Melt Away Stress with your Cat or Dog

As a pet parent, you know how much love and joy pets bring into our homes, but did you know they can also improve your health?

Over the years, studies have found that pets can boost our health in measurable ways.+  Here are  a few more reasons to shower your pet with love around Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Stress Relievers
Nothing melts away the stress of the day like a warm snuggle from your pet. But it may be more than psychological relief. Research has revealed that pets can help lower blood pressure and anxiety levels.

Heart Helpers
Pets can have positive effects on our hearts. Studies have reported better survival rates for heart attack patients with pets and improved heart rate variability, which is an indicator of heart health.

Mental Boosters
Our furry pals may also combat depression. In studies, pet-assisted therapy helped reduce depression in chemotherapy patients, and pets reduced stress for people caring for loved ones with dementia.

Read more about the health benefits of pets when it comes to allergies, fitness, and autism at our blog.

+Sources: K. Arhant-Sudhir, R. Arhant-Sudhir, K. Sudhir, Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 2011; C. Westgarth, BMC Veterinary Research, 2007; M. Orlandi, Anticancer Research, 2007; S. Lupien, Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2010



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Tooth Brushing Tips

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so it's a great time to check your pet's teeth and gums:

• Smell your pet's breath to make sure it doesn't smell foul or offensive.
• Gently push back your pet's lips and look over teeth and gums for obvious issues.
• Be on the lookout for difficulty chewing or excessive pawing at the mouth.

If you have any concerns, call your veterinarian. You should also schedule a yearly dental cleaning. If you have Level 3 or 4, it's covered.

Learn more about dental health for cats or for dogs at the ASPCA's website.

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Recent studies have shown that pets can lower blood pressure, boost heart health, and reduce depression. Here are a few more ways pets can boost our health:

Allergy Helpers
We often think about pets causing allergies, but research has shown they may prevent allergies in certain cases. For example, one study found that infants exposed to dogs were less likely to have pet allergies or eczema.*

Exercise Buddies
Taking your dog out for walks or playing energetic interactive games with your cat can help both you and your pet lose weight and stay in shape. We’ve got more on exercising with your pet in this January blog post.

Helping Children
It hasn’t been formally researched, but some parents report that pets have helped their autistic children open up to new emotions and experiences. There are even programs set up to train pets for this purpose.

These are just a few more reasons to appreciate our pets and all of the good things they bring to our lives!

*Source: James E. Gern, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2004.


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It’s exciting to bring home a new pet for the holidays, but of course it’s a big responsibility too. To help protect all of the furry members in your family, we offer a 10% multiple pet discount to current ASPCA Pet Health Insurance customers. Just call 1-866-204-6764 to add a new pet to your plan.  To learn more about ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, visit our website.


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Lots of people resolve to get in shape in the New Year, but let’s not forget our furry companions! Not only do they need exercise, they can make fun workout buddies too. We’ve got some ideas to burn calories with your pet plus some indoor games to beat the winter blues.

Shape Up with Your Pet
Before you start, you may want to consult with your veterinarian or schedule a routine exam, especially if your pet hasn’t been very active. If you have our Level 3 or 4 plan, a yearly check-up is covered.

Get Fit with Fido
The snow may be falling outside, but there are still plenty of ways to exercise inside with your dog. Get your heart rates up by running around the house together using a toy or ball as motivation. For an upper body work out, try an energetic game of tug-of-war.

Aerobicize with Kitty
Interactive games can get you and your cat moving. Try attaching a string to your belt loop and encourage your cat to chase you from room to room. To work your arms, tie a cat toy securely to a ruler and move it up and down for your cat to jump at.

Be careful your pet doesn’t chew apart and swallow any toys or strings after you’re done. But remember, if an accident does happen, we can help you manage the veterinary bills.

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Cat with toys

The snow and cold have arrived. If you are looking for fun winter activities for you and your pet, these ideas will chase Old Man Winter away:

• Create a pet playground with discarded gift boxes and wrapping paper.
• Play hide and seek with your pet by hiding treats around the house.
• Practice a new trick, like speaking, shaking hands, or rolling over.
• Give your pet a treat dispensing toy to knock around the house.
• Throw a small ball across the room for a good old fashioned game of fetch.

And don’t forget one of the best ways to warm up on a cold day – a good, long cuddle with your furry friend.

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If you resolved to quit smoking this year, you’re also doing something great for your pet’s health! Second hand smoke can irritate your pet’s nose and sinuses, and has been linked to cancer in pets. Learn more at the ASPCA’s blog.

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Did you resolve to get more exercise in 2012? Don’t forget your pet! Regular physical activity can help you and your pet slim down, but that’s not all. It can build muscle and bone, increase circulation, aid digestion, improve sleep, and even boost your moods.

Before starting a new exercise routine for your pet, you may want to consult with your
veterinarian or schedule a check-up. If you have our Level 3 or 4 plan, a yearly exam is

Here are some suggestions to burn calories with your furry friend:

For dogs…
It may be chilly this month, but you can still bundle up and enjoy a brisk walk or run with your dog, or take a hike in the woods where trees can protect you from the wind. Be careful of slippery ice and snow, and brush your pup off when you get home to help avoid frostbite.

If you have trouble getting your dog to go outside when it’s cold, these tips from the ASPCA might help.

For cats…
The ASPCA doesn’t recommend letting your kitty outside in the winter, but there are plenty of ways to exercise together indoors. Pretty much any interactive toy will get your cat jumping around – just be sure to join in the fun and get your heart rating going as well.

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Haven't finished holiday shopping for your pet?  This list can help!  Below are some pet gifts that can be found at the ASPCA Online Store Keep in mind that 40% of the purchase price goes to support the ASPCA’s lifesaving work.  Happy shopping!

Holiday Squeaker Mat
Entertain your pup with a plush and squeaky holiday mat.

Exercise your kitty with a crazy string-flinging machine.

Royal Treatment Italian Pet Spa
Give your pet the royal treatment with organic bath products.

But remember, the best gift you can give your pet, and yourself, is the gift of protection! Our pet insurance can help you prepare financially for your pet’s health care costs in 2012 and beyond. Start now with a free quote.

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We looked through our roster of insured pets to see which names were most popular in 2011. Here are the top 10 dog and cat names among our protected pals.

1. Bella
2. Max
3. Buddy
4. Lucy
5. Bailey
6. Molly
7. Charlie
8. Daisy
9. Maggie
10. Chloe

There were also some unique names in our top 100 including Gizmo, Luna, Oreo, and Bruno. What’s your favorite pet name? Post a comment and let us know!

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As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.