He’s So Fluffy!!!

Did anyone else see Despicable Me?  I didn’t really like the movie, but I love that line, complete with the shaking of the fluffy thing.

But I digress, because this post is really about pets and how they affect my health.

I love pets, of all kinds.  If we had a larger place and weren’t renting, I’m sure we’d have a zoo by now.  I love my dog more than I ever thought I could and now I truly understand why so many people say their pets are like their children.

Snow20

My Good Boy :0) (Photo by me)

Lucky for me, this “child” can be left alone for a few hours at a time and as it turns out, gives me several health benefits:

  1. Daily, required movement.  Dogs need to be walked every day, several times a day.  That means even on my laziest day, I’m doing some walking.  Probably not going to happen if you have just a cat, although I have heard of people in big cities walking their cats or iguanas on leashes.  To each their own…
  2. People, especially those who are strongly attached to their pets, are less likely to suffer depression if they own a pet (Study of AIDS patients, WebMD)
  3. Petting an animal can lower your blood pressure (although my dog has definitely raised mine on occasion… Discovery Health).
  4. Playing with pets (even if they aren’t yours) can increase your dopamine and seratonin levels, calming you down (WebMD).
  5. Heart attack victims have been found to live longer if they own a pet (WebMD).
  6. People perceive that they make friends more easily when they own pets (Discovery Health).
  7. Having dogs around makes you more productive at work (and less likely to snitch when playing the Prisoner’s Dilemma game…) (The Economist).

I feel it is only fair though to present the flip side as well, as I’m also truly allergic to most furry pets.  Contrary to the belief of some, your allergies can actually get worse as you grow older and being around pets from a baby onward doesn’t always do much.

Case and point:  me.

Growing up we had cats at my home from the time I was born until now.  We had a dog from the age of 6 until just a few years ago.  In high school I started to have major sinus problems.  Constant drainage.  Sinus infections left and right.  Hard to breathe after exercising.  In addition I also had the usual allergy symptoms that I always had, from itchy throat, ears, and hands to watery eyes, but we had always attributed them to seasonal allergies.  People probably were really annoyed with me in high school because I was *constantly* clearing my throat without really realizing it.

Johnnycat01

Johnny Cat, friendliest cat ever, who can't understand why he gets kicked out of the house when I go home (Photo by me)

Then I went to college… and my allergy symptoms and sinus problems magically disappeared.  Went back home for break… appeared again and WORSE.  I also house sat for someone who had cats while at college and had the same symptoms.  It was pretty easy to figure out then that I was allergic to cats and pretty extremely.  I don’t go into anaphylatic shock, but the itchiness is out of control and the sneezing is non-stop when I’m around them.  You never realize how amazingly different you feel when you can breathe for long periods of time without phlegm clouding your breath or how nice it is to not be sick every few weeks with sinus infections (beautiful image, I know).

I’ve since seen an allergist and skin tests confirm that I’m allergic to cats and dogs (among 10 other things).  I do not get any of the allergy symptoms currently with Maddox, but there are definitely certain breeds that set me off.  Once again, it appears that everything is about finding a balance of what works for you and your health.  While I would love to add more pets to the family, including a cat, I know it is the best interest of my health not to… as fluffy and beneficial as they are.

How do your pets affect your health (good or bad)?

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