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Pet Peeve - Dr Robert Zammit

Sunday, 11th October 2009

Playing stick with your dog can keep you healthy!

Celebrity Vet, Dr Robert Zammit has joined the team at to give advice and help with issues you may have with pets or pests. But firstly, should you even buy that pet?

It's a thought that crosses everyone's mind at some time in their lives, especially if you have a child.  The disadvantages of pet ownership are obvious.  Firstly, there's the clean, washing, brushing and of course the woopsies.  Then there's fencing, council fees, feeding, veterinary fees and holiday times.  So considering all those negatives, do the positives outweigh them?

Without your health you have nothing; and pets do keep us healthy.  Studies at universities - both in Australia and overseas - have proven that by simply stroking a cat or dog, your blood pressure immediately reduces.  It can be better than meditating for an hour; and if you develop a good relationship with your pet, you'll find time spent alone with your pet is the best time to not only reflect on your current events and situations, but it clears your mind, allowing thought processes that lead to logical, correct decisions.  The studies concluded that people who allow their pets to take an active part in their life, not only live longer but also live healthier, better quality lives.

Another study, looking at people in retirement homes in America where residents are allowed to keep their pets, showed that pet owners not only lived longer but also lived far more active lives reflected in their desire and ability to participate in the activities put on by the administrators.  Part of the reason is obvious.  People will take their pets for a walk and this in itself assists greatly in keeping older people mobile.  But psychologists have said there is a far more important reason....the will to live.  People who have pets are motivated by the desire to be there for their pets and remain sufficiently healthy to look after them.

So, the question you might need to address is:  do I have the time for a pet?  Do I have time to feed, care and walk my pet each day?  You should also consider walking your pet whether it is a dog or a cat.  Three to five times each week for a minimum of twenty minutes - more if you can.  No time? Now hang on.  The question you need to ask yourself is why am I paying money into my retirement fund if I just decided to shorten my life?  If you don't have time for a pet, you are saying you don't have time for yourself.  You will start asking what life is about if you haven't afforded yourself the one commodity that can't be bought: a lifetime that's quality along with quantity.  You can't buy longevity of life time, but you can work towards it, and the quicker you start the better it will be.

The other reason people consider a pet is for their child. Should I buy a pet for my children? That's a no-brainer.  Kids that grow up with animals tend to make better adults.  However, you do need some planning.

Firstly, think about the average age of a pet you are purchasing.  Make sure it isn't an old animal when your child is doing the higher school certificate.  One of the lessons children learn through owning a pet is loss.  It is lesson in grief, bought about by death, but try and avoid this occurring at critical times in their life, such as higher school certificate exams.  The average age of a well cared for dog is 10 - 12 years, so try and consider having a pet when your child is very young - less than three or slightly older - around seven.  In this way, that critical, adolescent time of final school examinations can be met without the complication of the death of a much loved pet.

One golden rule of learning is to teach.  If you teach someone something, you learn it far better yourself.  Your child should be given the opportunity of taking the dog to obedience school.  They will teach the dog to obey and to be responsible for defined actions

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