Research undertaken over the course of the past 25 years has revealed that there exist a variety of important health benefits associated with owning a pet, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Indeed, in some instances and for some individuals, the health benefits associated with a pet, or companion animal, ownership is significant. These include seven particular health benefits experienced by pet owners.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Research has been conducted regarding pet ownership and heart disease. This research has provided some interesting results. First, individuals who have suffered heart attacks and own a pet have longer life expectancies than those who have had this health issue but are not pet owners.
Other research studies have revealed that pet ownership can be particularly helpful in assisting men in lowering their risk of heart disease. Pet ownership among men appears to reduce their overall risk of heart disease. This occurs because pet ownership has been connected with lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels in men.
Lower Incidence of Depression and Anxiety
Pet ownership is demonstrably effective at lowering the incidence of depression. For example, loneliness and depression go hand-in-hand in many cases. Pet ownership truly lessens the prospect of a person experiencing loneliness. Thus, the possibility of a loneliness-related depression can be reduced or eliminated altogether.
A notable number of people suffer from different types of anxiety issues. These can include everything from social anxiety to PTSD. A considerable amount of research has been undertaken on the connection between pet ownership and anxiety conditions. These studies have been uniform in reporting that pet ownership is very helpful in reducing anxiety issues. Indeed, specially trained dogs are engaged to assist patients with PTSD.
Reduction in Allergies
Time and again, people make mention of being allergic to pets. Certainly, some people do suffer from allergies associated with certain types of pets.
With that noted, recent research has demonstrated that a pet in a household reduces the prospect for allergies in some cases. Furred pets can assist a person in developing a stronger immune system, which in turn reduces the likelihood of suffering from certain types of allergies. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports that a pet in the household reduces a child’s chance of suffering allergies by 33 percent.
Managing Age-Related Issues
Pets are also helpful in reducing the symptoms of different types of age-related issues, illnesses, and conditions. For example, studies demonstrate that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious situations when there is a pet of some sort in the residence. Oftentimes, the better choice of pet for an elderly individual is a cat. This is because a cat requires less care.
Other age-related issues that pets are helpful in addressing include loneliness and associated depression. The reality is that a pet in an elderly person’s home truly provides welcome and loving companionship.
Reduction in High Blood Pressure
A discussion was had a moment ago of ways in which pets can assist in staving off, or reducing the risk, of heart disease. One major medical condition in which pets are proving helpful involves high blood pressure.
A considerable segment of the U.S. population is afflicted with high blood pressure. Indeed, high blood pressure is an issue internationally. A considerable amount of research has been undertaken on the connection between reduced blood pressure and the presence of pets in a person’s life. Time and again, those individuals who own pets (particularly cats and dogs) have consistently lower blood pressures that people who are not pet owners.
Although dogs and cats have been common types of pets owned by people in these studies, other types of pets have contributed to lower blood pressure in many people as well. This includes fish, being very soothing to watch.
Improved Overall Fitness
Depending on the pet, a companion animal can also be helpful in improving a person’s overall fitness. For example, walking is considered a key way of maintaining better health. Having a dog to walk enhances the chances that a person will walk with regularity.
Specially Trained Pets
Finally, there are therapeutic pets that receive especially training to assist people with particular medical issues or conditions. Of course, the so-called “seeing eye dog” has provided assistance to sight-impaired individuals for years.
More recently, pets (primarily dogs) have been trained to assist with other types of health-related issues. These include dogs that have been trained to aid individuals diagnosed with certain types of seizure conditions as well as people with diabetes. These types of therapeutically trained pets enhance the safety of day-to-day living for individuals afflicted with certain types of medical conditions.
Jessica Kane is a writer for Handicapped Pets, your most trusted source for dog wheelchairs and harnesses.