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 Diabetes  Holistic-online.com

Pet Therapy

Pets truly do wonders for people's physical and mental well-being. It can also help with your diabetes.

Pets provide their owners with unconditional love and loyalty. In return, the experience of caring for the animal imparts a sense of belonging and opportunities for play and amusement. Relationships with animals are largely free of the threats and responsibilities inherent in human relationships. For many animal lovers there can be no substitute for the emotional rewards of owning a pet.

Physiological tests have shown that stroking and petting animals can improve general health, lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and produce a reduction in stress levels.

Dr. Elliot Joslin (Joslin's Manual) gave a tribute to how much dogs have done for diabetics. He pointed out that not only did dogs help in the discovery of insulin but a dog is always ready to go for a walk with you. As you know, this is great for your diabetes control. Joslin also said that, best of all, a dog will never lap up some delicious dish that isn't on your diet and then proceed to tell you how fabulous it was--the way some people do.

When I went to see my ophthalmologist, he told me this story of one of his patients. It seems that this person found a stray dog and got terribly attracted to it. He decided to adopt the dog and brought him home. Till that time, he used to lead a sedentary lifestyle ; he hated to go for walks. But Irish, the dog, changed all that. He had to take the dog for his morning and evening walks. As time progressed, he found that his sugar level was coming down and that his cardiovascular problems were also going away. To him, Irish was the best that has happened to him. He told my doctor to tell everyone this story so that they will also discover their own Irish and an answer to their diabetes.

A dog can even save your life. A popular TV show in the USA called "Amazing Pets" features story after story of how pets have saved the life of their owners. Here is the story of how Jet, a pet dog, saved the life of her owner Candy Sangster on October 31, 1986. (Excepted from the book: "The Diabetic's Total Health Book," by June Biermann.)

Around dinner time on Halloween, Hazel Lavin heard a dog barking. It was Jet, the Doberman Pinscher, belonging to her next-door neighbors, George and Candy Sangster. Hazel looked out the window, saw nothing irregular, and returned to what she was doing. When the barking didn't stop, Hazel looked out the window again and saw Jet was in her front yard. She became worried. Jet wasn't the kind of dog who barked a lot. Stranger still, the Sangsters had trained Jet never to leave their yard without them. Hazel wondered how the dog had opened the gate without help. She then noticed that the Sangsters' front door was open and that the lights were on. She called Candy Sangster on the phone, letting it ring repeatedly. When no one answered, thinking something must be wrong, she called the emergency number, 911.

As soon as the paramedics arrived, Jet ran frantically between the driveway and the Sangsters' front door. She looked over her shoulder and waited for them. Hazel and the paramedics agreed that Jet seemed to be motioning them inside. The paramedics were a little apprehensive-Jet was, after all, a Doberman. But she wouldn't give up. Finally, with her eloquent dog body language, she convinced them to follow her into the house.

They found Candy Sangster on the living room floor, unconscious. A diabetic, Candy had passed out earlier in the evening with severe hypoglycemia. As the paramedics worked feverishly to bring Candy around, Jet stood protectively by her side.

If not for Jet, the paramedics said, Candy would not have lived through the weekend because her husband was out of town and not due back until Sunday, so no one would have been there to find her and call for help.

All pets work as wonder drugs, not just dogs. Even plants are beneficial. Cuddling a pet or even just watching one, calms you down and lowers your blood pressure. A pet can also give an older person who lives alone a new leash on life. People in rest or convalescent homes who were in the depths of despair and wouldn't talk or interact with others often opened up in the presence of an animal.

My wife, Dr. Shila Mathew, MD - a psychiatrist, was impressed with the therapeutic benefits of our pet beagle named Keesha. To her, Keesha represents unconditional love. She calls Keesha the "silent therapist." What Keesha provides is something money cannot buy; you can only experience it by having your own pet.

Very often pets give their owners a reason to live. They are afraid that if they die, there won't be anyone to take care of their pets. And very often this desire to live is the best medicine for their illness.

Bierman says that "a pet can be especially important to a diabetic child or teenager who may fear rejection because of being 'different.' There's nothing like unqualified face, licking love to make you feel good about yourself. A bird or a turtle or a tank of fish can provide calming comfort and-very important-something to love and care for and relate to.

So be it animal or vegetable, get a pet. Your diabetes and your life will be better with one or more of these wonder drugs. "

See Also: Pet Therapy in Holisticonline.com

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