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Health Benefits of Pet Ownership



Pets can help us to heal emotionally, physically, and mentally, but scientists are also discovering that cats and dogs can help fight disease and assist us in coping with chronic conditions. They can have a biochemical impact on their owners’ body chemistry. Numerous medical experts have provided the results of scientific studies that support this biological basis for what we’ve felt intuitively. Here are some of the ways in which pets can have a positive effect on our health.

1. Pets Lessen the Risk of Allergies & Asthma

Counterintuitive, at first, but it makes perfect sense. The old thinking was that if your family had a pet, the children were more likely to become allergic to the pet. And if you came from an allergy-prone family, pets should be avoided. But a number of new studies suggest that kids growing up in a home with “furred animals”–which can include cats and dogs, as well as farm animals–will have less risk of allergies and asthma.

2. Pets Reduce Stress

This one is kind of a no-brainer: a survey by Mindlab International found that 55 percent of people were more relaxed after spending time with their pets–44 percent were also less worried about specific problems such as job security and finance. Interacting with a dog is a profound and effective stress reducer. It increases feelings of contentment and relaxation.

One quarter of respondents described their dog as their best friend while one in six women said they confided their deepest thoughts only in their pets–and walking the dog was also found to be a more effective means of spending quality time with the family than even meal times or holidays.

4. Cats Lower Risk of  Fatal Heart Attack

Researchers looked at nearly 4,500 adults and found that cat ownership was related to a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack. The team speculated that having a cat may reduce stress and anxiety, and thus protect against cardiovascular disease.

3. Dogs Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

Dog owners tended to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Regular walks may partly explain the difference. Taking care of a dog can often lead to increases in physical activity and facilitates the development of social contacts, which may enhance both physiological and psychological human health. As well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol, dog-owners suffer fewer minor ailments and serious medical problems.

5. Pets Can Help People with Serious Illness

Some medical doctors  recommend “pet prescriptions” to their patients who are alone and need companionship. That’s because physicians have discovered that a family pet can actually motivate some patients to give their best effort when dealing with serious illness such as cancer. Having a pet to care for and feed can stimulate ailing individuals to take better care of themselves.