It’s easy for me to believe in the health benefits of pets. Working full time, while managing a family and part time business is very stressful, but coming home to our happy pets gives me instant peace of mind. Daily walks are great for my heart (and my hips) and petting a dog or cat is the best therapy after a long day. Mel shares more about the health benefits of pets for Keep the Tail Wagging…
It’s easy to see how a pet can be good for your health if you’re referring to a seeing-eye dog. But pets have a therapeutic effect in more ways than one. A woman afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease could not recognize her husband but she could recognize their pet dog. Patients in nursing homes who have refused to speak will talk to dogs. Other patients who refuse to move will try to pet a dog. This human-animal bonding extends to other pets as well, such as cats, rabbits or even goldfish.
Studies about the therapeutic effect of pets are still in the pipeline. However, some findings already show that compared with non-pet owners…
- People with pets are less susceptible to depression;
- In a stressful situation, pet owners have lower blood pressure;
- Levels of serotonin and dopamine, which have a calming effect, become elevated when playing with a pet;
- Triglyceride and cholesterol levels of pet owners are lower;
- Pet owners who have a heart attack survive longer;
- People over 65 years old who have pets need to see a doctor less frequently;
- A simple activity like watching pet fish can reduce tension and the pulse rate.
Pets have this effect on people because they satisfy the basic human needs for company and appreciation. Touching, cuddling or s-stroking a pet is reciprocated with gratitude and affection, making a pet owner feel wanted. In a stressful situation, this can have a very soothing and calming effect. Those who are alone can find comfort for their loneliness in the presence of a pet.
Taking care of a pet can result in lifestyle changes which, in turn, make a person healthier. It can improve a person’s physical, mental and social life in many ways. Pet care involves physical exercise like taking a dog for a walk, grooming and playing with a cat or cleaning an aquarium. Pet owners form clubs, talk to each other whenever they meet and have a relaxed time socializing with
each other. Pets work wonders for a person’s attitudes and mental well-being. They reduce anxiety and help ease depression, stress and bi-polar disorder.
Pets are especially useful in helping senior citizens age gracefully. The loneliness that accompanies retirement and aging, or the desolation at the loss of a spouse can be assuaged by a pet. Pets help you keep physically active. They love to romp and play, encourage you to move about, laugh and stay in good spirits. The School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of California at Davis reports that people with Alzheimer’s Disease have fewer outbursts when there is a pet around. Cats, birds or fish even help reduce the stress of caregivers.
The beneficial effects of pets on the physical and mental health of children is well-documented. Children growing up with pets are less prone to allergies or asthma. They also acquire a sense of responsibility and kindness. Children with learning difficulties often learn to interact with other people by first learning to connect with a pet through their mutual non-verbal form of communication.
Whether you’re young, old or in between, the therapeutic effect of pets can make your life a happier and healthier one.
About the author:
Mel is an animal lover and travel writer. For him the ideal way to work and travel whilst having the company of animals is by house sitting in different parts of the country for people who have pets. His favorite house sitting site is http://mindahome.com