Love. Companionship. Protection. Work. These are just some of the most obvious reasons that keeping pets is beneficial to humanity, however a growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates that pet ownership is particularly advantageous to our health in additional ways that include improved heart health, alleviation of depression and anxiety, and increased well-being.
According to this study from Harvard Health Publishing, dog ownership can:
- Prompt owners to be more physically active
- Support child health and development by making kids more active, secure, and responsible
- Improve the lives of elderly persons
- Increase sociability while simultaneously decreasing isolation
Furthermore, it has been shown that the act of merely petting a dog can reduce the blood pressure and heart rates of both the petter and the pup. That seems about right, especially since dogs are the preferred pet in most households, however some of you may be wondering about the original internet royalty, the cats. How effectively do felines impact health outcomes for their human counterparts?
Not surprisingly, studies have shown that cat ownership lowers stress levels and ultimately the risk of heart disease and stroke. While cat purring is also associated with stress reduction, it is additionally credited with healing and strengthening bones and muscles.
Mayo Sleep Clinic researchers contend that cat owners who sleep with their feline friends beside them report sleeping better. On the canine experience, people who sleep with one dog in the same room claim to slumber peacefully, however that outcome changes when the dog gets into the bed. In that event, sleep is more likely to be disturbed.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) found that children raised in a household with multiple pets during their first year of life may be less likely to develop allergic diseases when compared to children raised without pets.
In recent years, there has been increased education and awareness regarding emotional and psychological benefits of the human-animal bond resulting in an ever-expanding acceptance of support pets for people suffering from a range of conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Whatever your creature of choice – whether you are partial to cats, dogs, horses, birds, fish or ferrets, all evidence suggests that in addition to the aforementioned health benefits, pet ownership fulfills our basic human desire for companionship while further providing social and emotional support, increased opportunities for exercise, socialization and outdoor activities, and decreased feelings of loneliness and anxiety. If you don’t own a pet, you might borrow one from a friend or visit the local animal shelter for a low-commitment snuggle session.
Although World Cat Day just passed on August 8, there is no need to despair if you missed this annual opportunity to celebrate all things feline because August 17 is Black Cat Appreciation Day, followed on August 22 with Take Your Cat to the Vet Day, and then the arrrr-liest of all furball festivities arrives on September 19 when America celebrates National Meow Like a Pirate Day. August 30 marks National Holistic Pet Day and you can commemorate National Dog Day on August 26 by doing something pawsome with your furry friend.