When you’re suffering from depression, it can be very hard to lift yourself out and you often feel like you’re drowning in a deep, dark hole. People suffer from depression for many reasons, some of which are not even known and it can be a very complex time in their lives.
While the cures for depression usually involve medication, many patients are turning to their pets for added support during such a tough time and there is more and more evidence to suggest that pets help depression. Having a pet is a joyful part of your life, and for people with depression, it can be a great aid to help them get better and start to enjoy life again.
Pets offer a lovely companionship that can fill a void for you. Capable of empathy and support that sometimes humans can’t offer, pets are a comfort that can really help you recover your happiness. Pets also offer a soothing presence that can help calm you during stressful situations. They have been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate and are also used for patients recovering from heart attacks.
Pets have no judgement; they love you unconditionally – and it’s this unconditional love that can really help those suffering from depression. When pets show their love for you with no questions asked, it can make you feel far less lonely, especially if your human support system isn’t showing the same affection.
Having a pet promotes responsibility and having a living creature to look after is good for self esteem, independency and building structure into your day. Staying in bed until noon isn’t an option if you have a cat meowing for their breakfast or a dog barking for a walk.
Touch is known to be a great healer and having a soft pet to touch like a dog, cat or rabbit can increase your dopamine and serotonin levels, making you feel happier. Not only that, paying attention to our pet by playing with them, patting them or watching them do something can take our minds off reality for a bit and give you something to be proud of.
Dogs are active pets, needing exercise to keep them healthy. This is great for those suffering from depression as exercise has been found to reduce the symptoms of depression, and what better way to exercise than to take your best friend for a walk.
So next time you’re feeling down, reach for your furry friend and have a cuddle; it’s sure to make you feel better.
Images via women9.com and thelimewalk.blogspot.com
Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
Name and role: Debra Tranter, founder of Oscar’s Law
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
My role with Oscar’s Law changes day to day, it is so unpredictable and difficult to plan as anything can happen. We keep an eye on what the industry are doing and saying so we can respond immediately. I spend a lot of time reading state legislation so I am prepared especially for our meeting with politicians; we can tell them what’s not working, and why we need change. Writing submissions for legislative change is difficult and time consuming but vital to what we do.
We also have many awareness projects on the go so touching base with all of them and making sure they are progressing. Following up on complaints of cruelty is a big part of what I do and we liaise with other organisations in order to get the best outcomes for the animals. We are always looking for and creating opportunities to bring about awareness to the issue and finding ways to reach different audiences as people react differently and we need to tailor our message in order to expand our reach.
How/when did you know this is what you wanted to do as a career?
I don’t get paid for volunteering with Oscar’s Law. Oscars Law simply doesn’t have the funds to hire staff but I am also morally opposed to paying myself or anyone else. Oscars Law will always remain a grass roots organisation. We are the underdog in many ways, we don’t have a lot of money or paid staff but what we do have is thousands of dedicated supporters who continually help to raise awareness and we have succeeded in making sure this issue is on the political agenda.
I still work as a registered nurse. I put myself through university when both my daughters were in primary school. Once I graduated I chose to work in aged care as I saw many injustices and knew I could bring about change. I worked my way up to manager and then within a few years I was promoted to area manager and managed 5 nursing homes. I eventually took on a role as Quality Manager for an aged care company. It was a role I loved as I was empowered to really make a difference in the lives of our elderly residents, and it was something I had worked so hard to achieve. However the time I was dedicating to work left little time for my volunteers work for animals. So at the age of 47 I made the decision to quit my career and focus on my work with Oscar’s Law. I now work for a nursing agency and work 3-4 nightshifts per week in order to pay my bills.
When did you start Oscar’s Law and what took you to begin the campaign?
I founded Oscars Law in 2010 but I have been working on this issue since 1993 when I first found out about puppy factories. Back in 1993 no one had heard about the issue and no one gave much thought about where the cute puppies in the windows of pet shops came from. I thought it was an incredible injustice and when I went to my first puppy factory I resolved then and there to do everything I could to bring about change, the decision changed the course of my life forever. Fast forward 20 years and I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve, now more people than ever know about puppy factories and are making kinder choices, they don’t want to contribute to this industry and the public are taking away the market from puppy factories.
What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started and since then?
Initially it was just getting people to believe me, no one thought we could be factory-farming puppies in this country and even those that worked within animal welfare refused to believe it was an issue. It was a very lonely time, and giving up seemed to be so easy. I wasn’t taken seriously and the people with a vested interest did everything to shut me down and discredit me. I was challenging and threatening to expose the way they made their income. It became almost unbearable at times with the constant threats and lack of support due to people just not thinking it was an issue. The industry was huge and they had representatives on most Government animal welfare advisory committees so just trying to be heard was very difficult.
How did you overcome these?
I have never wavered from the belief that this is a terrible injustice based on cruelty and consumer fraud. I chose to block out all the negativity and not waste any time on it. I read up on every piece of legislation surrounding the issues and argued that all of the laws were to protect the commercial interests of puppy farmers not the dogs, and then I set out to prove it over and over again. Once you see, you cannot un-see; and what I was witnessing first hand on puppy factories was so horrific I simply refused to give up.
What are your goals for the future and the future of Oscar’s Law?
We are at the stage now where politicians are listening, and this is testament to our supporter base that have made this a political issue. We are currently working with political parties on legislative change that will make a huge difference and because this is a state issue we need to keep working in each state until we have a consistent national solution to bringing about an end to puppy factories. Oscars Law is a great example of a leaderless campaign whereby we empower the public so they can help bring about the changes needed. We are very proud that we have always supported grass roots campaigns and have offered support and guidance and helped fundraise for other organisations. I am determined that Oscar’s Law will continue to provide this support in solidarity with others in order to bring about change.
What is the response you receive from people when you tell them about the campaign and how do you get others to take action?
When people first find out about puppy factories they are horrified and eager to help. The graphic images of cruelty that these dogs endure can be quite disengaging as most people turn away, no one likes to view cruelty to animals. It’s why we try and find different and creative ways to reach out to the public in order to make them feel empowered and let them know they can make a difference and be part of the solution.
Where do you find your inspiration?
The animals, always. They are forever on my mind. I have witnessed what they endure, I have held them in my arms and I can feel their suffering. Their ability to forgive astounds me, they have every reason to hate humans but I have watched puppy factory survivors on their journey of healing and their ability to learn to trust and forgive humans is inspiring. We betray them in so many ways but puppy factories would have to be the ultimate betrayal to our ‘best friends’.
Driving community and political awareness surrounding the issue is a big part of what you do. Tell us about how you extend your important message?
This issue is so important to me and it’s been a 20-year journey so I am prepared to do what ever it takes to achieve a better outcome for these animals. Involving and encouraging other organisations to take on the issue is so important as it only make ‘our voice’ stronger. Collectively we can reach out and educate more people. Oscars Law organised a two-day advocacy program to teach others how to be advocates in their community and this attitude of empowering others and sharing ways to bring about change underpins everything we do.
What advice would you give to someone who is passionate about challenging puppy farming or wanting to follow the same path as you?
Don’t think you can change the world overnight! Be prepared to stick it out, change takes years. Try to find positive achievement with your campaign every day, I call them “moments of greatness”, it keeps you going. Reflect often on the things you have achieved. Ignore the haters, success breeds’ enemies. Stay focused on what matters. Believe in yourself.
In the lead-up to Christmas a pet will no doubt be on the top of many kids’ wish lists! But it’s important to make sure the family is ready for the commitment. A pet is for life, not just for Christmas and unfortunately many animal shelters are inundated with pets in the new year that, once the responsibility sets in, families are no longer in a position to care for the animal.
Dr Katrina Warren shares her six top tips on making sure your family is ready and how to prepare for having a pet:
- The entire family should agree.
- The children should comfortable around animals.
- Children should be old enough to show respect and have self-control.
- The adults are prepared for the responsibility (don’t expect kids to be solely responsible!)
- Choose the right pet for your lifestyle and be realistic about the amount of time you have for caring and training it.
- Toy pets such as Little Live Pets can be a great way to introduce children to the responsibility that comes with owning a pet.
Little Live Pets are available from all major toy retailers Australia-wide, prices start at $12.95.
It’s one of the most raved about super foods of the year and by now most people are well and truly knowledgeable on the myriad health and wellness benefits of coconut oil; but did you know this wonder oil has significant benefits for your furry friends as well? Long gone are the days when man’s best friend was restricted to a bland diet of dry dog food and canned meat. Now your four-legged pal can reap the multiple wellbeing rewards from virgin coconut oil the same way you do.
Coconut guru and author of new book Going Coconuts, Brynley King, has raised her rambunctious French bulldog, Ernie, on a coconut heavy diet with her family’s Fijian-derived Banaban coconut products and he couldn’t be happier or healthier. Now Brynley is sharing her top five tips for why your pooch should make like Ernie and go coconuts as well:
Just like humans, regular consumption of coconut oil has noticeably positive impacts on dog digestion, aiding in the healing of digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. Plus, when mixed into meals, the oil helps to up the levels of nutrient absorption in your pup, making it easier for their bodies to absorb the proteins, vitamins and minerals in their food.
Promotes good joint health
Many dogs suffer from arthritis, stiff joints and ligament problems, which have a huge impact on their quality of life. The anti-inflammatory properties in coconut oil promote mobility by reducing the painful inflammation associated with arthritis. Massaging coconut oil into any sore joints will also do a world of good for your dog by increasing circulation and relieving built-up tension.
Relieves skin ailments
Applied externally, virgin coconut oil is a miracle skin and coat treatment, helping to heal everything from rashes to small cuts and everything in between. Similar to how we use the oil as a body moisturiser and hair treatment, try rubbing a decent amount of oil into your dog’s coat, skin and paws to moisturise any rough patches, ward off pesky fleas and give them a smooth, glossy coat with the bonus of reducing doggie odor.
Boosts energy levels and aids weight loss
If your fur-baby has been receiving a little too much love in the food department the good fats in coconut oil work wonders at speeding up the metabolism and balancing the thyroid. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconuts are incredibly easy for dogs (and humans) to digest and are converted into energy at a much faster rate than other oils which are usually stored as fat. This is why Ernie’s homemade meals are always cooked with coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.
Supports good oral health
Just as many people have discovered the benefits of oil pulling with coconut oil, it can also be used as an all-natural toothpaste for dogs. Ernie loves the taste of unrefined coconut oil and will gobble it up straight from the spoon, which is fantastic for keeping his teeth and gums healthy; it also eliminates bad doggie breath, which means no more stinky kisses!
Start by adding 1/4 teaspoon of oil per 5kg body weight to your dog’s meal and gradually increase to 1 teaspoon per day. Coconut oil can have a detoxing effect on the body, so if you’re noticing any flu-like symptoms try decreasing the amount. Alternatively, check out Banaban Organic Doggie Crunch – a natural certified organic dog food, high in fibre, iron and trace minerals with all the added health and coat benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil.
To purchase your Banaban Extra Virgin Coconut Oil and Banaban Organic Doggie Crunch, head to www.naturepacific.com.
There’s nothing worse as a pet owner knowing your beloved animal is in pain. Arthritis is a painful condition that affects around one in five Australian dogs. It is most common in older dogs of medium or large breeds, but can affect dogs of any age, size and breed. People are often unaware of the signs of joint pain and think their pet is just getting old.
Veterinarian Dr Katrina Warren discusses the common symptoms and the simple things we can do to make our canine companions feel more comfortable.
Five signs of joint pain
1. Difficulty moving – hesitant to jump, run or climb stairs
2. Stiffness or discomfort when getting up from lying down
3. Limping or lagging behind on walks
4. Experiencing pain when being touched in certain areas
5. Licking or chewing at the joints
How to help alleviate joint pain in dogs
1. Moderate your pet’s exercise
Regular exercise is still important for muscle tone and joint flexibility. Offer daily, low impact exercise like gentle walks and swimming.
2. Weight loss
Being overweight can exacerbate arthritis by putting extra pressure on the joints. Talk to your veterinarian about a weight loss plan for your dog.
3. Pamper them
Dogs with joint pain may benefit from regular massages and acupuncture.
4. Home improvements
Provide an elevated bed away from drafts and add extra blankets in winter.
5. Discuss treatment options with your veterinarian
Create a program of treatments to minimise your dog’s pain and help slow its progression. Natural supplements such as Rose-Hip Vital® Canine may help improve joint health and the general wellbeing of active and ageing dogs. It’s made from 100% pure and natural rosehip fruit, which is a rich source of natural vitamin C and powerful antioxidant.