Health Matters,  Life Day By Day

Pets and our health

It may come as no surprise that there are benefits for our health in having a pet. This could be a pet dog, cat, bird, horse, pony or like us – chickens. If you are kind to an animal, feed them well and take care of their health, the spinoff is that it is good for our health. Many animals make good companions and reward us with acceptance and unconditional love.

This is what so many people are looking for today, in a world where acceptance is sometimes difficult to find. The western capitalist and consumer world is very individualistic. The focus is on self and what “I” can get out of it, not so much on what “I” can give! But then, if you care for the needs of your pet, usually they are not out to get more. That is, apart from my chickens who are always looking for that extra treat.

Take a dog, for example, they are not interested in whether you have the latest trendy shoes or handbag, bags of money or planning that next overseas trip. What is important is the basics: shelter, food, water, exercise and play. A little attention towards your pet dog goes a long way. They give back more than you give, but then who is counting – not the dog!

Why am I concentrating on this topic? My sister Christine this week reminded me that a dog’s love is unconditional (she has two dogs). Then I was at Kmart this week, the new one in Grand Central, Toowoomba. Everything is fresh, tidy, well organised and cheap. Of course, there is a cost to “cheap”. It is low-priced labour in China. Is it their pain – and our gain? These types of thoughts are generally dismissed as we reach up to the shelf for the cheap glossy new item for our home. Am I any different? Not really, I always like a bargain. But on another level, we like to repair items when we can, rather than dispose of them and replace with new.

I was in Kmart looking for a couple of laundry items. There was only one lane of these. As I peeked into the next lane I found there was an entire aisle of goods to buy for your pets. I considered the next aisle and there again, toys for pets, bedding, treats. It went on and on. Is this because that central to the consumers world today, is their pet? If so, that is not so bad. We all need a pet who will give us unconditional love in a world that is full of violence, vilification and international tension.

There are rows and rows of pet items at Kmart at Grand Central, Toowoomba

Why not then indulge our pets? If that’s you, take a walk into Kmart to shop for your pet. However, they don’t sell chicken pellets. Though, I have found a great pet store in Toowoomba, not far from us, that has the good quality pellets for my Princess Chickens (the ones that get treated like royalty). After moving into their new palace (aka coop), they are right at home. In a short while they have become accustomed to the “good life”.

After just over a month they know us and our voices. They have come to understand and expect they will be showered with kindness, plenty of fine dining pellets, water, shell grit and daily treats. When they are free ranging and I appear, they come running. Yes, I know it really is “cupboard love” – but it is their way of showing I am important to them and I am fine with that. Our chickens (hens) are very generous to us. The four of them are now laying an egg most days and this is just one benefit of growing your own eggs at home (i.e. caring for chickens). It is even possible in an urban garden, like ours!

It is scientifically proven that there are benefits of owning a pet; physical, emotional and psychological. Have a read from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) say about owning a pet. If you are thinking of getting an animal then you could also think about adopting one from the RSPCA.

A growing number of retirement villages encourage residents to bring their pets with them. Yet, not so with aged care homes. Although, aged care home providers are beginning to realise the benefits of pet therapy.

Pet therapy at our place includes watching the antics of our chickens!

Pets can: lift your mood; decrease your stress; bring a smile to your face; cause you to feel less depressed and result in fewer visits to the doctor. Sounds like it is worthwhile having a pet, even if there is a little work to keep them content.

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