Forget taking pills. Cuddle a pet.

It is no secret that high blood pressure has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Hypertension increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney disease and heart failure.  Along with the medical guidelines of less sodium, improved diet and a healthy weight, research has discovered an unlikely source for reducing stress and in the process reducing your blood pressure. Get a pet.

To celebrate National Pet Month, I want to share with you some thoughts on the science of pet ownership.

High Blood Pressure: Dr. Marty Becker, vet consultant for Good Morning America, says it rather bluntly: “If you have a dog around, your blood pressure is lower.”

We enjoy the benefit of having Romeo around so much, we often travel with him. He loves the parade through the lobby on the bellman's rack.

We enjoy the benefit of having Romeo around so much, we often travel with him. He loves the parade through the lobby on the bellman’s rack.

Pain Management: Folks who use pet therapy after surgery need significantly less pain medication than those who do not.

During Jim's transplant recovery, Romeo was ever vigilant in providing the blessings of a cuddle.

During Jim’s transplant recovery, Romeo was ever vigilant in providing the blessings of a cuddle.

Cholesterol: Dog owners, especially men, have significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those who don’t own pets. Not sure if it is the pet’s presence or if it means a healthier lifestyle for those who own a dog.

Our sweet Romeo loves to go boating with us.

Our sweet Romeo loves to go boating with us.

Improves mood: We all love to be greeted like we are something special. Walter Reed Army Medical Center uses dogs in treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. It has helped soldiers re-enter society and decreased suicide rate (a huge health threat to vets).

Waiting for Jim to come home-everyday a6 6 pm Romeo stands watch.

Waiting for Jim to come home-everyday a6 6 pm Romeo stands

“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”—Dean Koontz

“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”—Dean Koontz

 

When your dog looks at you, oxytocin is released in the dog's brain. It is a dog's way of expressing love.

When your dog looks at you, oxytocin is released in the dog’s brain. It is a dog’s way of expressing love.

I have often said that I strive to be the person Romeo believes me to be.  And, in closing, here’s some words of wisdom from Ann Landers:

“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.”