The Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

February 5, 2016

Dog_21A new pet can be a fantastic addition to the home. Pets can teach children extremely valuable lessons about caring, loving and responsibility. A recent study of school children showed that pet owners were more popular and seemed more sympathetic to the needs of their classmates.

In these days of PlayStations and iPads, having a pet can help to encourage children (and adults) to get up from the sofa and get some fresh air and exercise. Dogs especially help us get out and enjoy the great outdoors while getting some regular exercise. They are great motivators and personal trainers, never wanting to miss a training session no matter the weather.

Spending time with your pet has been shown to release oxytocin hormone into your bloodstream which helps to combat stress and fatigue. Harmful hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine have been shown to decrease when stroking a pet. Children or adolescents who have pets have been shown to have higher self-esteem. Teenagers who own pets have a more positive outlook on life and report less loneliness, restlessness, despair and boredom.

It is a fact that pet-owners, on average, live longer than non-pet-owners. Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is a pet at home.

In one study, sufferers of high blood pressure were demonstrated to show a clinical improvement after adopting a pet.

Growing up with a dog (and other pets to a lesser extent) during infancy may help to strengthen the immune system and may reduce the risk of allergies.

A pet is however not a miracle cure for every ill. Owning a dog is beneficial and comforting only for those who love and appreciate domestic animals and have the time and money to keep a dog happy and healthy. If you’re simply not a “dog person,” dog ownership is not going to provide you with any health benefits or improve your life. For some people, owning a cat requires less time and attention, and can be just as rewarding.

Next week, I hope to cover some important considerations when selecting the pet that is most appropriate to your individual circumstances and needs.

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