Apr 30 2014

Pet Appreciation Week in May – Health Benefits for Owners

Owning a pet has obvious benefits to our emotional well-being, but did you know that having a pet can actually help with your physical health?  Years of research have shown this to be true.

Heart Health

Recent studies have shown that having a pet is often associated with lower blood pressure, decreased stress, and increased physical activity.  In addition, cat owners are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack and 40 percent less likely to have a cardiovascular event such as a stroke.  Even if you have a heart attack, you are much more likely to be alive a year later if you have a pet than if you don’t.

Healing, Easing Anxiety

Many hospitals will bring pets to visit sick patients as it has been scientifically proven to help decrease time required to heal from injury or disease in addition to decreasing stress.

Lowers Cholesterol

According to the Centers for Disease Control people who own pets–and men, in particular–have significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those who don’t have pets.  However it isn’t clear if having a pet is directly related to lower cholesterol or if pet owners are simply more active and thus have lower cholesterol.

Emotional and Mental Health of Children

Pets have been shown to help children with autism by providing comfort and soothing.  Kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often have something to focus on when they have a pet to take care of.

Allergies in Children

Many recent studies have suggested that children growing up with pets in the house or on a farm have less risk for allergy or asthma development.   Babies are less likely to show signs of pet allergies or eczema and are more likely to show signs of a stronger immune system if they live with a dog.

Mental and Social Health in Adults

Pets are a great icebreaker for conversation and meeting new people.  Alzheimer patients with pets are less likely to have emotional outbursts and pet owners with AIDS are much less likely to be depressed than AIDS patients without pets.

There are numerous other health benefits of pet ownership that you can find out about by just doing a simple internet search.  As a final disclaimer, one should NEVER adopt a pet just because it may benefit their personal health.  Instead, think about what the pet need physical and emotionally in addition to your own reasons.

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