Archive for the Pets Category

Another good reason to have pets – Pets can detect cancer

Posted in Pets, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 14, 2008 by Dr. CJ

My wife and I are big-time lovers of dogs.  We have a couple cats, too, but the dogs are our passion.  They are basically our kids for the time being, and they certainly demand that kind of treatment. 

I’ve often wondered what it would be like without them, but that image seems so boring to me.  As much as a handful they can be, there are innumerable moments of bliss as a dog-owner. 

I’m often reminded of a bumper sticker I once saw:

The more people I meet, the more I love my dog.

Here’s another bonus of being a pet-owner.  Just in the last several years, some anecdotes about dogs detecting cancers in their owners have surfaced and have actually prompted some research studies.  The article describes a study for bladder cancers, in which the dogs were trained to sniff the urine and were 3x more successful at detecting presence of cancer than chance alone (41% vs. 14%). 

My favorite part of that study is that one of the so-called “normals”, a healthy control subject was consistently identified by the dogs as having cancer.  Further investigation led to the discovery of a kidney cancer.

Another study demonstrated that dogs were 99 percent accurate in their identification of lung cancer  and 88 percent accurate in identifying breast cancer by breath samples.  Pretty amazing results.  They note, however, that the control subjects were all healthy, and thus it would be important to verify that the dogs could distinguish cancer from some other condition, e.g. infection.

This could be an interesting area of research, particularly if an abnormality can be identified and consistently measured in a laboratory setting. 

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How can pets improve your health

Posted in Pets with tags , , on February 13, 2008 by Dr. CJ

If your dog is fat, you aren’t getting enough exercise. – Unknown

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself. – Josh Billings

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For any one who is a pet owner, it’s easy to understand the appeal of a pet, and there is no shortage of quotations about our endearing relationships with pets.  Pets are nonjudgmental, forgiving creatures that simply want to love and be loved. 

Take a look at this fascinating article that summarizes some of the research on the health benefits of pet ownership

A few of the key points mentioned in this article:

  • One study demonstrated that dog owners walk twice as much as those without dogs.  “Dog obligation” walkers walked 300 minutes/wk compared to 168 minutes/week for others
  • Elderly people are less stressed and need fewer health services if they have pets
  • People with pets do better after a “coronary crisis” [aka heart attack]
  • Levels of serotonin increase after petting animals
  • Pets have a place in the bedroom (20% of dogs snored in one particular study – mine do, too)

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. – Ben Williams

The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too. – Samuel Butler