It’s official: companion animals enhance our health and well-being. The devotion and unconditional love that pets show their caregivers is awesome, and even the Centers for Disease Control admit that there are many health benefits to sharing life with a dog, so let’s set some time during November to honor National Pet Awareness Month with a favorite four-legged companion . Medical research reveals that pets can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, generate positive feelings, and promote relaxation. They have positive impacts on people of all ages: they influence social and emotional development in children, promote an active lifestyle, and documentation has evidenced that in some cases, they have even been able to detect the oncoming episodes of seizures. The extra boost of exercise can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, levels and triglycerides, explains the Centers for Disease Control.

Pets fulfill the natural craving humans have for emotional relationships, and there are many ways pets make us feel better. A companion animal helps us feel less lonely and isolated. Ask many citizens living alone and they will admit that pets give them a sense of purpose; they always need something—food, a walk, a snuggle, or just a kind word. And as an added benefit, take a walk with your dog through the neighborhood, and more than likely someone will talk to you. Studies have shown that people walking with a dog talk to new people more often than if the dog wasn’t with them. Coming home after a tough day at work gives you something to look forward to…If you have a pet, you are never alone, and no matter how cranky you get, your dog always forgives you , and continues to show affection, offering unconditional and enduring love.

How is it that your dog can so powerfully influence your physical and emotional health? Experts explain it this way: “It’s providing a focus of attention that’s outside of one’s self. Pets let you focus on them rather than focusing inward on yourself all the time. One of the best ways to reduce stress and improve your outlook on life is to “get over yourself” which can sometimes be difficult to do, and caring for a pet takes your focus off yourself and the love and attention you receive in return is tremendously gratifying. Your dog accepts you without question, expects nothing of you, and is content just to share space with you.”

Some days we can hardly find time for ourselves, much less our dogs, but they deserve more than just water and food, and a quick trip outside to do their business. Maybe this month is a good time to MAKE time and continue throughout the year..

Every dog deserves:

  • Wellness checks: Do not wait until he has a major health issue.. regular visits to the vet often catch potential problems before they become serious threats to the dog’s health. Veterinary care can be expensive, but the positive effect pets have on their caregivers outweighs the cost to keep them healthy
  • Regular grooming: Grooming is important for more than just appearance; matted hair traps heat and prevents air from circulating freely, and early detection of lumps or bumps can be important discoveries during brushing.
  • Consistent , positive training: Obedience is important, but dogs do not automatically know the house rules and regulations. Training takes time, and bad behavior is usually because humans have not taken the time to teach them.
  • Housetraining also takes time, and patience.
  • Mental and physical exercise: All work and no play makes for a restless, bored dog. Dogs love to play, and you should MAKE time to play with your dog and give him physical exercise and mental stimulation. If left without appropriate outlets, your dog could become destructive or show other behavior problems.

When life gets hectic, and you feel overwhelmed, make time for your dog, and you will both feel better.