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Pets

How Your Pet Benefits You

After a tough day at work, nothing feels better than coming home to your pet. With a

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wagging tail or a purr, pets bring so many benefits to a person’s life. "Pets often provide unconditional acceptance and love and they're always there for you," says Gary A. Christenson, MD, chief medical officer at Boynton Health Service.

From lowering cholesterol and stress levels to helping children with autism, read on to see how owning a pet can make you and your family healthier.

 

Pets Can:

Benefits of Pets, Bloomwell- Wills, Trusts, Consent Forms

Improve your mood

This probably won’t come as a surprise to pet owners but spending time with pets is a great way to improve your mood and lower stress levels. Whether your pet is a dog, a cat, a fish or a horse; within a few minutes you will be 

 

feeling better.

During this time your body goes through two big physical changes; your cortisol levels are lowered, which is a hormone associated with stress, and your body starts to produce more serotonin, which improves your mood. .

Pet owners are also generally more trusting and less lonely than people without pets, and they are also less likely to visit the doctor over a minor problem. It is likely that this is because owning a pet gives owners a purpose in life so pet owners feel productive and fulfilled.

"We found that pet owners, on average, were better off than non-owners, especially when they have a higher-quality relationship with their pets," says pet researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD.

Lower your blood pressure

Having a pet can help to manage your blood pressure; a recent study of 240 married couples found that pet owners had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates than people who didn’t have pets.

Even when the couples took stress test, they found that they had lower levels of stress. This means that the effects of owning a pet can help with the ability to handle stress as well.

Help children with ADHD 

If you have a child with ADHD it can be beneficial to get a pet. Having a pet can help children with ADHD learn to plan ahead and be responsible, as pets need feeding, letting out, walking and play time. Your child can set these routines and make sure that they are followed.

Playing with a pet is also a great way to burn up energy, and the unconditional love offered by a pet can help a child with ADHD to build up their self-esteem.

Help with depression

Therapists often prescribe a pet, or time with an animal as a way to help with depression. Spending time with an animal will help to ease loneliness, and a pet loves you unconditionally, so owners don’t have to worry about their pet leaving them.

Pets also have calming effects on humans, and they make great listeners; owners can discuss their feelings freely and openly without worrying about being judged. A pet is also a responsibility, which gives owners a purpose and a self-esteem boost.

Help to keep your mind active

As we get older, our minds start to slow down and we don’t get the opportunity to learn as often as we did when we were younger. Older people can keep their mind sharp by teaching their pet new tricks and skills. This exercises the brain and helps to maintain a healthy, cognitive mind.

Lower risk of allergies in children

Many studies have found that children who grow up with a cat or dog are less likely to have allergies, but this also extends to horses and farm animals. Children who grow up around animals are also more likely to have a stronger immune system, as they have higher levels of certain chemicals that live in the immune system. This will benefit them both as a child and as they grow older.

Why Dogs And Cats are Amazing for Your Home:

Benefits of Pets, Bloomwell- Wills, Trusts, Consent Forms

Babies are healthier

Research from the journal Pediatrics found that babies who grow up with a dog or a cat are less likely to get sick that babies who live in a pet-free home.  Another study found that household dust from a home with a dog helps to prevent babies from contracting a common respiratory virus.

Lowers cholesterol and risk of heart attack

Doctors recommend that people with high cholesterol follow the standard guidelines regarding exercise, diet and medication, but owning a pet can help you to avoid high cholesterol as well. 

Research found that people who own cats and dogs have lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than people who don’t. This may be because of the lifestyle of pet owners, as they are more likely to exercise regularly. Another study found that dog owners had significantly better survival rates one year after a heart attack.

Interestingly, cat owners experience the most benefits; according to a Canadian study from 2006, cats are more effective at preventing heart disease than medication. Out of the 4,435 participants in the study, those without a cat had a 40% higher risk of having a heart attack.


Cat owners are less likely to have strokes than people who don’t own cats

Researchers aren’t sure why, but it appears that cat owners have fewer strokes that people without cats. There are many theories that explain this; owning a pet can improve your circulation, or cats could have a more calming effect on humans than other animals. It could even be related to the personality of cat owners!

Dog owners are more likely to socialize than people without a dog

Dog owners are generally less likely to be lonely that people without dogs, as they regularly talk to other dog owners when they see that they also have a dog, and these regular conversations can help to ease loneliness.

A dog will lower stress in children

A recent study looked at the effects of having pets around children, and it found that having a dog can lower stress levels in children. 21% of the children without dogs tested positive for anxiety, whereas only 12% of the children who lived with dogs tested positive.

Encourages exercise

People who own dogs are more likely to exercise than those who don’t. They are also more likely to be less obese than people without a dog.

It is likely that this is because dog owners tend to walk their dogs every day; a recent study found that around 50% of dog owners exercise with their dog for 30 minutes at least five times a week. This frequent exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight and heart.

Another study even found that elderly people are more likely to go on regular walks with a dog, rather than a human.

Walking a dog can benefit your bones

Walking your dog repeatedly can help to strengthen your bones and the muscles around them, as it is a weight-bearing exercise. This helps to lower the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

However, if you already suffer from osteoporosis, it is important to make sure you stay safe while walking your dog. Use a short lead to lower the chance of getting tangled in the lead and falling over. It is also important to make sure your dog is well-trained, so that they don’t get excited and run off while you are still holding the lead.

Walking a dog can provide relief from rheumatoid arthritis

People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis benefit from a non-strenuous walk with their dog. This is because movements like walking and throwing sticks can help to ease pain, but it is very important to not exert yourself, as this can cause further pain.

Dogs also offer a distraction for people who have painful conditions, which helps them to feel positive and optimistic.

Research has found that having a pet can improve your mental and physical health – and it isn’t just cats and dogs. Fish, birds and horses can all benefit their owners in different ways.

Horses

Benefits of Pets, Bloomwell- Wills, Trusts, Consent Forms

Horses can benefit autistic children

Autistic children often benefit from equine therapy for lots of different reasons. The children normally find it very calming to spend time with animals, and it offers a chance to bond emotionally with another being. Instead of using verbal communication, the children often physically communicate with the horse by brushing them and patting them.

Equine therapy also helps autistic children to understand directions, as they follow the directions during the horse riding lesson. This is a fun way to learn about directions, so it is easier to understand and remember.

Horses can help with stroke recovery

Horses offer a surprising solution to people who are recovering from a stroke. Some rehab programs help patients with horse riding, as it offers stretching exercises that help to strengthen up the side of the body that is weaker. It also helps the person to build core strength, helping them to regain balance.

Birds

Benefits of Pets, Bloomwell- Wills, Trusts, Consent Forms

Birds have calming effects

Listening to a birdsong isn’t just beautiful – it also benefits your state of mind and mental well-being. Birds offer us a chance to bring nature inside, helping to lower stress levels. This calming effect isn’t the only benefit to birdsong; audio experts also believe that birdsong helps us to focus, so having a bird can help you to be more productive.

According to Julian Treasure, author of Sound Business, listening to birdsong results in a state he calls "body relaxed, mind alert."

Owning a bird encourages social interaction

Another benefit to having a pet bird is the social interaction, which is great for your mental health. Parrot owners have a bird that can greet them as they walk into the room, which improves mood and often encourages the owner to chat back about their day.

It also offers owners the chance to talk to other bird owners, from members on online bird forums to other people who live in your area and own birds.

Fish

Benefits of Pets, Bloomwell- Wills, Trusts, Consent Forms

Owning fish lowers stress levels

If you want to create a calm environment at home, you may want to consider buying some fish. Multiple studies have found that spending time around nature helps to improve mood and overall well-being, and getting an aquarium means you can experience nature in your own home.

One study found that gazing at a fish task for 20 minutes was just as effective at lowering stress levels as being hypnotised. This explains why there is always an aquarium at the dentist!

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References

Amy Flowers. “27 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health” October 21, 2014. Web MD. <http://pets.webmd.com/ss/slideshow-pets-improve-your-health>

Susannah Felts. “The Best Pets For Your Health” July 2, 2015. Health Magazine. http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20935130,00.html

Tara Parker-Pope. “Forget the treadmill. Get a dog” March 14, 2011, The New York Times.  <http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/forget-the-treadmill-get-a-dog/?_r=0>

Jacob Teitelbaum. “Cats Better Than Cholesterol Meds in Preventing Heart Disease” August 6, 2008, Psychology Today. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/complementary-medicine/200808/cats-better-cholesterol-meds-in-preventing-heart-disease>

Alice Park. “Study: Why Dogs And Cats Make Babies Healthier” July 9, 2012. Time Magazine < http://healthland.time.com/2012/07/09/study-why-dogs-and-cats-make-babies-healthier/>

PetEducation.com: "Assistance and Service Dogs," "Physical and Medical Health Benefits of Pets."

American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Forecast: "Could a Dog Save Your Life?"

Celia Shatzman. “12 Ways Pets Improve Your Health” Health Magazine. <http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20810305,00.html>

Yvette Brazier. “Children with pets have less stress” November 29, 2015. Medical News Today. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303276.php>

 

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