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An Apple a Day

Aug 29, 2016 01:07PM ● By Becky Coburn

By Dr. Louisa Asseo

I witness it every single day. I see it on the faces of my incredible team at Oasis Veterinary Hospital, with my clients, and with strangers on the street. I experience it personally with my patients and when I get home from work.  Animals make us smile.  They make us laugh.  They increase our happiness.  But did you know that animals can actually have a positive influence on our health?

Pets can be part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have proven that having pets can lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels.  Studies have also shown that having pets can help people with heart disease live longer lives.  This is thought to be because of the innate way pets have of lowering our stress level. 

Pets, especially dogs, can help us stay fit. The NIH has shown that people who routinely walk with their dogs are less prone to obesity. Studies have shown that people with dogs get more physical activity than people without dogs. They can also help keep us in a fitness routine and stay motivated.  When a stressful day leaves us less than interested in hitting the gym, hooking up the leash to your pooch can be just as beneficial to getting up and moving.  Who can resist the sweet pleading eyes of a dog waiting for his morning walk or afternoon jog?

Pets can help boost our mood and combat depression and loneliness. They can give a person a sense of purpose – someone that depends on them.  Years ago, I shared my life with a very special cat named Lacey.  As a certified animal-assisted therapy cat, he visited retirement homes and hospitals frequently with me. It was amazing to see what an impact he could have on those he visited.  People gathered around for the chance to pet him, and they would tell stories of their own pets. I would see their faces light up and their pain lessen for even a moment.  It was one of the most rewarding times I can remember

Of course, caring for a pet isn’t for everyone. There is a huge responsibility that goes along with providing for animals in our homes. But if you have opened up your home to a furry, scaly, or feathered friend, enjoy every moment, and remember that you both are benefiting from happier – and healthier – lives together.

Dr. Louisa Asseo, owner of Oasis Veterinary Hospital, can be reached at (925) 954-8087, 6635 Alhambra Ave., Ste. 100, Martinez. Visit