(This update would have been brought to you much earlier this week had it not been for our internet problems.)
You will recall that it was a week ago that we took Hazel to see a specialist and I posted Hazel’s Probable Disease. That evening our vet friend, Jim, brought over a supply of Prednisone tablets with the instructions to stop the Fluconazole treatment and switch to Prednisone. We started at a dosage of one 20mg tablet every 12 hours.
Within twenty-four hours the Prednisone had stimulated a return of Hazel’s appetite and for the last seven days she has been eating very well. Plus she has regained an interest in the world around her and now comes out for walks with the other dogs.
Jim and I went for a short hike yesterday afternoon and we were discussing Hazel. Jim reminded me that while the lung pictures and the other evidence were pointing to it being cancer the actual tumour still hadn’t been found.
If there is no noticeable decline in, say, three or four weeks then it may not be cancer. Certainly, Jim said, if it is cancer then Hazel will not live out another three months.
With seventeen pets here at home Jean and I should live forever!
Another Saturday and another gentle post about the power of our wonderful pets. (Oh, and who, as I did, missed the fact that yesterday was not only a Friday the Thirteenth but the third one this year!)
Anyway, back to the plot!
Last Monday, Mother Nature Network published an item about how good pets are for our health. It seemed the perfect item to share with all of you this Saturday.
11 studies that prove pets are good for your health
Check out the ways your 4-legged friends enhance your physical and emotional health.
By: Sidney Stevens, November 9, 2015.
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 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 revs up your immune system and lowers your risk of eczema and asthma. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 time 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.
5. 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.
6. Provides 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.
7. Enhances 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.
8. Dampens 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.
9. Defeats 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.
10. Fights cancer
Animal-assisted therapy helps cancer patients heal emotionally and physically. Preliminary findings of an on-going 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.
11. Puts 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.
When I was setting this post up and copying across all the many links I was aware that there was a mountain of information out there. You may want to take some time and explore those links. For example, the link to HABRI- Human-Animal Research Initiative looks incredibly interesting. Then there was the link to the work being undertaken by the American Humane Association, that link being to this video that I am presenting here to close off today’s post.
Wherever you are in the world look after yourself and care for all those lovely pets out there. Love them so dearly!
Dogs watch us all the time and read our body language like a sixth sense.
A fascinating, and inspiring, insight into our favourite animal companion.
Published on Jan 26, 2014
Check out BBC Earth on BBC online
Dogs watch us all the time and read our body language like a sixth sense. They also smell our bodies for changes.
Max smelt cancer in Maureen before any medical scans could pick it up. Dogs do this naturally and can be trained to pick up on tiny volatile chemicals given off by cancerous tumors. They can even be taught to alert diabetics to low blood sugar levels.
This is Frankie, a German shepherd mix. He can sniff out thyroid cancer in patients’ urine samples with 88% accuracy, according to a new study.
A trained scent dog accurately identified whether patients’ urine samples had thyroid cancer or were benign (noncancerous) 88 percent of the time, according to a new study by researchers at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). The results were presented March 6 at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Diego.
Approximately 62,450 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in the US this year, and around 1,950 Americans will die from the disease.
Techniques used to diagnose thyroid cancer include fine-needle aspiration biopsy, which involves the patient having a thin needle inserted into the thyroid gland in the neck to obtain a tissue sample. Donald Bodenner, MD, PhD chief of endocrine oncology at UAMS is the study’s senior investigator. Bodenner said:
Scent-trained canines could be used by physicians to detect the presence of thyroid cancer at an early stage and to avoid surgery when unwarranted.
Study-coauthor Arny Ferrando previously “imprinted,” or scent-trained, a rescued male German Shepherd-mix named Frankie to recognize the smell of cancer in thyroid tissue. Ferrando, who noted that dogs have at least 10 times more smell receptors than humans, said:
Frankie is the first dog trained to differentiate benign thyroid disease from thyroid cancer by smelling a person’s urine.
In this study, 34 patients gave a urine sample before they went on to have a biopsy of suspicious thyroid nodules and surgery. The surgical pathology result was diagnosed as cancer in 15 patients and benign thyroid disease in 19. These urine samples were presented one at a time to Frankie to sniff. Frankie had been trained to alert to a cancer sample by lying down, and turning away from a benign sample to alert the absence of cancer.
The dog’s alert matched the surgical pathology diagnosis in 30 of the 34 study samples, the investigators reported.
Bottom line: A new study by University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) researchers presented March 6, 2015 at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Diego described Frankie, a trained scent dog that accurately identified whether patients’ urine samples had thyroid cancer or were benign 88 percent of the time.
It started when someone we know in Payson, Peter N, posted an item on Facebook about dogs being able to smell out cancer. The Facebook item referred to an article in Natural News. That item here went as follows:
(NaturalNews) The mainstream media is suddenly reporting on the idea that dogs can sniff out cancer in human beings. This concept is no surprise to NaturalNews readers, of course, as we’ve talked about this before, but until now the idea that cancer patients could be detected by smelling them was considered pure quackery by conventional doctors.
Of course, conventional doctors are once again wrong:Cancer patients do have a particular smelldue to the metabolic off-gassing of cancer cell tumors. But here’s the real story the mainstream media isn’t telling you: It’s not just dogs that can smell cancer — manyhealth practitionerscan also smell cancer patients.
I’ve personally spoken to numerous natural health practitioners who say they can smell cancer in patients. It’s not really a difficult thing to do, it turns out. With a bit of training, I believe most doctors could even be trained to do it, much like this dog in Japan which correctly identified cancer from stool samples 37 out of 38 times.
It doesn’t mean doctors have to sniff patients’ poo, either: You can also smell cancer on someone’s breath, so just talking to a patient can give a doctor an opportunity to do that. (Historically, by the way, physicians use to taste patients’ urine, from which they could diagnose a number of diseases, especially diabetes.)
This particular research on dogs’ ability to sniff out cancer was conducted by researchers at the Kyushu University in Japan. Dr Hideto Sonoda, who conducted the research, told the BBC, “The specific cancer scent indeed exists, but the chemical compounds are not clear. Only the dog knows the true answer.”
An important point in all this is thatthe cancer-sniffing dogs were able to detect early-stage bowel cancer— something that is extremely difficult for modern medical technology to detect. And it only takes a dog a few seconds — at virtually zero cost — to make the assessment.
Now, of course, medical scientists are busy trying to build an electronic device to replace the dog, because conventional medicine can’t stand the fact that something built by nature (the dog’s nose) might be better than some million-dollar electronic gizmo they come up with that can be billed out at $500 a test. So rather than just using dogs who can already detect cancer right now, they’re going to wait around a few years and try to create some high-tech equipment that will probably be a poor replacement for the dog.
That’s how modern medicine works: It steals good ideas from nature and replicates them, but the results are almost always a poor imitation of what Mother Nature has provided for free. Here’s how the end results would likely stack up:
Cost: One dog biscuit and a pat on the head
CANCER-SNIFFING HIGH-TECH MACHINE
Cost: $500 billed to Medicare [the US medical system for those unfamiliar with the term. Ed.]
Gee, which one do you think conventional medicine will end up using?
In fact, a quick web search finds much information on the topic including these YouTube videos.
Now how to get our dogs to tell us ……… we’re OK; assuming we are!
The British Medical Journal published a ground-breaking research reporting how dogs have been trained to detect bladder cancer by its smell in urine, bringing together dogs’ exceptional sense of smell, with the theory that cancer produces chemicals with distinctive odours. (on September 24th, 2004 )
Six dogs, none of which had any prior experience in scent discrimination, were trained over seven months to distinguish between urine samples from bladder cancer patients and those from healthy people and individuals with non-cancerous diseases. For the final tests, each dog was offered a set of seven urine samples, and their task was to determine which of them was from a patient with bladder cancer. All of the samples used in the tests were completely new and unfamiliar to the dogs.
The dogs, comprising three spaniels, one papillon, one Labrador and one mongrel, correctly selected the bladder cancer urine on 22 out of 54 occasions – an average success rate of 41% compared to the 14% which would have been expected if the dogs had randomly selected a sample each time. This was statistically significant.
The research was undertaken by a unique partnership of medical scientists, including a statistician, and dog trainers. An orthopaedic surgeon from Buckinghamshire, Mr John Church, brought together colleagues from the Department of Dermatology, Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust (funded by the Erasmus Wilson Dermatological Research Fund) to develop and supervise the scientific protocol for the research, and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People (based near Princes Risborough) for the purpose of training the dogs for the trial.
“We were flattered to be asked to assist in this study on the basis of our reputation in the field of training dogs,” Claire Guest, Operations Director at Hearing Dogs said, “although we have been very careful not to let this project affect our normal work which involves training dogs for deaf people. The four of us who trained these cancer detection dogs did so using our own pet dogs, in our own homes, in our own spare time.”
I rather loved the quote from John Church, “I am a passionate believer that animals have a huge amount to teach us, and I have heard many stories of people who have been alerted to the presence of cancer in their bodies by their pet dogs. I was delighted to find that the two charities were open-minded enough to participate in this study, so that we could really examine this phenomenon scientifically.”
As I keep going on about – we really can learn from dogs!