

I’m speaking about dogs!

I am indebted to The Dodo for this next item.

Recently discovered it has a wealth of wonderful stories about animals.

So, I am happy to share this with you.

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Lonely Dog Gets To Go To Shelter To Pick Out Her Very Own Playmate

“I swear, she totally had a smile on her face the whole ride home!”

By  03/01/2019

Liza was born in a shelter after her mother was abandoned on the streets while she was pregnant. Both the mama and all of her puppies were very sick at first, and it was an uphill battle to get them all to a point where they were healthy and thriving. Finally, when she was 13 weeks old, Liza was adopted by Debi Kolak and her other dog Mona, and Liza and Mona quickly became the best of friends.

For two years, Mona and Liza did absolutely everything together — until Mona passed away suddenly this past fall, leaving poor Liza completely heartbroken.

Mona and Liza |

Kolak could see that poor Liza was clearly very lonely without Mona, so when she moved in with her boyfriend and his two senior Jack Russell terriers in December, she hoped that the company of other dogs would help to cheer Liza up. Unfortunately, though, the two terriers weren’t huge fans of Liza, as she was too energetic and playful for them, and so Liza was still left without anyone to play with. Kolak discussed the possibility of adopting a playmate for Liza with her boyfriend, but he was skeptical that they could handle a fourth dog, and therefore put off the idea.

Debi Kolak

Despite her boyfriend’s hesitations, Kolak began researching different animal shelters in the area until she found one that had some dogs up for adoption who seemed like they could be good matches for Liza. She took Liza with her to the shelter and talked to the volunteers there about the kind of dog they were looking for. They showed her a few different dogs — and one of them was Murphy.

Murphy was one of the shelter’s longest residents, and had been there for five months. He was found as a stray, and during his time at the shelter had been adopted by three different families and returned every time. He seemed so defeated, and didn’t strike Kolak as the kind of dog that she and Liza were looking for. Liza needed an active, cheerful playmate, and when she first met him in his kennel, Murphy seemed to be anything but that.

Debi Kolak

A dog licking you?

A guest post from David Huner.

Here is a guest post. It’s about the reasons that dogs lick us.

Enjoy!

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What Does It Mean When Dog Licks You?

Eight Possible Answers to This Question

By David Huner

You may think that when your dog is licking you, he’s basically giving you a kiss. But, not all zoologists would agree.

Sure, it’s proven that licking releases endorphins in dogs in basically the same manner kissing releases endorphins in humans. However, getting high on the happiness hormone is not the only reason why dogs do it. Sometimes, dog licks can have many other meanings.

Your dog can’t talk to you, but you can be sure that he’d like to. This is why he has to use other methods to communicate with you. And one of those methods is through licking. The big question is what kind of message he’s trying to send?

Well, there are many potential answers to this question, but whether they’re right depends on the circumstances. In order to be able to figure out what your dog is saying, you better take a look at 8 most common scenarios.

Here are 8 Potential Reasons Why Your Dog is Licking You

1. He’s Just Saying Hello
In most cases, dog licks mean nothing other than saying hello. As he can’t express himself with words, to say hello, he’s got two options before him. The first one is to bark, which can be loud and scary. The second is to give you a gentle lick on the hand.

2. He’s Saying He’s Hungry
Another very plausible scenario is that your dog is politely asking for more food. Actually, whenever you notice that he’s behaving strange, the chances are that his behavior has something to do with food.
After all, food is one of the most important things in the world of dogs.

3. You Taste Delicious
Humans have 6 million olfactory receptors in the nose, which are responsible for picking up smells. Dogs, on the other hand, have 300 million such receptors, which makes their sense of smell 50 times better.

So, even if you’ve washed your hands thoroughly after lunch, your dog is probably going to know what you had just by sniffing your fingers. And if you ate some really awesome food for lunch, he might decide to give it a taste by licking your hand. The one that was in touch with the food, glorious food.

But, even if you were nowhere near any food, it doesn’t mean that your hand doesn’t make him hungry.
No, he doesn’t want to eat your arm off, he wants to lick it as there might be some sweat on it. Sweat is salty, so licking your hand is like eating chips for him.

4. He’s Saying Everything’s Alright
It’s been more than 15,000 years since dogs were domesticated. And for most of that time, the role of the dogs in human society was to provide protection. Essentially, all dogs are guard dogs, even those tiny ones like Chihuahuas.

No matter the breed, you can be sure your dog would give his life to protect you. Hopefully, he won’t ever get in a need to prove his courage, but this doesn’t mean he can fight his nature. He’s always on a watch and in order to tell you he’s got everything under control, he will give you a lick.

5. He’s Saying Not Everything is Alright
Sometimes, the reason why dogs lick their owners is that they feel sad or hurt. In most cases, the reason is emotional – they might feel bored, alone, or miss hanging out with other dogs.
However, sometimes the reason is that they’re feeling physical pain. Because licking releases endorphins that make them feel euphoric, by doing it they can forget about the pain.

6. He’s Being Your Personal Physician
There are certain enzymes in dog saliva that kill off bacteria, while also promoting a faster wound healing. This is why you can often see dogs vigorously licking their wounds or hot spots they might have on their skin.
For the same reason, he might decide to give you a lick or two. Even if there are no visible blisters or wounds on your skin, your dog could still decide that it’s best that his favorite human remains germ-free.

7. He’s Grooming You
Sure, your dog doesn’t have OCD when it comes to cleanliness, but this doesn’t mean dogs are dirty. On the contrary, dogs take really good care of their hygiene. Licking their fur is one of the ways of ensuring it stays clean and beautiful.
Another reason why they lick their fur is that it makes them feel calm and happy. If your dog notices that you’re feeling distressed, he might decide to try to calm down your nerves by grooming you a bit. And he’s gonna do it by licking your hand.

8. He Just Has No Other Business
Sometimes dogs decide to start licking their owners because they got nothing else to do. If he’s feeling bored, he could try to engage you by giving your hand a lick. A single lick could prove to be the first step in an hours’ long play between him and you.

Is Licking Good For You?
It surely is good for your dog, but what about you? Is dog saliva healthy or dangerous for human health?
Well, the answer is a bit complicated. Although it’s true that dog saliva kills off some germs, it’s a fact that some germs live freely in that environment. And if they get into your body, they can cause all sorts of problems.

Playing it safe seems like the best advice you can get. Preventing dog saliva from getting into your mouth is crucial. Germs can’t get in your system through thick layers of skin, but they can get in your body through your mouth.

This is why you should never let the dog lick your face. You also need to wash your hands every time you finish playing with your dog, so that you wouldn’t get germs on your food. And you need to wash your hands thoroughly, by which we mean to rub them vigorously and use anti-bacterial soap.

Author Bio:

David Huner is the founder of the pettrainingtip, where he and his team provides all necessary information related to pet care, supplies, health and even more. His team also always doing research on new pet related article topics to cover information from all bases including training tips.

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Victoria Stillwell has a piece on dog-licking. It only adds to the article that David wrote by including the fact that a mother dog licks her newborn puppies.

Why is the dog licking?  Right from birth that is how the mother communicates with her new puppies, how she stimulates them to start breathing and how she cleans them when they are born, so it’s very important to the survival of puppies.  In the wild and in domestic dogs, you’ll find they will lick around the mother’s mouth as newborns and puppies still retain that instinct.  It’s also sort of a submissive gesture — the more subordinate members of a pack will lick the more dominant members and that’s important in maintaining pack harmony.

Dogs also lick because they like the taste of an owner’s salty skin and out of habit.  Mostly, with domestic dogs, it’s a sign of affection.

Licking releases pleasurable endorphins which gives dogs a feeling of comfort and pleasure — like the feeling people get when they are biting their nails — it relieves stress.  If your dog’s licking is purely a sign of affection, one way to decrease this is to ignore the licking. Licking never gets attention.  If  your dog licks you, then you immediately stand up and walk into another room. You want to teach your dog that licking means the person will leave the room.  When you pet your dog, if he starts to lick, the petting stops and you walk away. With repetition the licking will stop.

If a dog is chronically licking himself, it can be because he is bored, anxious, has skin problems such as allergies, or could be feeling pain either in their paws or elsewhere in their bodies. You should make sure your dog is getting enough stimulation and rule out any infections or allergies by visiting your vet.

Let me know if you found this guest article interesting.

This is really great news!

Reproduced in full from the BBC.

There are so many times when a loving dog just has to do what it has to do.

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Camp Fire: Dog missing from Paradise wildfire found after 101 days

21 February 2019

Kingston is believed to have survived by hunting skunks

A dog called Kingston has been reunited with his owners 101 days after he went missing during the deadliest wildfire in California’s history.

The Ballejos family last saw Kingston, an Akita, during the devastating Camp Fire in November.

Kingston, who is 12 years old, had jumped out of their truck as they fled their home in Paradise.

A local animal rescue volunteer caught Kingston on Sunday, and the family believe he survived by hunting skunks.

About 18,000 homes were destroyed and 86 people killed after the Camp Fire broke out and spread rapidly on 8 November north-east of San Francisco.

“When I found out, [it] just about brought me to tears,” Gabriel Ballejos told Associated Press (AP) after being reunited with his dog. “I’m so proud of him. I can’t believe it. He’s a true survivor.”

The family posted flyers and contacted shelters in the hope Kingston would be found. He was eventually recognised by someone who saw a post online.

Over the weekend, animal rescue volunteers spotted a large dog on surveillance cameras before setting up a trap to secure Kingston.

“When I went to check [the trap] on Sunday, there he was,” local dog-trapper Ben Lepe told AP. “It was awesome to see him and know he would be fed and warm.”

Kingston, who the family say was known to hunt skunks before the fire, smelled so strongly of the pungent odour that volunteers spent several hours washing him before reuniting him with the Ballejos family.

“He still smelled even though they used stuff that neutralises the skunk smell,” Suzanne Maxwell, a local resident and volunteer for Friends of Camp Fire Cats, told the BBC.

She described a “heart-warming” reunion between Kingston and his family.

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I bet that heart-warming doesn’t do it justice!

Dogs and pets are really good for our health.

A return to a subject of concern to all us humans.

A little under three weeks ago I posted an item Why dogs are so good for us. It was well-received.

Thus another article that I came across on Mother Nature Network recently seems to make good sense; you be the judge!

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Pets are good for your health, and we have the studies to prove it.

By SIDNEY STEVENS
April 6, 2018.

Pets strengthen our hearts, calm our nerves and a whole lot more. (Photo: Kotkot32/Shutterstock)

If you have pets you already know the joy and love they bring to your life. Now science is confirming just how good they really are for you — both mentally and physically.

How do they help? One theory is that pets boost our oxytocin levels. Also known as the “bonding hormone” or “cuddle chemical,” oxytocin enhances social skills, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, boosts immune function and raises tolerance for pain. It also lowers stress, anger and depression.

No surprise then that keeping regular company with a dog or cat (or another beloved beast) appears to offer all these same benefits and more. Read on to discover the many impressive ways a pet can make you healthier, happier and more resilient.

1. Pets help you live longer, healthier lives

Having a dog is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes, according to a 2017 study that followed 3.4 million people in Sweden. Researchers studied men and women between the ages of 40 and 80 and followed their health records (and whether they owned a dog) for about a dozen years. The study found that for people who lived alone, owning a dog can decrease their risk of death by 33 percent and their risk of cardiovascular-related death by 36 percent, compared to single people without a pet. Chances of having a heart attack were also 11 percent lower.

2. Pets alleviate allergies and boost immune function

One of your immune system’s jobs is to identify potentially harmful substances and unleash antibodies to ward off the threat. But sometimes it overreacts and misidentifies harmless stuff as dangerous, causing an allergic reaction. Think red eyes, itchy skin, runny nose and wheezing.

You’d think that having pets might trigger allergies by kicking up sneeze-and-wheeze-inducing dander and fur. But it turns out that living with a dog or cat during the first year of life not only cuts your chances of having pet allergies in childhood and later on but also lowers your risk of asthma. A new 2017 study found that newborns who live with cats have a lower risk of childhood asthma, pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

Living with a pet as a child also revs up your immune system. In fact, just a brief pet encounter can invigorate your disease-defense system. In one study, petting a dog for only 18 minutes raised immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in college students’ saliva, a sign of robust immune function.

There’s even some new research that suggests links between the microbes pets bring into our home and the beneficial ones that live in our digestive tract. “Exposure to animal bacteria may trigger bacteria in our gut to change how they metabolize the neurotransmitters that have an impact on mood and other mental functions,” Jack Gilbert, the director of the Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago, told the New York Times. Gilbert is coauthor of a study that found Amish children have lower rates of asthma because they grow up with livestock and the bacteria they host. Gilbert cautions that studies about how pet microbes might affect human gut bacteria is still in early stages.

3. Pets up your fitness quotient

This one applies more to dog owners. If you like walking with your favorite canine, chances are you’re fitter and trimmer than your non-dog-walking counterparts and come closer to meeting recommended physical activity levels. One study of more than 2,000 adults found that regular dog walkers got more exercise and were less likely to be obese than those who didn’t walk a dog. In another study, older dog walkers (ages 71-82) walked faster and longer than non-pooch-walkers, plus they were more mobile at home.

Dog owners who take their canine companions on walks tend to be trimmer and fitter than their fellow dog-less peers. (Photo: AMatveev/Shutterstock)

4. Pets dial down stress

When stress comes your way, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, releasing hormones like cortisol to crank out more energy-boosting blood sugar and epinephrine to get your heart and blood pumping. All well and good for our ancestors who needed quick bursts of speed to dodge predatory saber-toothed tigers and stampeding mastodons. But when we live in a constant state of fight-or-flight from ongoing stress at work and the frenetic pace of modern life, these physical changes take their toll on our bodies, including raising our risk of heart disease and other dangerous conditions. Contact with pets seem to counteract this stress response by lowering stress hormones and heart rate. They also lower anxiety and fear levels (psychological responses to stress) and elevate feelings of calmness. Studies have found that dogs can help ease stress and loneliness for seniors, as well as help calm pre-exam stress for college students.

5. Pets boost heart health

Pets shower us with love so it’s not surprising they have a big impact on our love organ: the heart. Turns out time spent with a cherished critter is linked to better cardiovascular health, possibly due to the stress-busting effect mentioned above. Studies show that dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Dogs also benefit patients who already have cardiovascular disease. They’re not only four times more likely to be alive after a year if they own a dog, but they’re also more likely to survive a heart attack. And don’t worry, cat owners — feline affection confers a similar effect. One 10-year study found that current and former cat owners were 40 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack and 30 percent less likely to die of other cardiovascular diseases.

6. Make you a social — and date — magnet

Four-legged companions (particularly the canine variety that pull us out of the house for daily walks) help us make more friends and appear more approachable, trustworthy and date-worthy. In one study, people in wheelchairs who had a dog received more smiles and had more conversations with passersby than those without a dog. In another study, college students who were asked to watch videos of two psychotherapists (depicted once with a dog and once without) said they felt more positively toward them when they had a dog and more likely to disclose personal information. And good news for guys: research shows that women are more willing to give out their number to men with a canine buddy.

A dog can make you appear friendlier and more approachable to others. (Photo: CandyBox Images/Shutterstock)

7. Provide a social salve for Alzheimer’s patients

Just as non-human pals strengthen our social skills and connection, cats and dogs also offer furry, friendly comfort and social bonding to people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of brain-destroying dementia. Several canine caregiver programs now exist to assist at-home dementia patients with day-to-day tasks, such as fetching medication, reminding them to eat and guiding them home if they’ve wandered off course. Many assisted-living facilities also keep resident pets or offer therapy animal visits to support and stimulate patients. Studies show creature companions can reduce behavioral issues among dementia patients by boosting their moods and raising their nutritional intake.

8. Enhance social skills in kids with autism

One in nearly 70 American kids has autism (also known as autism spectrum disorder, or ASD), a developmental disability that makes it tough to communicate and interact socially. Not surprisingly, animals can also help these kids connect better to others. One study found that youngsters with ASD talked and laughed more, whined and cried less and were more social with peers when guinea pigs were present. A multitude of ASD animal-assisted therapy programs have sprung up in recent years, featuring everything from dogs and dolphins to alpacas, horses and even chickens.

Animal-assisted therapy helps kids with autism and other developmental disabilities learn social skills. (Photo: GoodDog Autism/flickr)

9. Dampen depression and boosts mood

Pets keep loneliness and isolation at bay and make us smile. In other words, their creature camaraderie and ability to keep us engaged in daily life (via endearing demands for food, attention and walks) are good recipes for warding off the blues. Research is ongoing, but animal-assisted therapy is proving particularly potent in deterring depression and other mood disorders. Studies show that everyone from older men in a veterans hospital who were exposed to an aviary filled with songbirds to depressed college students who spent time with dogs reported feeling more positive.

10. Defeat PTSD

People haunted by trauma like combat, assault and natural disasters are particularly vulnerable to a mental health condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sure enough, studies show that the unconditional love — and oxytocin boost — of a pet can help remedy the flashbacks, emotional numbness and angry outbursts linked to PTSD. Even better, there are now several programs that pair specially trained service dogs and cats with veterans suffering from PTSD.

11. Fight cancer

Animal-assisted therapy helps cancer patients heal emotionally and physically. Preliminary findings of a clinical trial by the American Humane Association shows that therapy dogs not only erase loneliness, depression and stress in kids fighting cancer, but canines can also motivate them to eat and follow treatment recommendations better — in other words participate more actively in their own healing. Likewise, new research reveals a similar lift in emotional well-being for adults undergoing the physical rigors of cancer treatment. Even more astounding, dogs (with their stellar smelling skills) are now being trained to literally sniff out cancer.

12. Put the kibosh on pain

Millions live with chronic pain, but animals can soothe some of it away. In one study, 34 percent of patients with the pain disorder fibromyalgia reported pain relief (and a better mood and less fatigue) after visiting for 10-15 minutes with a therapy dog compared to only 4 percent of patients who just sat in a waiting room. In another study, those who had undergone total joint replacement surgery needed 28 percent less pain medication after daily visits from a therapy dog than those who got no canine contact.

Editor’s note: This file has been updated since it was originally published in November 2015.

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Well there’s a list to take note of!

And speaking personally my Jeannie has Parkinson’s Disease. She was diagnosed in December 2015. She is doing really well; in part because of our diet (we are vegan), in part because of the Rock Steady class she attends two mornings a week, and in very large part because we have six very loving dogs.

Case made!

Wow! This is some story!

Incredible!

There are so many stories and articles about dogs that it’s easy to overlook some of them.

Take this recent story from BBC News, back on February 11th.

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‘Brain tumour’ dog in Beauly had 7cm needle in neck

Toby the Yorkshire terrier had seizure symptoms before owners knew he had a needle lodged in his neck.

A dog that showed signs of a brain tumour was found to have a 7cm (3in) needle lodged in its neck.

Toby, a 13-year-old Yorkshire terrier, was taken to a vet in Nairn in the Highlands after he suffered neck pain, struggled to walk and showed seizure symptoms.

X-rays later showed the needle had pierced his spinal cord.

But surgeons in Edinburgh were able to extract it and Toby went on to make a full recovery.

X-rays revealed the 7cm metal sewing needle piercing Toby’s spinal cord

Owner Alexander Jamieson, from Beauly, near Inverness, said: “We feel that without the help of the experts in Edinburgh, Toby would not be here today.

“The care and attention he got was out of this world and we are delighted to see him back to his old self.”

Toby was referred to the specialist surgical clinic at the University of Edinburgh’s Hospital for Small Animals at the Royal (Dick) School for Veterinary Studies where vets performed a CT scan to assess any major damage to his spinal cord in August 2018.

They found that the sewing needle – which still had thread attached – was dangerously close to his brain.

Toby has now recovered to the point where he is able to walk and run normally.

Vets are delighted with Toby’s recovery

It is not known how the needle ended up in Toby’s neck but vets suspect that he could have eaten it or laid his head on it.

Samantha Woods, senior lecturer, and Jessica McCarthy, senior clinical training scholar in small animal surgery, said they were delighted with Toby’s progress.

Ms Woods added: “We are really pleased to see Toby back to full health, thanks to the combined efforts of his vets and our specialist teams here in Edinburgh.”

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That was fantastic! All kudos to the whole team that swung into action.