Health Fusion: Pet one dog and call me in the morning

When I’m stressed or worried, a little puppy time can be a very good thing. Jeb and Ruby make me smile. After a few minutes with them, I can better put the craziness of everyday life into perspective. Research shows that pets are good for your health.

“There is data showing that after a heart attack, if you have a dog or a cat, you have a five times higher chance of surviving a year later,” says Dr. Edward Creagan, retired cancer specialist, author, and oncologist at Mayo Clinic.

In addition to health benefits like reducing stress and getting more up and exercising, Creagan says pets give you a sense of purpose – you need to get up every day to feed and groom your companion. He recalls a story in which, to help a lung cancer patient avoid a downward spiral of depression and isolation, Creagan wrote a prescription for “a dog twice a day.”

“I remember him because he looked like Tony Bennett,” says Creagan. “He, like many of my other patients, changed when they were able to bring a pet into their life.”

Creagan says pets are in no way a substitute for necessary medical treatment. But they can certainly increase happiness and improve the quality of life.

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