Pets and Living With them
ANIMALS PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN MANY PEOPLE’S LIVES.
In dogs that can be trained to detect danger it can also be used in occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical rehabilitation to help patients recover.Aside from these designated therapeutic roles, animals are also valued as companions, which can certainly affect the quality of our lives.
With almost no effort at all, pets manage to bring so much joy into our lives. They make us laugh, comfort us when we’re sick or upset, and are always there for us no matter what.
Not everyone understands the bond between human and beast, though, or even realizes how much pets do for their owners. We take a look at ten of the benefits of having pet .
Some of the benefits in having pets are :
THEY KEEP YOU FIT
All breeds of dog need regular, daily walks in order to stay happy and healthy, and so do we! However, we sometimes have the tendency to get a bit lazy – if that sounds like you, a dog is the perfect cure! They’ll be dragging you out the front door and making you run around the park each and every day. Yes, a dog is possibly the best personal trainer you could ask for.
THEY MAKE SURE YOU’RE NEVER LONELY
If you live by yourself, or your partner works different shift patterns to you, it can get awfully lonely at home – unless you have a pet, of course! Cats and dogs make great companions – they’ll always be waiting for you to come home and they’ll be happy to lend an ear should you want to moan about the awful day you’ve had. Plus, most of the time, they’re up for a snuggle .
THEY LOWER YOUR STRESS LEVELS
Modern life is stressful and high levels of anxiety can lead to numerous health problems. Luckily, pets can really help us relax – stroking your cat or simply watching fish swim around in a tank can make your worries melt away. Previous studies have proven that pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels than people who don’t own a pet.
IMPACT ON PHYSICAL HEALTH
Companion animals may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and regulating the heart rate during stressful situations. In a 2002 study, researchers measured changes in heart rate and blood pressure among people who had a dog or cat, compared to those who did not, when participants were under stress (performing a timed math task). People with a dog or cat had lower resting heart rates and blood pressure measures at the beginning of the experiment than non-pet owners. People with a dog or cat were also less likely to have spikes in heart rates and blood pressure while performing the math task, and their heart rates and blood pressure returned to normal more quickly.They also made fewer errors in their math when their pet was present in the room. All these findings indicated that having a dog or cat lowered the risk of heart disease, as well as lowering stress so that performance improved.
A similar study found that having your dog in the room lowered blood pressure better than taking a popular type of blood pressure medication (ACE inhibitor) when you are under stress. Other research has indicated that the simple act of stroking a pet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Children’s exposure to companion animals may also ease anxiety. For example, one study measured blood pressure, heart rate, and behavioral distress in healthy children aged 3 to 6 at two different doctor visits for routine physicals. At one visit, a dog (unrelated to the child) was present in the room and at the other visit the dog was absent. When the dog was present, children had lower blood pressure measures, lower heart rates, and less behavioral distress. However, research on the health benefits of child and animal interaction is still limited. Further research is needed on how pets influence child development and specific health outcomes.
Findings suggest that the social support a pet provides can make a person feel more relaxed and decrease stress. Social support from friends and family can have similar benefits, but interpersonal relationships often cause stress as well, whereas pets may be less likely to cause stress. The social support provided by a pet might also encourage more social interactions with people, reducing feelings of isolation or loneliness. For example, walking with a dog has been found to increase social interaction, especially with strangers, compared to walking without a dog.
Among elderly people, pet ownership might also be an important source of social support that enhances well-being. In one study, elderly individuals that had a dog or cat were better able to perform certain physical activities deemed “activities of daily living,” such as the ability to climb stairs; bend, kneel, or stoop; take medication; prepare meals; and bathe and dress oneself. There were not significant differences between dog and cat owners in their abilities to perform these activities. Neither the length of time of having a dog or cat nor the level of attachment to the animal influenced performance abilities. Companion animals did not seem to have an impact on psychological health but researchers suggested that a care-taking role may give older individuals a sense of responsibility and purpose that contributes to their overall well-being.
A large German study collected pet information (dog, cat, horse, fish, bird or other pet ownership) from over 9,000 people at two different times (1996 and 2001). The survey included a number of health, economic, and labor issues, so that respondents would not realize the researchers’ interest in a link between pets and health. Researchers found that people who said they had a pet in both 1996 and 2001 had the fewest doctor visits, followed by people who had acquired a pet by 2001; the group of people who did not have a pet at either time had the highest number of doctor visits.Similarly, a study of women in China found that those who were dog owners had fewer doctor visits, took fewer days off sick from work, and exercised more often than non-dog owners
Research on allergies and asthma is mixed. Some studies show that having a cat might increase allergen sensitivity, while others show it might protect against cat allergies. Having a dog might not influence or might protect against specific dog allergies. A 2013 study found that mice were protected against allergies when they were exposed to dust that came from homes with dogs. The researchers discovered that the protective effect was due to a certain type of gut bacteria that is often present in people with dogs. More research is needed on the connection between allergies, asthma, and pets, but it is possible that the impact of having pets on allergies may depend on the age of the person at the time they are exposed to an animal as well as the type of pet. For example, 6 and 7 year old children who lived with a bird during their first year of life were more likely to have respiratory symptoms like wheezing compared to children who did not have a bird in the home as an infant.
Likewise, researchers say that the timing of when a pet is in the family is also important. Children with dogs or cats in their home during the first year of life are less likely to develop allergies in childhood.
As is true with any relationship, some human-pet relationships are likely to be more rewarding than others. Some people are more attached to their pets than others and those feelings could influence the impact of the pet on the person’s health. Other factors such as gender and marital status may play a role. For example, one study found that dog ownership was associated with lower rates of depression among women, but not men, and among single individuals but not married people. So, while pet ownership might have a positive impact on well-being for some people, it doesn’t affect everyone the same way.