57% of American households own at least 1 animal according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. And that is great news because people with pets get many health benefits.
Karen Allen, PhD, a researcher at the University of Buffalo conducted a study involving 48 stockbrokers who were all on medication for hypertension. 24 were given their choice of a dog or a cat to take home and care for. After caring for the pets for a while; blood pressure and heart rates were checked on all participants. Those with a pet had lower heart rates and had drops in their blood pressure versus the group without pets. Once those without pets learned the results many went out and got a pet.
Benefits of Pet Ownership:
- Reduce stress and blood pressure.
- Pets provide unconditional love. They are always happy to greet you when you arrive home.
- Criminals hate dogs. A dog is good personal security when you are out walking and good security for your home when you are not there.
- Walking a dog will help keep you fit and active.
- Pets are a responsibility that give a since of purpose, boosting your feelings of self worth. If you are feeling inadequate, unsure, or not useful; a pet (any kind, turtle, cat, horse) will boost your feelings of self worth because they are counting on you for their care.
- Need a date? Walking a dog breaks all kinds of social communication barriers. Neighbors or strangers are much more likely to approach you and strike up a conversation about your dog when they see you out walking or at the dog park. So if you need a date borrow a dog and get outside, there is no telling who you may meet, maybe your future spouse.
- Dogs can help clean your house. Drop a little popcorn on the floor, don’t worry about it, your dog will clean up the crumbs in no time. I think that is why dogs and little kids are so great together. One creates lots of crumbs and the other cleans them up.
- Studies have shown that heart attack patients who have pets survive longer than those without.
- An Australian and German study found that people who own pets have fewer doctor visits. (Aust Social Monitor 2002; 4: 93-99). Saving you money and keeping you healthier.
- Pets prevent you from being lonely. They are great to talk too even thou they don’t talk back. Giving you someone to confide in who you know won’t break a confidence.
- Pets can provide you with a new social network. You will meet people with similar interests at the dog park, dog shows, and other neighbors when you are out walking your dog.
- Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is a pet in the house.[pel_getmldata healthy=’yes’ numrec=3]
Dogs and cats are the most popular pets but that doesn’t have to be your choice. The studies indicate that the important thing is that it is a pet of your own, whether it is a horse, fish, rabbit, or iguana. Do not jump right out and get a pet before reading about the care required and making sure you have no allergy or asthma concerns.
Many communities have a program called “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” where you can go and walk a dog from a shelter. Giving you some exercise and providing a shelter dog some companionship and exercise. Check to see if this is available at your local shelter. You may get some of the health benefits of pet ownership while providing a community service.