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Cancer patient writes about benefits of pet ownership
09.28.2012In an essay appearing in the New York Times blog, a cancer patient documents how adopting a puppy changed her life after being diagnosed with cancer.
Although her doctors at first strongly advised against taking in a new pet, because of her fragile physical state - Suleika Jaouad says that adopting Oscar, miniature schnauzer and toy poodle, was the best thing she could have done for herself.
"Rather than staring at my bald head, passersby stop to play with Oscar and to tell me how cute he is," she writes. "It’s nice not to be the center of attention for a change."
Jaouoad isn't alone in experiencing the benefits of pet therapy. in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that owning a pet can help individuals regulate their blood pressure by reducing stress, as well as aid with managing triglyceride levels and cholesterol via increased exercise. Because of these benefits, some people may avoid requiring emergency medicine for a heart attack due to clogged arteries.
Ways in which your dog or cat could harm your health
But is owning a four-legged friend always great for one's overall well-being? Some aren't so sure. In fact, a comprehensive article from the L.A. Times outlined the health advantages and disadvantages of pet ownership last summer. Though the publication highlighted many of the already noted health benefits, the news source also noted some of the risks.
For one example, the CDC states that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the U.S., and approximately 20 percent of these people require the attention of emergency department physicians. In addition, children between 5 and 9 years old are the most likely to need immediate care.
The L.A. Times also notes that if cats are fed raw meat or eat rodents their owners can catch the toxoplasmosis parasite - which is especially dangerous for pregnant women - through their litter. Both The L.A. Times and the CDC also point to ringworm and the plague as two animal-borne diseases. However they also mention that pet owners can avoid becoming ill by simply washing their hands after they play with their animal companion.
Categories: Health and Wellness
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