One Health by Dr. Rozy Merali

“Preventative medicine isn’t just for people. Keeping animals healthy ultimately helps keep humans healthy.” ~Barbara Natterson-Horowitz

The relationship between human and animals dates back to ancient times where they were once revered as gods or enslaved as workers. In modern times, the human-animal connection has grown more deep and balanced.   Companion animals are our family and friends. They share our homes and a significant part of our lives. We live in one world with a common ancestry shared by all life on Earth. It is no wonder that we have genetic similarities and are so much alike.

One Health is a modern day movement to join forces between human and veterinary medicine by exploring this commonality between humans and animals. Scientists have turned to animals as models for studying human disease. Research has shown that companion animals can boost immunity, lower blood pressure and improve mental health but their role in health extends beyond being therapeutic. People and pets are bonded more deeply than many of us know.

Many pet owners are surprised to find that cats and dogs can develop the same diseases as people such as diabetes. Looking at health holistically to heal patients of all species, we learn that there are in fact many diseases shared by both humans and animals. Aside from communicable diseases that spread between us such as viruses, bacteria and parasites, there are many non-transferrable diseases that humans and animals share. Here is a list of some of the more common ones:

  1. Allergies
  2. Anxiety e.g. separation anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder
  3. Cardiovascular disease
  4. Cancer e.g. breast cancer, leukemia
  5. Diabetes
  6. Epilepsy
  7. Glaucoma
  8. Inflammatory bowel disease
  9. Obesity
  10. Osteoarthritis

Pets are good for our health; taking care of them means taking care of ourselves. They give us joy and encourage positive behaviours like touch, conversation, exercise and often laughter. In return for being our beloved companions, we have an obligation to provide for their care and well-being. Understanding the similarities between humans and animals is the first step to exercising good healthcare for our pets. Schedule your pet’s preventative health exam annually to help detect and manage these diseases.