House Calls

WIN 2018

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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Page 22 of 54

Can Fluffy and Fido Boost Your Health? body and mind 18 { winter 2018 } h o u s e c a l l s Don't Have a Pet? If you love pooches and kitties but can't own one because of financial, time, allergy, or space restraints, there are other ways to reap pet rewards. Pet sitting or volunteering at local animal shelters are great options; for a little more responsibility, consider temporarily fostering a dog or cat in need. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, contact a local shelter: Charleston Animal Society (Charleston County); (843) 329-1543 Pet Helpers (Charleston County); (843) 795-1110 Doc Williams SPCA (Berkeley County); (843) 761-5266 Dorchester Paws (Dorchester County); (843) 871-3820 According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, an estimated 10 percent of people are allergic to household pets , with cat allergies being twice as common as dog allergies. Symptoms include itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, a stuffy nose, coughing, and skin rash; if these surface after you or your child play with the family pet, visit an immunologist, who can help you manage the condition. Though the first line of treatment is avoiding or limiting exposure to the animal, when that's unavoidable, over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal sprays or allergy shots—the most common form of immunotherapy—may help . (this page & next) Mount Pleasant resident Heather Cumbee gets active with pups (from left) Nanook. Nakita. and Kiyah at Palmetto Islands County Park. D ogs may be our best friends, but can they actually improve our well-being? "Absolutely," says Jim Merryman, owner of Labrador retriever Molly, a nine-year-old trained therapy dog who makes frequent rounds through Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital as well as schools and retirement homes in the area. "If Molly senses that you are anxious or sad, she will sit quietly next to you, lay her head in your lap, and look up at you—it's as if she's saying, 'feel better soon,'" says Merryman. "Pets fill a void that medicine doesn't," he adds. Here, find more ways dogs, cats, birds, and other household pets can bolster our health. They ward off loneliness and boost our mood. Ask anyone who's been greeted by a tail-wagging pup or purring kitty at the end of a long day: Pets are pros at eliciting smiles. And a 2011 study published by the American Psychological Association found they provide substantial social support for humans, too—a fact Merryman witnesses day in and out. "Many retirement home residents will set an alarm for Molly's visits, ensuring they don't miss her," he says. "They form an instant and lasting bond." They improve our heart health. In 2013, the American Heart Association suggested that pet owners have better heart health than those without animals. Why? They get people active by way of walks and playtime and help relieve stress (a study by University of New York at Buffalo researchers found that participants experienced less stress when with their pets than with their spouse or a friend). They provide a sense of purpose. Domestic pets rely on us for regular care. For retirees and housebound patients in particular, tending to animals can bring fulfillment to each week. Kids, too, can learn character-building lessons and responsibility through caring for a pet, be it a bunny, fish, frog, or dog. Science—along with firsthand evidence—shows that pets provide a host of health perks – B Y H A I L E Y M I D D L E B R O O K BATTLING ANIMAL-RELATED ALLERGIES

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