The many benefits of pet ownership

We know that pets take a lot of work, expense and care.  We also know that there are some really important questions everyone should ask before getting a pet.  But did you know that there are many important health, psychological and emotional benefits to owning a pet?

Health benefits of owning a pet

Pet owners have also been found to be healthier with;

  • lower risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • they get more exercise that non pet owners
  • lower heart rates (as the receive love from their pet lessens stress levels)
  • fewer headaches, cold and hay fever and;
  • lower risk of allergies and allergies.

Emotional and psychological benefits of owning a pet

Are you shy?  Uncomfortable around other people?   Do you wish you were more comfortable when out in public?  Take your dog for a walk.  Not only does it provide for great exercise, but it also provides an opportunity for social interaction as someone may ask you about your breed of dog or comment on how adorable your pets (and their tricks) are.

For the elderly research shows that caring for pets not only provides them with exercise but also companionship.  Walking the dog or just spending time caring for and loving their pet provided those with an unexpected emotional benefit as well as social interaction.  It has also been found that outburst by Alzheimer’s patients are greatly reduced when they have a pet to interact with.

Children are more self-confident and responsible, as well as less aggressive after having a pet to care for in the household.

Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress as they experience the unconditional love as well as the exercise, care and comfort, and even adorable tricks and escapades that their pet provides.

The proof is in the research:

  • Many people believe that owning a pet leads to health complications like allergies and asthma.  However, one recent study conducted by James E. Gern, MD, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology along with many other studies suggests “that kids growing up in a home with “furred animals” — whether it’s a pet cat or dog, or on a farm and exposed to large animals — will have less risk of allergies and asthma,” he shares in an interview with WebMD.

In this study which analyzed the blood of babies from birth to one year it was found that;

“If a dog lived in the home, infants were less likely to show evidence of pet allergies — 19% vs. 33%. They also were less likely to have eczema, a common allergy skin condition that causes red patches and itching. In addition, they had higher levels of some immune system chemicals — a sign of stronger immune system activation.  “Dogs are dirty animals, and this suggests that babies who have greater exposure to dirt and allergens have a stronger immune system,” Gern says.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “If you have a dog around, your blood pressure is lower,” says Marty Becker, DVM, veterinary consultant for Good Morning America and author of the upcoming book Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual. “A lot of it goes back to reducing stress: You might lose your job, your house, your 401(k)—but you’ll never lose the unconditional love of your pet.”
  • The online and social media editor at PetConnection.com Christie Keith, reports. “A 1999 Canadian study found that pet owners were more ‘socially engaged’ than non–pet owners.” An Austrian study “found that pet ownership led to an increase in social contact, more socialization within neighborhoods [such as neighbors chatting as they walk their dogs], and even a greater perception to observers that the neighborhood seems ‘friendly.’”
  • Blair Justice, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health and author of Who Gets Sick: How Beliefs, Moods, and Thoughts Affect Your Health shares that those with high stress are more likely to experience a number of health dangers.  Petting and caring for your pet produces elevated levels of serotonin and dopamine — nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.”  Sure you can take drugs to elevate those levels, but petting your dog is definitely a healthier and cheaper way of doing so.

These benefits are limited to dogs, but cats, birds, even fish and many other common pets can provide these benefits.  But for me, there is nothing more comforting than hugging my kids and petting my dog after a bad day.

Sources

CDC

Woman’s Day

WebMD

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