Can a Pet Improve Your Health?

Home & Family,Pets
December 2, 2011

Owning a pet may have physical, mental and emotional benefits

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Pets can be loyal companions and offer unconditional love, but can a pet improve your health? Research has begun to show that pet ownership may have physical, mental and emotional benefits for humans.

Heart healthy. Walking, playing and general romping with a pet increases your daily activity level, which can help in maintaining a healthier weight and may even help lower cholesterol levels. Active pets plus active humans equals healthier weight levels in both. In a 2003 study conducted by Dr. Erika Friedmann, of Brooklyn College, it was found that pet owners boast healthier hearts and that dog owners are eight times more likely to survive the first year after a heart attack than patients living without a canine companion.

Allergy reducing. Dr. Ganesa Wegienka, in a study published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy, determined that males whose family owned a dog during their first year of life were about 50 percent less likely to suffer from allergy sensitivities than males in homes without dogs. In addition, both sexes were about 50 percent less likely to have allergy sensitivity to cats if they shared a home during wit a cat in their first year of life.

Physical and emotional assistance for better living. Organizations like Delta Society are dedicated to helping improve the health and quality of living for humans using therapy and assistance animals. The trained pets provide assistance to hospitals, nursing homes and individuals. Dogs 4 Diabetics offers specifically trained assistance dogs to be alert for and react to human scent changes that low blood glucose presents in diabetics. Paws For Comfort trains and places Xolos, also known as the Mexican Hairless, with people suffering from fibromyalgia. The dog’s ability to quickly bond with their human and their naturally hot body temperature help patients with chronic pain receive relief. Seizure assist dogs are trained to stay close to their human when a seizure occurs. They also can be trained to fetch medications or even a phone.

General fitness. Pet owners can increase their general fitness by simply walking and playing with their pets. Walking has multiple benefits. As a weight-bearing exercise, it may help in the fight against osteoporosis. Daily walks with your dog also can be an excellent opportunity to improve physical, mental and emotional health. It incorporates exercise plus the chance for socialization with other pet owners. As we age, socialization and keeping our minds and bodies active are keys for reducing the risk of several issues including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers. Love yoga? Try Doga with your dog, a partner yoga class for owners and their dogs.

Warm fuzzies. Owning and taking care of a pet can simply bring about the “warm fuzzies.” Feelings of love and companionship are offered freely by pets. Animal companions can reduce loneliness, helping to improve mental and emotional health.

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